Theology and Pipe Smoking, Part II: Miscellanies both Theological and Liturgical


Part I Part II Part III Appendix


Ranging from the clever and profound (mostly not my own), to the silly (mostly mine), here are some theological and liturgical miscellanies relating to the smoking of pipes.





Order for the Solemn Blessing of a New Pipe


Ideally a new pipe should be blessed by the bishop, but in his absence a lower cleric may be authorized.  The Canticle Benedicite (p. 16) should be sung.  In Eastertide the antiphon, A pillar of cloud went before them by day and a pillar of fire by night, may be added.  Then shall be read:


A reading from the prophet Isaiah: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.


            R. Thanks be to God.


            V. The Lord be with you.

            R. And with thy spirit.


Let us pray: God of incense, burning coals, and of the pillars of fire, vouchsafe to + bless this pipe, that it may become a source of enjoyment and a constant reminder of thy goodness, at whose right hand our pleasures forevermore; through Christ our Lord 


R. Amen.


All shall then retire for a smoke as the choir and organ break forth joyously in the Te Deum.


                      From Arthur D. Yunker Toward a Theology of Pipesmoking, p.49



Tobaccos & Pipes which by virtue of character, unique quality, or coincidence of geography, pair well with particular theological/philosophical ideas/books, empirically manifested & conveniently annotated (together with some notes on taste and smokabilty).




Tobacco: Three Nuns– Three Nuns was the favorite tobacco of both C.S. Lewis and his brother; one wonders if The Kilns doesn’t still reek of the stuff.  Unfortunately, it seems hard to come by in the colonies (that’s US), but can be ordered over the internets.   

Pairings: Mere Christianity, the theological/allegorical bits of Narnia, and Christian apologetics in general, though some of the most recent evangelical apologetic writing (McDowell for instance) deserves not to be read, but lit aflame with a trusty butane pipe

lighter (as you know it would be bad form to use a cheap gas station lighter; conventions must be followed, after all).

Tasting Notes: I unfortunately have not had the honor of smoking it, but if C.S. Lewis liked, hell…


1864-perfectTobacco: 1864: Perfect Mixture by W.Ø. Larsen   W.Ø. Larsen, as some of you may have guessed from the Larsen and the /Ø/ is a Danish producer of both pipes and tobacco.  Named for the 9th anniversary of Søren Kierkegaard’s death, 1864 should be smoked in Scandinavian and Scandinavian inspired pipes.  I typically smoke it in my Nørding (also Danish) with fantastic results.

Pairing: The works of Søren Kierkegaard, but especially the Preface to Fear and Trembling, which is an eloquent meditation on the story of Abraham Sacrificing Isaac.  

Tasting Notes: 1864 is my favorite tobacco.  It’s sweet but not overpowering odour reminds one of fresh maple syrup being poured onto pancakes enjoyed before embarking on a crisp, chilly walk near the fjørd.  Mainly comprised of premium Virginia, it is mixed with Black Cavendish and a hint of Burley, which in non-uber-nerd terms means that it lights easily, burns evenly, and produces a dense, very smooth, and delicate smoke, which is the perfect consistency for blowing smoke rings. 


meerschaum-dragonPipe Type: Meerschaum– Meerschaum pipes are carved, many times into whimsical shapes, from a soft grayish mineral of the same name.  The lion’s share of this mineral is mined in Turkey especially inbetween Istanbul and Ankara.  Meerschaum pipes may in the near future become rather scarce as the Turkish government is getting a little ticklish about exporting it.

Pairing: The works of the Church Fathers of Constantinople.  Why not curl up in front of the fire place with the sermons of John Chrysostom, or maybe St. Gregory Nazianzen on Pneumatology?

Smoking Notes: Though I own one not, I have smoked several, but can’t pinpoint exactly what makes it a different experience than a briar (though it is different).  One cool thing about them is that as ones smokes the Meerschaum over time the color changes from grayish white, to yellow, to orange, to red. 


churchwarden1Pipe Type: Churchwarden– Churchwarden pipes are named after that particular office in Anglican parish churches.  As the name implies, Churchwardens take care of and police the church property.  I don’t remember where I read it, but it seems I read that one of the Churchwarden’s responsibilities back in 17th and 18th century England was to poke sleeping congregants with a long stick.  Maybe that’s where they got the idea for a pipe with a very long stem.  In the Lord of the Rings Movies, Gandalf smokes a Churchwarden pipe (wow, that sounds dirty), which is clear and undeniable proof that Gandalf is an Anglican—witchcraft, false worship, beware! 

Pairing: The churchwarden was made for reading, as the smoke will be well away from your eyes and you can more easily look down at a book in your lap as you sit in the easy chair by the fire place in the corner of your study.  And what should you read?  The Anglican Divines, of course.  Robert Hooker, known as the father of the Via Media, would be a great choice.  Other possibilities might include Archbishop Cranmer, and Matthew Parker.  Modern day Anglicans are a heck of a lot of fun, too: Archbishop Rowan Williams is an erudite and serious thinker (who like myself loves Dostoyevsky), and I certainly don’t need to talk up the Bishop of Durham on this blog, his reputation speaks for itself.

Smoking Notes: Churchwardens produce amazingly cool smoke, as it has more of an opportunity to cool in the extra distance between the bowl and your mouth.  Depending on how you smoke, they may be a little trickier keeping lit.


frog-mortonTobacco: Frog Morton by McClelland Tobacco Co.- Frog Morton and its sister blends Frog Morton on the Town, on the Bayou, & across the Pond are mainly a blend of Virginia and Latakia.  Here’s what the blending notes say about the name:

“The name Frog Morton comes to us from the works of JRR Tolkein Frogmorton: A village in the Eastfarthing of the Shire. It stood on the East Road, between the Three-farthing Stone (fourteen miles to the west) and the Brandywine Bridge (twenty-two miles to the east). Immediately to the north of the village, the stream known as the Water broke into two, creating a wide watery region – this feature seems to have given Frogmorton its name, which means ‘frog marsh’. Until the War of the Ring, the village seems to have been most notable for its inn, the Floating Log. During the brief time when Saruman took over the Shire, though, it became the home of the First Eastfarthing Troop of Shirriffs, and it was here that the returning Ring-bearers were ‘arrested’ on their journey back to Hobbiton.”  

Tasting Notes: This must be said first.  Frog Morton is a very deceptive tobacco.  When you smell it before it is lit, it smells very spicy, almost peppery—that’s the Latakia.  However, lit it is very smooth with no bite.  It has a uniquely earthy flavor as if you could take earth right after a good rain, and pack into your bowl and light it(not that I would try this literally). When had with a glass of Belgian Abbey it leaves your mouth with all the good parts of a cigar aftertaste. 

Pairing: Frog Morton is a delightfully playful blend, fraught with paradoxes (not in the least because the label depicts a frog smoking a pipe: hilarious).  In this regard, it is a metaphor for the whole theological exercise.  Not only is theology full of paradoxes, but at its best it is playful, elusive, whimsical.  For this reason, I suggest reading the parables of Jesus with this tobacco.  Jesus did not formulate his theology with dry and boring syllogisms, but with captivating stories about farmers and vineyards, bread and fields with hidden treasure.  It is exactly this connection with the earth, this grounded-ness—which is so paradoxically transcendent—that make Jesus’ teachings, and secondarily this tobacco so luminous and illuminating.


And finally a poem,


Smoking Spiritualized. In Two Parts. The first part being an old meditation upon smoking tobacco; the second, a new addition to it, or improvement of it.  by Rev. Ralph Erskine

This Indian weed now wither´d quite,
Though green at noon, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The pipe so lily-like and weak,
Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.
Thou are ev´n such,
Gone with a touch.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

All when the smoke ascends on high,
Then thou behold´st the vanity
Of worldly stuff,
Gone with a puff.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the pipe grows foul within,
Think on thy soul defil´d with sin;
For then the fire,
It does require.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And seest the ashes cast away;
Then to thyself thou mayest say,
That to the dust
Return thou must.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Part II

Was this small plant for thee cut down?
So was the Plant of great renown;
Which mercy sends
For nobler ends.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Doth juice medicinal proceed
From such a naughty foreign weed?
Then what´s the pow´r
Of Jesse´s flow´r?
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The promise, like the pipe inlays,
And by the mouth of faith conveys
What virtue flows
From Sharon´s rose.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

In vain the´unlighted pipe you blow;
Your pains in outward means are so,
Till heav´nly fire
The heart inspire.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The smoke, like burning incense, tow´rs;
So should a praying heart of yours,
With ardent cries,
Surmont the skies.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.”


 from The Sermons, and Other Practical Works of Ralph Erskine




  1. Hillarious!

    I think someone is going to stumble across this site and wonder where we get the time for such profound musings.


  2. This is one of my favorite posts on this site. James, you need to write your posts in wordpad though because the code on this thing is ridiculous.


  3. I will forgive your complete neglect of aromatic tobaccos, this time, and while churchwardens are easily some of the coolest pipes, the pipe most conducive to doing things with your hands while smoking (i.e. reading, fishing, billiards, etc.) is the billiard pipe. Churchwardens can be so long they are difficult to hold just with the teeth. However, on a positive note, I am particularly fond of your evaluation of Jesus’ parables. You have entertained some lofty ideas here, in spite of your-latakia-loving-self.


  4. You make an excellent point about churchwardens. I have trouble keeping any pipe in my mouth for long without the use of hands, so no-hands pipes usually aren’t on my radar; although the billiard, I think, is my favorite shape.

    Concerning your aromatics, I was considering making an appendix to this post: “Tobaccos which by special character, flavorings or odors are deemed fit only for heretics whose own pyres will be lit by the unholy sparks eminating from their mango-jungle berry flavored tobacco, who will be burnt alive for the edification of the flock, and whose burning flesh will create a sweet aroma wafting to heaven ad majorem dei gloriam” (sorry for being crass, I just went back and reread the “Grand Inquisitor” section of the Brothers Karamazov so the imagery of burning of heretics at the stake is fresh in my mind).


  5. Now you are starting to sound like the authoritarian fundamentalist you were trained to be. I am so proud.


  6. That’s freaking amazing.

    I love smoking my pipe, which my wife got me, but never do because she hates the smell of it.

    Now, it constitutes the worst gift in history: the best gift that can never be used!


  7. You should post this on my site in the forums. I have a Bible Thumping section that I post things from my Bible Studies and Devotions, I really enjoyed the first two parts. Looking forward to the third!


  8. Are you the same James Stambaugh that writes for the Institute for Creation Research?

    For some reason your submissions to this blog do not seem as professional as the ones you write for

    I guess you are trying to be funny here, but you try to be professional there.


  9. I have enjoyed reading your posts tonight while I smoke a bowl of positively Satanic Haddo’s Delight on the back deck. Now back to the stars, the moon, and my evening prayers. I feel closer to God about 2/3 the way through the bowl. If you are ever out this way, look me up, and we will convene a meeting of the pipe-smoking Episcopalians and talk theology on the shores of the Salish Sea.


  10. What?!? You mean there hasn’t been any counter- opinion on this issue? Fine, I’ll play Devil’s advocate…I’m going to play the trump card and just blatantly say “SMOKING IS NOT OF GOD!” Whew, it was hard to say that without breaking out into laughter.

    I remember my first cigar experience. It was on the roof of a “certain” building at a “certain” school. And I had one of the best theological conversations of my life.


  11. “Are you the same James Stambaugh that writes for the Institute for Creation Research?

    For some reason your submissions to this blog do not seem as professional as the ones you write for

    I guess you are trying to be funny here, but you try to be professional there.”

    How did I miss this! Oh man, I have not laughed this hard in a few days.

    Tell me, James, how are things over at answering Genesis? I mean, I am sure you’re just as qualified to make scientific denouncements of evolution as some of their real contributors, right? LOL


  12. I hate you Shawn. I’ve been trying to keep that secret in the bag–the secret that there’s a crazy James Stambaugh running around pretending to be a “creation scientist.” How embarasing. Just think if my friends at the Cathedral found out. He’s got an MA, I wonder if its in creation science? Anyway, I’ve known about that guy for a while. I’m glad its amusing to you.


  13. I stumbled across this site.

    I wonder how you find time for such profound musings.

    Keep the faith brother.


  14. Bravo! An excellent website. A perfect blend of theology and pipe smoking. Excellent work, gentlemen. Godspeed.


  15. A theologue for 25 years and a pipe smoker for 13, your lovely article has brought a tear to my eye. *snif, sniff* Bless you my son.


  16. Just, on this occasion we brought out our pipe as well as cigarette when frank went with regard to his / her. It had been essentially the most computer animation i needed seen from the man throughout weeks. He said, “my partner and i didn’t understand an individual smoked cigarettes any water pipe.”tobacco


  17. FYI, Yunker whom you quote above is Rev. Arthur D. Yunker, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Pascagoula, Mississippi, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. His order of blessing has not made it into the new LCMS hymnal despite the present synodical president (presiding bishop to you Anglicans) Rev. Matthew Harrison being a pipe smoker.


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