Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Martin Luther!

Today is Martin Luther's birthday.  I wrote a long post a year ago which explores many of his views.  If you find Luther a troubling figure, I do understand.  His antisemitism is tough for modern readers.  And many of his views on all sorts of subjects are closer to medieval than modern.

Still, I'm grateful for the Protestant Reformation, which led us in all sorts of directions towards our modern life.  I'm grateful to Luther for translating the Bible into German which made it infinitely more accessible.  I'm grateful to Luther for his decent treatment of his wife.  I'm grateful for the ideas of grace that Luther promoted, even as his ideas about sin make me queasy with their potential to be misused.

Today's post on The Writer's Almanac celebrates the birthday of Luther.  I'm struck by this thought:  "Luther's ideas and his writing led to the Protestant Reformation. But toward the end of his life, he was so overwhelmed by the scope of the revolution he had caused that he stayed out of the limelight, at home in Germany, raising a family, gardening, and playing music."

How interesting to hear that Luther felt this way.  I was always taught that he hadn't meant to launch a revolution when he posted those theses to the Wittenberg door.  But I have assumed that after years of confrontation with the Catholic church, after being hunted and under threat of death, that he would have felt victorious  at the end.

I love Luther's coping mechanism:  to immerse himself into home life and music.  It's good to remember that even as we go out to fight the battles that must be fought, it's good to have retreat time and times of self-nurture.

Here's a Luther quote from The Writer's Almanac:  "God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars."

Most of us still have some delightful weather left to us.  Luther reminds us to enjoy the natural world and to look for evidence of God there too. Soon many of us will be driven indoors for a few months.  Why not schedule a nature walk for today?   And then you could plant some bulbs that will delight you when spring comes.  Weave music through your day.   End your tribute to Martin Luther by reading the Bible in your own language before you turn out the lights and fall asleep; say a prayer of thanks for this man who set us on the road to greater literacy.

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