Monday, October 27, 2008

The Guardian on Martin Luther

In an effort to dish the dirt on ‘the father of Protestantism’, The Guardian reports that scientists have found his toilet and various medicines which establish he suffered from angina and constipation. They also profess to have discovered that the Luthers used to throw dead cats into their rubbish bin, and that the nails used to secure the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg were nothing more than drawing pins.

In addition, he was portly and well-fed, weighing in at 23st 8lb when he died. And he was not born into humble and lowly circumstances, but into a wealthy, land-owning family of usurers.

But the claim by historians which will arguably be most upsetting for followers is the recently uncovered written evidence that it was not, as thought, a lightning bolt which led to the then 21-year-old's spontaneous declaration he wanted to become a monk. Rather, it was his desperation to escape an impending arranged marriage.

Cranmer is not disturbed by any of this, for the details of disputed points of history will always be subject to degrees of interpretation, and the hagiographers will always embellish the reputations of their idols.

But His Grace does wish to ask The Guardian why it does not give the same treatment to (say) Mohammed, the father of Islam, or to Guru Nanak, the father of Sikhism, or to any one of a number of popes who profess to be the fathers of princes and kings.

One wonders if there is some symbiosis between The Guardian's anti-Semitism and its anti-Protestant attitudes.


Anonymous offender for a word said...

When most men are in their early twenties, they are challenging or at least probing the moral constraints of their parents and culture. Days are spent in half-hearted study. Nights are a furious blend of skirt-chasing and binge-drinking. When Luther was in his early twenties, he was donning the hairshirt, scrubbing the monastery floors, and lying in the snow for hours, all in an absurd but deeply sincere quest for personal salvation.

The man was honest, decent, and brilliant. Only in his fulminations against Judaism do we find something repellent about the great Martin Luther.

27 October 2008 at 17:32  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

27 October 2008 at 17:51  
Blogger Cranmer said...

His Grace is not overly tolerant of foul language.

27 October 2008 at 18:15  
Anonymous the recusant said...

So he was a very rich very fat man who wanted the peasants kept in their place or killed. Who can forget the immortal words in Luther’s treatise of 1525 ‘Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants in which immortal lines included “The peasants were like a mad dog which had to be destroyed. Siding firmly with the Nobility and rulers, the government, he argued, must use its God given office to subdue the peasants' rebellion (the largest uprising in German history) with force, the only language they understood”. In the wake of this tract the nobility quelled the rebellion and Luther could boast of being the inspiration for the death of about 100,000 peasants. Compare that with about 6,000 deaths from the entire Inquisition of 500 years.

He became a monk to escape an arranged marriage, obviously a man without any vocation; he was a user people and institutions for his own ends and threw dead cats in his rubbish tip (bet he killed them too). He and his family fed off the fat of the land eating among other things robins (he did kill them) roast goose, piglets and instead of fasting like those naughty Catholics he tucked into expensive fish including herring, cod, and plaice.

Weighed 23 stone! - lots of robins, he was so rich he could afford lots of medicines, found in the dig and was careless about money - a collection of 250 silver coins were found in his house and his wife, not surprisingly, was careless about the marriage - archaeologists found her gold wedding ring.

But the best part is he wrote his theses on the lavatory, now we know the true origins of the reformation, conceived in the toilet, written on toilet paper, I knew it was a load of old night soil, this just proves it.

27 October 2008 at 18:39  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Recusant, you're reading selectively and inaccurately. The Guardian says quite clearly:

"The most extensive research carried out at the family home in Wittenberg showed that Luther wrote his celebrated texts with goose quills under lamps lit by animal fat, in a heated room which overlooked the River Elbe. It obviously suited him because he churned out 1,800 pages a year. It debunks something of the Luther myth to know he wrote the 95 theses on a stone toilet, which was dug up in 2004."

So your last point is rubbish.

But you can go on believing what it suits papists to believe, if it makes you feel any better.

27 October 2008 at 20:13  
Anonymous offender for a word said...

Yes, it was all about comfort, ease, and opulence for old Marty Luther. That's why he challenged the most powerful institution in the world. Perfectly obvious.

27 October 2008 at 21:06  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

The Guardian is a wee bit ambiguous here. Did he write his 95 theses sitting on a stone toilet, if so it makes a change from reading the Sun; or did he use the stone toilet (lid down) as a sort of table? Or were the 95 theses all on the topic of the toilet - de Rerum Scatalogicaram? If so he must have been somewhat obsessed.

Joking aside Your Grace, these new revelations tell us little more than the picture painted by John Osborne in his play 'Luther' many years ago, with Albert Finney in an early role.

27 October 2008 at 21:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ultramontane grumpy old catholic...

Did they have lids in those days?

27 October 2008 at 22:28  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...


Did they have lids..?

It's these erudite blogs such as His Grace's that I consult to find out.

27 October 2008 at 22:52  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Gentlemen (?) -

Your lavatoriocity is terrific. And I don't see any proof here of your claims. Or did the germans invade Luther's privacy by means of early video-surveillance?

Surely the significance of the 95 theses lies in the specific complaints they made about Catholicism? Of which I see nothing, here. And last time I mentioned them some Marxist euro type he dismissed Protestant concerns as 'perceived' abuses of the faithful.

And surely Luther wasn't the first to have noticed the problems: you can see them all in a quick read of Chaucer. Oh, I know he also put plenty of lavatoriocity in the eyes and ears of people who like that sort of thing - I see it as part of Chaucer's 'irony' ... satire, really: an insult to those who can't raise their thoughts from bodily functions in order to contemplate 'Charity'. 'Twas ever thus, tha knaws!

Chaucer himself was contemporary with Wyclif and the Lollards, of course - a pre-Reformation if there ever was one. Brits used to tend in that direction, after all: away from domination by foreign powers and their taxes. Aye, 'twas thus.

28 October 2008 at 01:36  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Post Script: Sorry: that was "to a Marxist ...etc."

And, in response to His Grace's consideration of anti-semitism while I'm still on Chaucer ... "The Prioress's Tale" presents the issue in a fourteenth century perspective. There's loads of scholarship and interpretation about it and about - but again I would argue that just because the poet presents an anti-semitic character doesn't mean he thought that way himself. I think, rather, that his irony highlights the illogic implicit in the common RC approach of his day: because Mary and her Christ-child were Jewish, and they were the models for the protaganist of the Prioress's Tale.

So yes: there is a tradition of (perceiving!) anti-semitism in Roman Catholicism. What the present-day connection might be - well, this blog site has shown we've got a tad more complicated, even if the 'players' remain the same!

28 October 2008 at 02:23  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Sorry again - 'protagonist'

28 October 2008 at 02:26  
Anonymous Tyranny said...

Shocker, the Guardian doing a hatchet job, but a pretty feebe attempt, even by their standards

28 October 2008 at 09:00  
Anonymous len said...

Ive heard of the gutter press , but to descend into someones toilet bowl?.
Does anyone take the Guardian seriously?.

30 October 2008 at 18:07  

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