Circus Theology



                           "Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages!"


The circus dates back over 4,000 years ago to Egypt,

                                                                    …to ancient Rome and the Circus Maximus,

                                                                        where chariot races were held in the

                                                                        "circus" (Latin for "oval" or "circle"), and

                                                                    …England's Philip Astley, who is credited

                                                                       with developing the modern circus in 1777,

                                                                       held in a circular arena that was referred to

                                                                       as the "ring", and

                                                                   …is now understood to be a traveling show

                                                                      that features feats of physical skill,

                                                                                        …wild animal acts (and some

                                                                                           not so wild),

                                                                                       …red and gold tableau wagons,

                                                                                       …a steam calliope (voiced as of

                                                                                           a host of angels),

                                                                                       …spirited music of the band, and


                                                                                          All lend themselves well as

                                                                                               metaphors of Christianity.


The ring itself: metaphor of the world which God created (cf Genesis 1) and

                                    …for which "he gave his only begotten Son" (cf  John 3:16),

                                    …and the place where Jesus spent most of his time ministering,

                                       "Galilee," (its root in Hebrew meaning "ring" or "circle") to the

                                       "oohs" and "aahs" of the people there (cf Matthew 4:23-25).


The calliope.  That steam sustained, harsh-sounding musical instrument whose name

                      literally means "beautifully voiced," as of angels heralding a birth (cf Luke



The music of the Circus Spectacular page being played in the background of an

                  …audiences "oohs" and "aahs,"

                                    …laughs and giggles

                  …and the "toots" of a clown troops horns, is the usual circus melody of

                                                                                  …"Thunder and Blazes" better

                                                                                      known as

                                                                                  …"Entrance of the Gladiators"

                                                                                     reminding us of the early days of

                                                                                                              Christianity and

                                                                                                           …gladiators in the



                                                                                                               under Vespasian

                                                                                                              and Domitian.


The ringmaster who whistles and invites "ladies and gentlemen,

                                                                  …and children of all ages" (cf Matthew 18:3)

                                                                     …to come and directs all

                                                                     …to see (cf John 1:46) the "greatest show

                                                                                                                  on earth" in 3

                                                                                                                  rings, reminding

                                                                                                                  us of the Trinity:

                                                                                                                  …God the


                                                                                                                  …God the Son


                                                                                                                  …God the Holy

                                                                                                                      Spirit, and

                                                                                                                      especially the

                                                                                                                      center ring

                                                                                                                      where life

                                                                                                                      lessons  of

                                                                                                                      Jesus are



                                                                      Lessons in three rings:

                                                                      …of trapeze artists and tight rope walkers

                                                                          "letting go and trusting God" (cf Soren

                                                                          Kirkegaard) and

                                                                      …of the clowns, "fools for Christ's sake"

                                                                          which the apostle Paul calls us who

                                                                          follow (cf I Corinthians 4:10; Floyd

                                                                          Shaffer): vulnerable lovers,

                                                                                      …symbols of hope and joy,

                                                                                      …the glue that holds the circus

                                                                                          together, especially when

                                                                                          something goes wrong,

                                                                                      …nonconformists and servants,

                                                                                      …those "clods," and

                                                                                                …"lumps of clay" (which

                                                                                                    the Anglo-Saxon word

                                                                                                    "clown" means) which

                                                                                                    we all are and see in the

                                                                                                    sideshow mirrors.


All of this and more under "the big top" of God's grace.  Let the show begin.


                                    "Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages."

Ringmaster Clicka

Davey and Goliath® and Davey and Goliath characters are registered trademarks of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and are reproduced by special permission of Augsburg-Fortress Publishing, Minneapolis, Minnesota. All rights reserved. Davey and Goliath bring the Christian gospel and moral and faith-based values to a new generation of children in lively and enjoying ways. The following Circus Designs have been developed for the small church by circus ringmaster, Cindy Esposito and Pr. Dale H. Beutler. Permission is granted to churches to use the Circus Designs as a basis for their Christian Education program.