Speights and Barth on real men


Whether we’re talking of Monteiths, or Three Boys, or Emersons, or West Coast Brewing, New Zealand’s south island can boast being the home of some really decent beers (my own home brew included). One of the local favourites is Speights, whose Old Dark I’ve been enjoying of late. One of the most alluring features of Speights is their ad campaign, exploiting all the time-honoured associations between beer, horses, open spaces and ‘real’ men. Not only are there the amazing photos, (the ones of the river crossing and of the stag are two of my favourites) but one can also complete the Southern Man ID Chart, and sing the Southern Man Song which promotes:

Now I might not be rich
But I like things down here
We got the best looking girls
And the best damn beer
So you can keep your Queen City [Auckland]
With your cocktails and cool
Give me a beer in a seven
With the boys shooting pool

All part of what it means to be a ‘real’ man, right?

And then there’s Barth’s account in CD III/2 of what being a ‘real’ man looks like:

Real man lives with God as His covenant-partner. For God has created him to participate in the history in which God is at work with him and he with God; to be His partner in this common history of the covenant. He created him as His covenant-partner. Thus real man does not live a godless life – without God. A godless explanation of man, which overlooks the fact that he belongs to God, is from the very outset one which cannot explain real man, man himself. Indeed, it cannot even speak of him. It gropes past him into the void. It grasps only the sin in which he breaks the covenant with God and denies and obscures his true reality. Nor can it really explain or speak of his sin. For to do so it would obviously have to see him first in the light of the fact that he belongs to God, in his determination by the God who created him, and in the grace against which he sins. Real man does not act godlessly, but in the history of the covenant in which he is God’s partner by God’s election and calling. He thanks God for His grace by knowing Him as God, by obeying Him, by calling on Him as God, by enjoying freedom from Him and to Him. He is responsible before God, i.e., He gives to the Word of God the corresponding answer. That this is the case, that the man determined by God for life with God is real man, is decided by the existence of the man Jesus. Apart from anything else, this is the standard of what his reality is and what it is not. It reveals originally and definitively why God has created man. The man Jesus is man for God. As the Son of God He is this in a unique way. But as He is for God, the reality of each and every other man is decided. God has created man for Himself. And so real man is for God and not the reverse. He is the covenant-partner of God. He is determined by God for life with God. This is the distinctive feature of his being in the cosmos. – Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III.2 (ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Thomas F. Torrance; trans. Harold Knight, et al.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1960), 203.

To be sure, I’ll keep enjoying my Old Dark, and Speights’ amazing pics, but as for me and my house (even though there’s been some question in the past about the manliness of my manhood), we’re going with Uncle Karl on this one.




  1. I love how speights talks it up like that and then otago finishes in the bottom four of the air new zealand cup :) great post though Jason


Comments welcome here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.