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.

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