The University of Chicago Magazine Feb 1995

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Bibfeldt

Special to the World Wide Web

In "Images of Bibfeldt" (The Unrelieved Paradox, pages 155-163), art historian David Morgan, PhD'90, has collected seven faces of Franz, "a series of images which plot his physical appearance from 1957 to 1992. The images, lifted from a variety of international tabloids, show the theologian's personal commitment to being hip." Morgan goes on to cite an accompanying text for each image:

1957: "Skidrow theologian Frank Bibfault [sic] visiting the City of Angels to read a much ballyhooed paper "God is a Howl," at an international conference called `Theology on the Beat.'"--National Enquirer.

1964: "International Theology Guru Franzi B. as he appeared recently in a Liverpool club to hear his friends, John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Mr. B. was disappointed to learn that the boys had gone to the U.S. to do the Sullivan show. The groovy man of God was eventually ejected from the club after angering a mob of fans with the rancorous claim that British rock owed its beat to the waltz."--Sun.

1969: "German churchman Franz Bibfeldt put in a cameo appearance at Woodstock this week. Bibfeldt lost his `cool' when his rented chopper was stolen and he was forced to hitchhike back to LaGuardia."--Star.

1974: Showing off a luxurious coiffure and a thick mat of chest hair, Saxon Disco King and swinging theologian Franz Bibfeldt danced his way to fame last week at East Germany's annual Tanz Alle! competition. Bibfeldt cut a dashing figure in peach and lime-green polyester. Said one observer: `We knew it was going to be wunderbar when he started by throwing his bow tie to the audience…'"--Die Welt.

1978: "Pop culture icon Franz Bibfeldt appearing as host of Saturday Night Live. The German clergyman extraordinaire opened the show by accompanying himself on a xylophone while singing `Ich bin Conehead, wie heisst Du?' set to the melody of `Ein feste Berg.' When this received only cool applause from the jaded New York audience, Bibfeldt tried his infamous Philipp Melanchthon impersonation, which fared little better."--People.

1985: "Punk theologian Franz Bibfeldt after a recent trip to Berlin. When reprimanded for his appearance by his university's rector, Bibfeldt explained the whole thing was a terrible mistake. While in Berlin he'd stopped for a haircut. When the friseur said `Spike?', Bibfeldt had thought he meant his tea and replied `Sehr gut!' The epoxied mohawk came off with a large patch of scalp attached and the pink dye took three months to fade away. `Prussians!' the Saxon churchman exclaimed, `you just can't trust 'em.'"--Scheissblatt.

1992: "Dr. Franz Bibfeldt dressed for male bonding during a recent experience in the manly wilderness of Nebraska's Great Sand Hills. ELCA organizers Butch Linderman and Floyd Goehner welcomed the famous theologian to their weekend retreat where participants were treated to long passages of Bibfeldt's latest book: Bonding of the Will: Lutheran Thoughts on Men Hugging."--The Lutheran.

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