Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Luther -- The Man, The Myth, The Movie

Sorry I've been invisible lately. Lots of stress, for a variety of different reasons. Hopefully things will get better soon, but I have a feeling posting may be erratic for a while -- possibly until the end of the semester.

Martin Luther at age 46, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529 On a non-stressful topic, I saw Luther on Friday night, and was blown away by it. Not that it was necessarily the best movie ever made. But, like Titanic, it gives you a real impression of what people might have seen and heard at a particular point in history.

I think if you've been exposed to something all your life, you sometimes don't really get the point. Growing up Lutheran, I've known about the 95 theses and Luther's wrath over indulgences for as long as I can remember.

The phrase "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise" is stuck in my head, but not because I really comprehended it. Instead, it was part of a church camp chant that we'd repeat every morning before announcements:

Gooood Mooorning, Mister Craig. And what a fine morning it is. Yes, yes, indeed. The sun is peeking through the clouds, and it looks like it's going to be a wonnnderfulll day. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me, Amen. A might fortress is our God. His banner over me is love. Turn, Turn, Turn. Oh, rocka my soul, Baby! A Do Run Run Run, A Do Run Run.
(Or something along those lines -- it was like 20 years ago!)

The point is, that when something is drummed into you in such a relentless and silly way, it loses all meaning. So that's why I was blown away by the scene where Luther stands in front of representatives of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor (who could easily have him burned at the stake) and refuses to recant his writings.

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

This dude is thumbing his nose at the most powerful people in the world, in a time when due process wasn't even a glimmer on the horizon. Not something you realize when the phrase is a prelude to announcements about tonight's big game of capture the flag.

To be sure, the movie is probably a rose-colored look at the life of a complex person. Nothing is said, for example, of Luther's antisemitic writings -- which reflected his time but are incongruous with his otherwise progressive views.

Still, I found the movie to be inspiring. If nothing else, it made me want to revisit Germany. I think we breezed by some Luther-related sites during our whirlwind 3-week stay in high school, but I'd like to see more. So I was also inspired to dust off my German book and order a new set of flash cards.

Nothing new there, I guess. I think my restlessness in Nashville is reaching new heights lately. And that's saying something.�

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