Barth, theology

On The Role Of Theology In The University

… With all due respect to the classical tradition it [theology] makes a necessary protest against a general concept of science which is admittedly pagan. It cannot do any harm even to the most stalwart representatives of this concept, or indeed to the whole university, to be reminded by the presence of the theologian among them that the quasi-religious certainty of their interpretation of the term is not in fact undisputed, that the tradition which commences with the name of Aristotle is only one among others, and that the Christian Church does not number Aristotle among is ancestor.

I have always loved Barth’s insistence that theology as a discipline should be unapologetic among the younger, more virile children in the academy. Back in the day, here he is writing about how theology crafts space that limits and opposes any intellectual hegemony, whether that be the narrative of scientism or some other dominant school of thought at any given time. He speaks elsewhere of how the:

academic cosmos is an eddy of scattered leaves whirling over a bottomless pit. And a question mark is actually the ultimate fact of each of the sciences

Reading this section this morning I was struck by how recently radical politics have taken to theology and especially the Gospels as a source for new approaches. In a world utterly without any ideas to how it can respond to the tyranny of neo-liberalism, theological thought is a refuge for the most unlikely of people.

That socialists would find a friend in Barth would come as no surprise to Karl, the raging Leftie that he was. But it might come as a surprise to them.

In the same way, that the humanities might find solace in theology should come as no surprise to theologians, even if it astonishes the scholars from other disciplines.

Of course, in our house, Aristotle is numbered among the faithful for how can a man understand friendship so keenly and not in some way be touched by the ultimate friendship with God? We’re sentimental about that old Greek but we’re willing to fall back on Dante’s audacious claim that Aristotle, Plato and the rest of the Hellenistic Heroes live in a lovely castle, enjoying a measure of comfort and content, right on the edge of hell!

Your Correspondent, Can’t deny the existence of a good God when the OED states emphatically that the Beastie Boys coined the term “mullet”


Hermits Don’t Have Peer Pressure

I tried to give up blogging.

I used to blog every day. The goal was to learn how to write well. Or at least to write quickly. I mastered the typing really fast but it turns out that making the words appear is not actually the same thing as making them line up right. Over the course of seven years I became quite adept at marshalling little ideas and making them walk in a line clearly enough for someone of moderate intelligence with a fluency in English to follow them. You can see those efforts since the internet saved them for posterity, as a gift to me at

I thought I was finished with that.

It was time, I thought, to write theology. Or rather to write Theology.

The blog was a theology blog and after its fashion it was a success. I was famous among the dozens. I got to know some lovely people, which was a stunning surprise to a sceptic like myself. I always thought the idea that the internet brought people together was bollocks. After all, anything that delivers vast quantities of porn for free is unlikely to encourage anything except isolation.

But I am a credit-entry in the vast karmic books of the internet. The blog served me really well with regards to friendships. I stayed in touch with Dave Freeburn and his doodlings. I got to know and love Richie Cronin through his constant commenting. Declan Kelly is this stunningly brilliant theological mind building himself up like some superhero in the training montage at the beginning of the movie. I got to read things he was learning because we got talking on the blog. An old college friend, Geoff Lillis, who had failed to teach me how to punch someone before falling out of my life when we went on our graduated ways, popped back in with a bang which was a delight. It is outrageously joyous when you become even better friends than you were in an earlier chapter in life.

There were many other real life and real meaningful relationships that sprung up from the blog.

But on the negative side, there was the name of the blog. Zoomtard. A foolish decision at the age of 22, this easily misunderstood name was bound to follow me through my pastoral and academic career, mocking me by its apparent vulgarity. I promised to blog intermittently elsewhere but realised that would never happen. You can’t blog in general.

When my little brother Enda said I could have a slice of his domain all to myself I decided I’d return to the blogging sphere. It solved all the problems. I know the blogging isn’t the reason I am not writing capital T Theology. I am not writing capital T Theology because I am a second year undergraduate student. Time management skills will get me so far but I am not yet ready to debunk modern critiques of the Filioque clause. That can come later. And if that time comes, blogging here won’t get in the way.

In this new blog I also get something I really want- transparent responsibility to the words I publish. I can’t really hide when both “Hargaden” and “Kevin” are in the address of the blog. Anonymity is largely a bad thing in the act of theology. The only other Kevin Hargaden that I am aware of on planet Earth is a cousin of mine in Georgia who is a Catholic priest. Hopefully the world won’t confuse the ramblings of this blog for his fine words.

So here is my statement of intent: This will remain a theological sketchpad. I will write about faith and culture and church and theology in Ireland. I will review things I read and watch. I will comment more on Manchester City’s gloriousness. I will write everything quickly and publish it without revision.

But one thing that I felt the old blog lacked was mirth. And theology, regardless of your viewpoint on it, ought to be funny. If you harbour doubts about the validity of the whole theo-shindig you surely can find confident declaration to be amusing hubris. The prospect of a triune God seems inherently laughable from that perspective. If you suspect that God might not be a figment of our collective imagination, the triune God seems inherently funny as the source of endless surprising gift. So I will try to be less turgid and more funny. Well funny is not quite right. Mirth might mark it best.

Dangerous ambitious words, eh.

When I first began Zoomtard I sought to write 1000 word posts. That anyone read them at all was astounding. Then after a while I transitioned into writing daily posts and both of those movements bore fruit. In the first section, I learned how to construct paragraphs. In the second, I learned how to construct sentences. Now I am going to try and learn how to construct jokes. While still writing about theology.

I usually like it easier than that.

Your Correspondent, Offers immediate gratification both intellectual and hedonistic in nature