If theologians were beers

If theologians were beers

Lovers of theology and beer will approve of Jason L’s blog post relating famous theologians to famous beers and ales.

Guinness is an acquired taste which I haven’t acquired — but only, I’m sure, because I’ve never really tried. I’m much more familiar with Thomas Aquinas, and after reading this, I think I’ll reacquaint myself with the beer some time soon:

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.

High praise indeed!

I’m also familiar with India Pale Ale, which I sampled only last year. I have no dispute with Jason’s matching of IPA with Tertullian. Both beer and theologian are good to start with, but they don’t end well. Tertullian is “the Father of Latin theology” and the oldest extant writer to use the term Trinity, but towards the end of his life he joined a heretical movement and died outside the Church. As for IPA, on the one occasion I’ve tried it, I was unwilling to drink more than half a glass, and tipped the rest down the sink before happily graduating to the ever-reliable VB.

No Australian beer makes Jason’s list, but perhaps that is as it should be. I’ve heard it said that Australia has failed to produce world-class theologians because the view at Manly is too beautiful, and it distracted seminarians from study.

The barrier between Australia and world-class theology?
(I don’t, of course, endorse the Sydney-centric implications!)


A reader of this blog — a connoisseur of beer and theology — had identified an Australian match!

You can read the rationale in the comments below. I wish I’d thought of it. But perhaps only an avowed fan of Foster’s Lager could.

H/T Joel.

Catholic students conference

Catholic students conference

The national conference of the Australian Catholic Students Association starts this Friday, and it’s not too late to register.

The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is Fr Aidan Nichols OP, a world-class theologian and author whose Shape of Catholic Theology I recommend as the introduction to theology for beginners.

Other speakers include Kevin Andrews, a Catholic MP who introduced the private members’ bill which rescinded the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation. He will speak on the defence of human dignity in the political and cultural realms.

Also not to be missed is Prof Tracey Rowland, who has earned herself new notoriety in the current edition of The Tablet. She will speak on the theology of culture, which is at the heart of her critique of post-conciliar reforms.

I was heavily involved with ACSA in my university days, though back then it was called the International Movement of Catholics Students Australia (IMCSA). I got involved at a low ebb in the organisation’s history, and the IMCSA was in very real danger of shutting down. We built it up again by focusing on the spiritual formation of members and organising conferences intended to revive Catholic intellectual life in Australian universities.

Ten years later, those early successes have been consolidated, allowing ACSA to broaden its appeal. A gala ball and a State of Origin footy rugby match (wouldn’t have happened in my day!!) are now permanent fixtures in the conference agenda.

I would highly recommend the conference to anyone at university, whether they’re Catholic or not. ACSA Conferences aren’t tent revival meetings — they’re a place to challenge ideas and be challenged by ideas; a place to meet other students who are serious about changing the world; and a place to have fun. (Foreign football codes notwithstanding.)

If you know anyone who is at university, send them this link. If they end up going, they’ll probably thank you for it!

Diplomatic Honour for Melbourne theologian

Diplomatic Honour for Melbourne theologian

Last Thursday Professor Tracey Rowland was awarded the the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. It was conferred by the Polish Ambassador to Australia on behalf of the President of Poland.

The decoration is the highest distinction the Polish government gives to foreign nationals. It is a diplomatic order awarded for enhancing Poland’s standing abroad and contributing to cooperation between Poland and other countries. As such, it is typically awarded to diplomats. As the Ambassador remarked, “It is not often that theologians are recognised by this distinction.”

Prof Rowland is one of the Anglosphere’s foremost experts on the theology of Pope Benedict, and shares with him an interest in theological anthropology and the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. There’s no better introduction to these subjects, I think, than Rowland’s Ratzinger’s Faith. (Her Guide for the Perplexed is a more demanding title for advanced students of theology.)

This Polish award demonstrates that Prof Rowland is also no slouch when it comes to the scholarship of Pope John Paul II. I notice that earlier this year, Rowland presented a paper in Poland on the Civilization of Love in the thought of John Paul II.

Speeches and photos from the conferral are available online. They’re worth a look.

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