Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christmas with the Dymythologisers!

My colleague, Michael Lloyd, just emailed me this Bultmann poem penned by Eric Mascall OGS (1905 – 1993), sent out as his Christmas round robin in the 1950s. I thought my blog readers would appreciate this one!


Christmas with the Dymythologisers



Hark, the herald angels sing:

'Bultmann is the latest thing!'

(Or they would if he had not

Demythologized the lot.)

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Glad to existentialize!

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and Science reconciled.


Lo, the ancient myths disperse.

Hence, three-storied universe!

Let three-decker pulpits stay:

Bultmann has a lot to say,

Since Kerygma still survives

When the myths have lost their lives.

Hark, the herald angels sing:

'Bultmann shot us on the wing!'


Dr Farrer we detect

Somewhat lacking in respect,

Launching, with his puckish arts,

Tiny well-directed darts;

While Herr Luther's lumpish sons

Overload their massive guns,

Blowing, when the barrel splits,

Bultmann - and themselves - to bits.


Let us with a gladsome mind

Leave the ancient world behind.

Modern man, rejoice with us!

We have read Copernicus.

While the herald angels sing:

'Bultmann ist ein gutes Ding!'

We respond in simple trust:

'Demythologize or bust!'




(Air - Good King Wenceslas)

Dr. Bultmann ventured forth

Boldly from his study,

When the wind was in the north,

and the roads were muddy.

All his thoughts were in a maze;

This was not surprising.

He had spent some weary days



'Hither, pupil, strain thy sight

If thou canst, descrying

Yonder folk who shove and fight -

What can they be buying?'

'Sir, 'tis cards with scraps of verse,

Pictured with a fable:

Shepherds and astrologers

Kneeling in a stable.'


'Bring my writings, if you please,

in the last editions.

Du und ich we'll stifle these

Outworn superstitions.'

Sage and pupil forth they go,

Braving every stigma,

Shedding myths like billy-o,

Clinging to kerygma.


'Sir, my thoughts begin to stray

And my faith grows bleaker.

Since I threw my myths away

My kerygma's weaker.'

'Think on Heidegger, my lad,

That pellucid Teuton;

Then you won't feel half so bad

When they talk of Newton.'


Existentially he thought,

as his master hinted.

All the learned works he bought

Which the sage had printed.

Therefore, folk, when science sends

Doubts and fears depressing,

Demythologize your friends -

Then you'll win their blessing.


(Many ancient authorities read flakes of snow instead of billy-o.)


At 2/22/2012 12:52 PM, Blogger Terry Wright said...


At 2/22/2012 1:05 PM, Anonymous TM Law said...

so perfect!

At 2/22/2012 10:07 PM, Blogger Jonathan Robinson said...

might have to save that for my christmas album ;-)

At 2/25/2012 4:09 AM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

Hark the herald new born day,
Rise and cast sad thoughts away
Peace on earth and mercy mild
Don't get mad, get reconciled.

Joyful all ye people rise,
End all war and strife and lies.
All sides win when no one dies!
Let's make this world our paradise.

At 3/16/2012 10:55 PM, Anonymous AllanSmith said...

I think the Gospels are iconographic writing. It's most unlikely that Jesus actually sported a golden halo and had large, limpid eyes. In the same way, it's most unlikely that he actually walked on water.

Just as it would be silly to demythologize ancient icons to find out what Jesus actually looked like, it's silly to demythologize the Gospels to find out what he actually said and did. Factual details like these (which do little but satisfy our curiosity) are forever lost.

I think both the artistic and the literary icons are cleverly crafted media designed to carry the message across time, intellect and culture, and as always, only those who have ears will hear.


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