Monthly Archives: December 2013

Redeeming limericks

Thought experiment: if you’re familiar with the poetic form of limerick, you might also be aware that many, many examples of the genre are characterized by bawdy humor (the link is clean; just the top results from an Amazon search for limerick). Such off-color topics are obviously not essential to the form; there are numbers of very clever, entirely clean limericks. However, anyone who is familiar with the form would likely know about their most common use.

Might we suggest the need to redeem the limerick? It seems to me that if we took limericks and used them as a medium to present theological truth, we could demonstrate Christ’s Lordship over even this trivial poetic form. Why should the devil have all the best forms, after all?

You understand, I suspect, that I’m being facetious. But I want to make two quick points:

  • A limerick might be a suspect form for carrying biblical truth because of how it is commonly used. This is a weaker argument against theological limericks, but not entirely without weight.
  • A limerick is a suspect form for carrying biblical truth because the form itself inclines us to expect that the content is jovial and foolish. This may be conditioned (we’ve heard lots of limericks that are jokes) or something more basic (the meter and rhyme scheme combine, in some near magical way, to give a lightness of mood). I suspect it’s a combination of the two.

Thus, “redemption” of a limerick is a pointless category. Stop using bawdy limericks. Enjoy in a suitable manner a funny limerick. But, literally, for Christ’s sake, don’t write theological limericks.

[Anticipated objection: Rap is a more serious genre than a limerick. I completely agree. But what I’m suggesting is that, when we recognize that a limerick, as a genre, is capable of trivializing serious subjects, we have at least, in principle, opened the conversation as to whether other genres might also have problems carrying the gospel. This doesn’t prove anything about rap. But it does provide the categories that the conservatives are using to make their case.]


Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Conservatism, Music


A question for certain advocates of Reformed rap

I have largely stayed on the sidelines of the rap discussion, and intend to continue doing so. I’m facing a deadline for a large paper that needs to get finished, and that has occupied most of my time.

However, I saw a tweet this morning from someone whom (and whose work) I admire greatly that raised a question that I’d like to lay out in skeletal form. My terse style here should suggest nothing more than haste; I count the men to whom I address the question not only as brothers in Christ, but brothers who have made many of my road trips much more profitable. (Could we say that they have redeemed driving?)

I take the core of the tweet to be something like this: Christians, especially clergy, should refrain from presenting personal opinions on issues of adiaphora that strongly suggest that only one position is a validly biblical one. If I’m wrong in this summary, I suspect everything else that follows is moot.

I also want to throw in this disclaimer: the panel to which the tweet refers offers some positions and especially some accusations that are wholly unjustified. I am not, in this post, defending this particular panel.

So my question is this: if a panel like this is wrong to suggest that rap (which we’re assuming, only for the sake of argument, is adiaphora) is biblically problematic, why is it OK to post a podcast that essentially celebrates the same matter of adiaphora?

An analogy (in which you are certainly invited to poke holes): would it be acceptable for some in the Roman church to host a podcast called “The Stronger Brother,” in which they swap recipes for meat?

Does the public nature of a podcast discussion limit the kinds of things that ought to be celebrated? Especially since, as was noted above, several of the hosts are clergy? Why is one acceptable and the other not (again, in principle, not in terms of the specific things said in either discussion)?


Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Music