A modernist, a postmodernist, and a Lutheran walk into a bar. . .


We’re in Australia, where I’ve been doing quite a bit of speaking.  I just gave a public lecture at the Lutheran seminary in Adelaide entitled “The Modern, the Postmodern, and the Lutheran:  How Lutheran Christianity Can Address the 21st Century.”  (It draws on a book I’ve written with Trevor Sutton.  Much more on that when CPH releases it on October 31.)  Anyway, my wife said, “Your title sounds like a joke!  The Modern, the Postmodern, and the Lutheran went into a bar. . . ”

She’s right, as usual, as I told the crowd, saying that the rest of my presentation would be the punchline.  But I have taken up the challenge of turning the title into a joke:

A modernist, a postmodernist, and a Lutheran walk into a bar.

The bartender asks the modernist, “What’ll you have?”

The modernist says, “First prove to me with rational certainty and scientific evidence that you can make me a good drink.”  The bartender throws him out.

The bartender then asks the postmodernist, “What’ll you have?”

The postmodernist says, “You have no right to impose your personal tastes on me!  I’ll construct my own drink.”  The bartender throws him out.

The bartender asks the Lutheran, “What’ll you have?”

The Lutheran says, “Give me a beer.”

Get it?

The Australian version of that last line would be, “The Lutheran says, ‘Give me some Barossa Valley wine.'”  That’s an allusion and a tribute to the major Lutheran contribution to the Australian economy, the wine industry.  (That was started by German Lutherans fleeing the Prussian Union, others of whom came to the United States to found the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.)

But I will here use what in America is considered “the Lutheran beverage.”

It seems to me that Christianity entails, among many other things, an acceptance of ordinary reality that is missing from many worldviews today.  The modernist mindset tries to lord it over existence, subjecting everything to mental comprehension and technological manipulation.  Existentialists, who can be modernists or postmodernists, insist that the physical world, however orderly in blindly and mindlessly following mechanical laws, is absurd, tragic, and void of purpose or meaning.  Postmodernists respond to what they consider the unknowability and the meaningless of the external world by believing that they and/or the oppressive culture “construct” their own realities.

Christians, though, with their doctrines of Creation and Incarnation can embrace the physical realm, even while acknowledging that it does not constitute the whole story.  Lutherans can be particularly helpful in making Christians realize this, what with their insight that God works through and actually makes Himself present through the physical means of the sacraments.  And the Lutheran doctrines of the Two Kingdoms and of Vocation discloses God’s blessings, His workings, and His presence in the most ordinary-seeming, secular-seeming dimensions of ordinary life.  Such as drinking beer.  Or making and consuming Australian wine.

I invite your discussion of these points.  Also, to lighten up our mood–perhaps soured by the events and topics of the week–I invite improvements and variations on the joke I have just told.  I also invite other “. . .walked into a bar” jokes.  The only criterion is that they must be clean and appropriate for a family audience.

I’ll give you another one to get you started:

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walked into a bar.  The bartender said, “Hey, is this some kind of joke?”


Photo from Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons


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