I was reading “Reminiscences of Karl Barth” by John Godsey in the Princeton Seminary Bulletin, ns. 23, no. 3 (2002): 313-24, and came across a funny story that illustrates Barth’s quick wit.
“After the service in a parish church where Barth had been preaching one Sunday, he was met at the door by a man who greeted him with these words: ‘Professor Barth, thank you for your sermon. I’m an astronomer, you know, and as far as I am concerned, the whole of Christianity can be summed up by saying, ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’”
“Barth replied: ‘Well, I am just a humble theologian, and as far as I am concerned the whole of astronomy can be summed up by saying ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.’”
Godsey’s essay also mentioned how proud Barth was of his new desk and chair. The president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary visited Barth and Basel and said the seminary would buy him a new desk if they could have the one he used while writing the Church Dogmatics. Barth thought it was a great deal, and the seminary got a museum piece for cheap.
I wrote Heaven Is a Place on Earth on a closet door slung over two little filing cabinets. I’m still using the filing cabinets, but in case any one is interested, I am willing to trade the door for a quality desk, preferably something by Herman Miller or Steelcase.