Bach an Antinomian!?

Luther Rose Cigar BandYou might think so if you’re of the same mind as the Lutheran pastor who said it was “inappropriate” to have a cigar band imprinted with the Luther Rose and Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum Concordia A. D. 1580. Read this poem written by J. S. Bach about his pipe smoking, and you tell me whether smoking a cigar to ashes banded with a reminder about the eternal Word of God is or is not a fitting reminder of the Faith.

            I take my pipe and stuff it

            And smoke to pass the time away

            My thoughts, as I sit there and puff it,

            Dwell on a picture sad and grey:

            It teaches me that very like

            Am I myself unto my pipe.


            Like me this pipe, so fragrant burning,

            Is made of naught but earthen clay;

            To earth I too shall be returning,

            And cannot halt my slow decay.

            My well used pipe, now cracked and broken,

            Of mortal life is but a token.


            No stain, the pipe’s hue yet doth darken;

            It remains white. Thus do I know

            That when to death’s call I must harken

            My body, too, all pale will grow.

            To black beneath the sod ’twill turn,

            Likewise the pipe, if oft it burn.


            Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,

            Behold then instantaneously,

            The smoke off into thin air going,

            ‘Til naught but ash is left to see.

            Man’s fame likewise away will burn

            And unto dust his body turn.


            How oft it happens when one’s smoking,

            The tamper’s missing from its shelf,

            And one goes with one’s finger poking

            Into the bowl and burns oneself.

            If in the pipe such pain doth dwell

            How hot must be the pains of Hell!


            Thus o’er my pipe in contemplation

            Of such things – I can constantly

            Indulge in fruitful meditation,

            And so, puffing contentedly,

            On land, at sea, at home, abroad,

            I smoke my pipe and worship God.

A Lutheran layman gave me this cigar he had specially made after it was scorned (?) pooh-poohed (?) pietistically (?) refused by another Lutheran pastor he rightly left unnamed. Perhaps the brother pastor was merely a non-smoker.  But I accept coffee cups embossed with Lutheran things, and I don’t drink coffee.

Well that pastor’s loss was my gain.  It was a wonderful cigar. I smoked it to the band, and the band didn’t burn.  A miracle? A sign? It was the latter for me. It was a sign that I should buy better cigars.


Bach an Antinomian!? — 6 Comments

  1. I certainly would not turn down a good cigar, even if it had the seal of the papacy on it! Or a bottle of scotch with a Luther seal (hint hint to all the laymen in my congregation who might be reading this). I would gladly drink and smoke and make a toast to Bach, while listening to his fantastic music. So, away with the Pietists who make unfortunate laws for themselves to keep!

  2. While not the genius (musical or theological) of Bach, Carl Sandburg ruminates on mortality and tobacco quite well.

    Crimson, by Carl Sandburg

    Crimson is the slow smolder of the cigar end I hold,
    Gray is the ash that stiffens and covers all silent the fire.
    (A great man I know is dead and while he lies in his coffin a gone flame
    I sit here in cumbering shadows and smoke and watch my thoughts come and go.)

  3. @Theodore Kuster #2

    You got Kipling first!
    [All my favorite authors have been Brits.
    I trace it back to third grade and the Jungle Books.]

    A fine cigar is a pleasure to have in one’s vicinity, outdoors.

    People who reek of cigarettes when they are not smoking… not so much.

  4. Well, our Lord Himself created tobacco. And having been a former cigarette smoker, now limiting myself to pipes, at no time did my use of tobacco seem to affect my behavior towards sin, except when I stole a few of my dad’s smokes. I’m sure he stole a few of mine too.

    Curiously, the only teacher I had in public school who identified herself as a Christian, even going so far as to present the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen for us sinners to the class, was a chain-smoking Calvinist Baptist…

    I would not say that smoking is a sin in itself. But it can cause very serious, terminal illnesses which take us away from our loved ones on earth. So it might be better to avoid or limit the use of tobacco. Also I would not consider smoking marijuana to be a sin in itself, if used at home and not to the point of causing one to adversely affect their vocation. But in purchasing marijuana, it is necessary to buy it from an illegal trade which causes innocent people and law enforcement officers to die. And in my state, marijuana is illegal to smoke. So I choose not to smoke it anymore, until I am in a state where it is legal to smoke and there are no fellow Christians who would be made to stumble in their faith by my smoking.

    Next time I listen to some Bach organ music, I’ll light up my Kaywoodie bulldog pipe with Captain Black Gold and enjoy God’s gifts of music and personal incense…

  5. Captain Black Gold is not an hallucinogen. “Legal” or not, Jamaican Gold is an hallucinogen. And Bach did not, and could not have done what he did were he a pot-head.

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