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#99 Taking up a pipe at Bible college

posted by Stephanie Drury

WWJRRD?

American evangelicals conventionally eschew the smoking of anything but an exception is somehow made when a seminary student takes up the inevitable pipe. It makes him feel Inklings-esque.

Bible college (seminary’s inferior cousin) also fosters pipe smokers. Students and faculty who identify as missional or emergent furtively gather to ponder Kierkegaard and epistemology whilst chomping on pipe stems. From here it is just a short hop onto the hookah train. Next thing you know they’re congregating in hookah bars (the married guys must first convince their wives, who are initially horrified) to discuss tobaccos, reformed theology, and IPAs. This makes them feel relevant.

The unorthodoxist’s mecca.

This sort of carrying on occurs mostly at seminaries in Canada and on the U.S. coasts where pub culture is more prominent. Old-guard Christian culture decries pubs and drinking of any sort as “of the world” so you’ll have to go elsewhere to pretend you’re an Inkling.

The old guard knows its heroes Lewis, Tolkien, Spurgeon and the like smoked and frequented pubs yet it holds an understanding that we should not. Thusly, pipes and their smokers are less acceptable at schools in the midwest and the Bible belt, but you can still suss them out.

Only the edgiest and/or butchest girls participate. Most female students of the Bible have zero involvement in any pipe or hookah ventures due to utter lack of interest.

“Jack, you never pack the bloody bowl right.”
“Sod off, Tollers.”

 

*This post originally aired on October 7, 2009, and warranted reissue due to a Christian men’s group that met at a hookah bar recently.



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Jay

posted September 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm


The old guard knows its heroes Lewis, Tolkien, Spurgeon and the like smoked and frequented pubs yet it holds an understanding that we should not.
That’s exactly right, great post! In my background though, Lewis, et al provided enough cover for me to get away with a pipe (to enjoy a bit of nicotine), whereas a cigarette would have earned a serious rebuke. I wonder how many of those seminarians have to give up the habits (both the pipes and the IPA) to get jobs eventually.



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jestrfyl

posted September 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm


Smoking pipes – or anything else – does not have the cachet it once did. In fact, I almost never see anyone smoke a pipe anymore – and I do not miss it. King James himself decried tobacco as a nasty habit. It was once an accepted – even expected – ritual. Now it is simply what it has been all along, stinky and gross. Trying to emulate great writers and thinkers by sharing their bad habots does not help. However, a dram of whisky does loosen the cerebellum a bit and allow all sorts of freewheeling images to wander through!



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Stephen Charles

posted September 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm


American religionists, one way or another, never seem to know what to do with substance use. Most try and make it about piety one way or another: abstinence means spiritually cleaner or use means spiritually freer (psst, it’s about personal preference). But speaking of meanings, I like the way one writer categorized, in broad strokes (those are the best kinds of strokes), what different forms of tobacco consumption mean:
“Some argue that different forms of tobacco consumption correspond to different parts of the soul. Cigarettes appeal to the appetitive side of the soul, ‘a fact that explains their association with both food and sex.’ People with strong desires demand instant gratification and, therefore, cigarettes. Cigars, however, correspond to the spirited part of the soul, the quest for power and reputation, thus, explaining the popularity of cigars among politicians, business moguls, etc. Pipes relate to the rational part of the soul, hence the common image of wise people smoking pipes, such as the Oxford don or Sherlock Holmes.
“But when it comes to the use of tobacco not involving fire the associations are not so flattering. Chewing tobacco corresponds to the ‘nonhuman — or more accurately, subhuman — parts of the soul.’ It is ‘a quintessentially subhuman activity…the rumination of bovine men. Or perhaps we should say it is camel-like, for camels not only chew, but spit as well.’ That is why we ‘usually associate [chewing tobacco] with men of limited acumen.’”
Translation: it takes all kinds to make the world to ‘round, but pipe smokers are the best people in the world.



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Valerie

posted September 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm


I take it Stephen Charles is a pipe smoker.



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John R

posted September 8, 2010 at 9:01 am


Thought you might like this church banner fail:
http://failblog.org/2010/09/07/epic-fail-photo-banner-fail/



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Stephen Charles

posted September 8, 2010 at 9:38 am


Valerie, no, I only strive to be one. Unfortunately my physical make up which resists nicotine (like it resists coffee, that vile bean) and a wife who hasn’t totally shaken off notions of abstinence’s relation to spiritual purity both conspire against my aspirations.



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Billy

posted September 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm


From what I’ve read, Spurgeon being an avid cigar smoker quit when he saw a life size portrait of himself in a local cigar shop with “Smoke the cigar Spurgeon smokes” written above it. Spurgeon then quit smoking citing that he did not want to be remembered by the cigars he enjoyed. Must say though, Spurgeon is one of my hero’s due to his theology.



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copperchips

posted September 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm


I love the smell of pipe smoke and have forewarned my family that will take up pipe smoking someday, despite the fact that my wife doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do.
Stephen, what kind of physical reaction do you have to pipe smoke?



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LutheranChik

posted September 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm


Come on over to Lutheranism, where beer drinking is almost mandatory!



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Stephen Charles

posted September 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm


CC, when I smell it I get weak knees and swoon with envy. I’ve never smoked it. I’ve smoked other forms of tobacco, and when I do I get a headache and sometimes just a general ill feeling later, so my hunch is that it would be the same with a pipe. My Greek prof at the Baptist seminary said that was the Holy Spirit leaving my body (I’m pretty sure he was joking, but you can never tell with Baptists).
My best friend’s dad was a pipe smoker. I once in high school walked past his pipe sitting on the table. Nobody was around so I picked it up and tried to get a taste…I sucked up some of his cold, leftover spit. That memory still makes my groin shiver with disgust.



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Eli

posted September 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm


This is a rather silly notion (duh, I suppose due to the sccl post). Particularly since pipe/cigar smoking for many of those that CC looks up to (Not to say they weren’t brilliant, of course) was more a thing of their era rather than their spirituality.
Silly, silly CC. Idolizing things (not to mention things that make you ill – in the long run if not the short) rather than sticking to the heart of the matter. Pipe smoking will NOT make you Lewis. Or Tolkien, or any of the others. It will just make you sick.



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phree thinka

posted September 8, 2010 at 2:23 pm


i’m happy to hear about those puffing away while grappling with scritpure…truly there is a remnant within the 501c3



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copperchips

posted September 9, 2010 at 8:41 am


My, my Eli, you are looking too deeply into a very simple comment. I’m not sure where you interpreted my interest in pipe smoking as being a way of idolizing people like C.S. Lewis.
I took up a short stint of pipe smoking as a teenager and I rather enjoyed it.



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Tony D.

posted September 9, 2010 at 11:29 am


Speaking of taking up smoking as a means of idolizing people…nothing to do with CC, but tangential to the conversation…one of the reasons I started smoking cigarettes in high school was that I wanted to look like Chris Squire on the back cover of the “Close to the Edge” album…



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ruffenstein

posted September 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm


I can really relate to this one. But one must not forget that many opponents of Christianity loved pipe smoking as well. Russell was a huge fan of pipe smoking, as well as Einstein. I have it on good authority that Darwin dabbled as well. I personally have smoked as well and have gotten flack for it from my Christian friends my entire adult life.
I do not go to the extremes that my friend has gone to in pipe smoking. He even joined christianpipesmokers.com. If you were to take that website out of context it would make you think it was run by the log cabin republicans.



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ruffenstein

posted September 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm


I can really relate to this one. But one must not forget that many opponents of Christianity loved pipe smoking as well. Russell was a huge fan of pipe smoking, as well as Einstein. I have it on good authority that Darwin dabbled as well. I personally have smoked as well and have gotten flack for it from my Christian friends my entire adult life.
I do not go to the extremes that my friend has gone to in pipe smoking. He even joined christianpipesmokers.com. If you were to take that website out of context it would make you think it was run by the log cabin republicans.



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Eli

posted September 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm


copperchips – I’m sorry! I didn’t mean my comment to be an attack to you at all! It was a response to the whole theme, intended to simply be an agreement to Stephanies thoughts. That’s all. Sorry you took it otherwise! I know a lot of the commentating on here can turn into fighting, so I can see how my comment could have been seen that way as well. OH. Perhaps you thought my reference to “CC” was to you? I indended that to mean Christian Culture. Sorry for the mistake!



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Doug (WearyPilgrim)

posted September 11, 2010 at 9:55 pm


I’ve long been curious about the attraction evangelicals (indeed, some very conservative evangelicals) have to C.S. Lewis. Granted, he was a champion of basic, orthodox Christianity and a brilliant writer, but he smoked a pipe AND CIGARETTES (gasp!), drank a lot, frequently, and with gusto (oh, dear!!) and was . . . an Anglo-Catholic (!!!pick-me-up-off-the-floor, I’ve just fainted). He also believed in Purgatory, which for most evangelicals would place him outside the pale altogether.
. . . His personal archives are at Wheaton College??? I just don’t get it.



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Andrew

posted September 13, 2010 at 12:58 am


puff, puff…
ahem, can anyone breathe/read in here, with all this smoke? (JOKE)



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tallandrew

posted September 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm


Doug, Lewis’ personal archives are at Wheaton college simply because they had the money (and I think they were the onl ones interested in buying them) when the house was sold on Warnie’s death in the 1970′s. Rest assured, the house, his church, his grave, and The Eagle and Child are still in Oxford where they have always been.



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Alex

posted September 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm


As both an agnostic and a Tolkien fan, I had to love this post. Tolkien was the greatest writer of the 20th Century, easily.
That said, I’m not a fan of smoking or hookah bars. There are serious health risks to hookah, including gum cancer.



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hookah

posted June 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm


I read your blog when I was in Quebec. I bookmarked your site and read your post again when I reached CA after I purchased my new ed online computer. The site is excellent and looks the best in new!



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pipe tobacco in Phoenix, Arizona

posted July 1, 2011 at 12:35 am


I am searching good quality and in large amount of pipe tobacco in Phoenix, Arizona. Is there any whole sale company gave me pipe tobacco in large quantity in discount rate?



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