Friday, November 25, 2005

Confessional hell-fire


I've just been informed that one cannot be a Barthian and a Christian. (You can guess what "Christian" means in this view. Yes....that's right.) And the theme music playing from the choir loft: "...The logical position is...."

Barth is in hell, Josh. I expect a web site devoted to "Who is in hell" to appear soon as a favor to all of us who don't get a regular update.
Posted by Michael Spencer at 05:55 PM


I’m afraid that the tin-eared reaction of Spencer and his beer buddies is symptomatic of a common affliction suffered by those who lack a respectable degree in English lit.

When I insinuate that a Christian cannot be a Barthian, I’m only speaking in my “literary” voice. This is my “confessional” persona speaking,

I mean, good grief Mr. Spencer, where can we start?

Ever read Shakespeare's Sonnets? Do you think Shakespeare walked around talking to men and women like that? "You hair is wiry and your breath reeks. Have a nice day."

So what do we do today? We have whole industries debating whether Shakespeare is Shakespeare. Why? Because his literary voice- which is his life and the real world and absolutely true- is DIFFERENT (not FALSE) but different from his literary voice.

Again, if you attended a literature class somewhere along the way, you would know that C.S. Lewis and the narrator of The Great Divorce are the same man/life, but different voices. Arthur Miller is and isn't Willie Loman. Robert Frost came to the Road Less do we all.

I guess this is, as I said, a matter of literary appreciation. If the Truly Irreformable Tavernistas are too tone-deaf to distinguish my literary voice from my literal voice, then what can I do for them?

How to write and how to read. Writing is a world that overlaps with the real world. It is the same person, the same life, but it isn't the same experience. There are voices that express the human experience different. Some outline it. Some turn it into poems. Some write their journey honestly, and sound out the journey in others.

In my “literary voice,” Karl Barth is burning in hell. But that’s just my confessional persona doing the talking.


  1. Wow. That's good stuff. I alway knew you had the biggest brain in the blogosphere, but this is really exceptional.

  2. I don't know Steve-0. Possibly overkill?

    BTW, I'm absolutely on the side of those who protest that good Ol' Bill S. did NOT write those plays.

    Michael, get a grip here.

  3. Hey Steve, I've got a different question for you but don't know how to access you via e-mail. Will you send me something so I can e-mail you please? JB

  4. It's a spot-on parody of one of Mr. Spencer's comments over at Frank Turk's blog. Why do you think Spencer praised Hays' intelligence above? ;-)