“In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe and the Cross can all fit together.”
-G.K ChestertonYesterday, my good friend and I were joking lightheartedly about theology and beer, and it occured to me, in all this posting on theology and prayer, that it might do me and anyone else who even happens to read this blog a bit of good to post something lighter in nature. Hence, since I am a beer connossieur of sorts, I wish to offer my list of which theologians would be which beers and ales. Obviously, I mean no irreverence by it all. Here we go:
1. St. Thomas Aquinas
We must say without hesitation that St. Thomas Aquinas would be Guinness Stout. This is proved:
Firstly, we must say that, since Guinness is the greatest beer the world over and is unquestioned in its championship of flavorful orthodoxy, that it rightly stands as the representative of the Catholic Church's Doctor par excellence. It is the Doctor Angelicus of the beer world - like Aquinas himself, it is imposing and yet simple, complex and yet infinitely approachable. The taste of Guinness is perfectly balanced, reasonable, and delicious beyond reason, but the actual substance of the drink itself is also most nourishing for the health. And hence, we also see the same properties in Aquinas - the doctor of common sense who took truth where he found it, who built a cathedral of theological flavor that is still unmatched in its purity and reasonableness, and one urged to be studied and meditated upon by the Church herself.
Tertullian's biting invectives and savage polemics warrant him his own beer representative in the world to be the India Pale Ale, though this comes in many varieties. One cannot read a single word of Tertullian without almost feeling a slight bit of sympathy for those he minces in his tirades, and we find this too in the drinking world, wherein an unwary person imbibes an IPA and recoils from the sudden stab of its rapier flavor. The bitterness of the hops completely encapsulate the nasty rhetoric of Tertullian in every way. Hence, though Tertullian is worthy of study, and IPA's are preferred at times by many a beer drinker, they should both always be approached with caution.
3. Bl. John Duns Scotus
After several minutes of intense pondering, it has occurred to me that Duns Scotus would warrant the comparison to Smithwick's Irish Ale. With a goodly Smithwick's, one must often succumb to having only one with a dinner of some kind, as it is full-flavored and quite filling. Indeed, a single pint of Smithwick's is often enough to suffice one for some time. This is much like the reading of Scotus, whose ridiculously complex theological mazes are almost impossible to wade in for any length of time longer than an hour. Just so with Smithwick's - a good drink from time to time, but unwise to imbibe often.
4. St. Hildegard Von Bingen
It has come to my attention that St. Hildegard, a soon to be declared Doctor of the Church and medieval mystic, should be compared to Fraoch Heather Ale. Fraoch boasts an ancient flavor brought to one's palate by the addition of heather into the 4000 year-old brewing process, and I find the particularly subtle sweetness and complex flavorings to be found also in St. Hildegard's theology, as well as her botanical studies too. Each sip of St. Hildegard's theology and Fraoch Heather Ale resemble each other in their apocalyptic rolling thunderstorms of mystical flavor and depth.
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, an oft-maligned and yet supremely adept disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, would have to be said to be an Oatmeal Stout. A different take on the orthodoxy of Guinness, and yet retaining the orthodox foundation of the latter drink, oatmeal stouts are often harsher and more serious in taste, lacking the simplicity of Guinness in favor of a more complex bite. Still, they are good to drink, and much like Garrigou-Lagrange's theology, it stands against waves of imitators and impoverished theologians, though it can never reach the heights of flavorful orthodoxy found in St. Thomas.
6. Soren Kierkegaard
The great Christian existentialist and forever-tormented-in-angst Lutheran, Soren Kierkegaard, must be said to be compared to Faxe Royal Strong. A Danish beer (for a Danish man), this particular drink hits with unparalleled force, much like a Viking Berserker's axe smashing into the skull of a foe and leaving splinters behind. It is penetrating, powerful, and unforgettably pungent, and this all only serves to mirror the deeply-impacting lines scribbled out by this influential philosopher.
7. Karl Barth
Karl Barth, often cited as the greatest Christian theologian of the 20th century, hits with the same force as Tucher Pilsner. I had this particular drink whilst waltzing through Germany with my wife on our honeymoon in Europe, and its bitter punch we have never forgotten. Just like Barth's theology, servings of Tucher are in massive litre-size steins - to approach one of these is a most daunting task, and so it is also when approaching a work like Barth's 15-volume Church Dogmatics.