About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Luther and the Devil

Reformation Sunday is coming up.
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, ein gute Wehr und Waffen.
Will be sung again in many churches. 
A mighty fortress is our God a bulwark never failing.
It is “a battle hymn” of Lutheran reformation.
    It is thick with references of fight against the powers of Evil, the Ancient Foe, a grim Prince of Darkness, the world filled with and under the control of the Devil. From Luther’s own sermons, table talks and letters we know these were not mere metaphors reserved for his earthly enemies. Luther believed in the physical existence of the Devil and furthermore, he underwent a number of hallucinatory episodes when he saw or experienced the presence and certainly talked or rather had shouting matches with the Devil. With a gusto Luther also blamed the Devil (rather than his German diet) for his own chronic constipation and kidney stones.
    History textbooks, and Sunday School lessons are mostly quiet about it because when Luther spoke about the Devil, his normally colorful language became outright obscene (coprolalic). But from the uncensored Martin Luther we know that he not only hallucinated the Devil, but also engaged with the Devil in shouting matches full of obscenities. From his own words and from testimony of his close friends we also know that at several occasions in his life Luther was throwing at the hallucinated Devil not only scatologic words, but the very smelly stuff itself.
And that is something you might not know about Martin Luther.

Luther might had been a father of Reformation ushering in the modern times and sensitivities but his own world-view and his personal religiosity were permeated with the contemporary vulgar German culture and infused with the late-medieval superstitions and prejudice. We must not hide this truth.
     Luther remains an important theologian and reformer and at the same time a conflicted, highly troubled, deeply prejudiced and vulgar medieval German hick. How is it possible? How does it go together? It remains a historical mystery and Luther himself would probably refer to a miracle of divine grace.
    Come this Sunday as we combine themes of Reformation and Halloween and observe Luther in his relationship to witches. Luther’s deeply troubling superstitions can help us fend off prejudices in our society and culture.

"Birth and Origins of Pope" - a woodcut by Lucas Cranach.
Made according to Luther's instructions.
The Devil gives anal birth to the pope and clergy, who are nursed and cared by some demonic figures.

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