Luther and technology

David Gibson of Religious News Service tells about three major exhibitions opening this month on Luther’s Reformation:  at the Morgan Library in New York City; at the Minneapolis Art Institute; and at Emory University in Atlanta. These sound extremely interesting and worth going to.

I was struck by what the Morgan library curator says about Luther’s use of the new information technology of the time (with the assistance of artist and printer Lucas Cranach).  See what he says after the jump.  But read Gibson’s whole article, which includes the point about how Luther became the model for “speaking truth to power.”
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Commemorating or undoing the Reformation?

On Reformation Day, October 31, the Pope will commemorate the Reformation in a common service with Lutherans in Sweden.

Michael Root, in The Christian Century, discusses the event, sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation, and gets into the difficulties it and related events scheduled for the 500th Anniversary of the 95 Theses have been posing for Catholics.  Nothing is said about the difficulties they might pose for Lutherans.

But such unionistic services raise the question:  Is the intention to celebrate (what Protestants are saying), commemorate (what Catholics are saying) or undo the Reformation (what would seem to be the ecumenical agenda)? [Read more…]

The “danger” in Luther’s doctrine of vocation?

A few months ago, Covenant Seminary Professor Dan Doriani wrote a post at Gospel Coalition entitled The Power—and Danger—in Luther’s Concept of Work.  It’s a good piece, and the author has a good understanding of the importance of Luther’s doctrine, including love and service to the neighbor.

But at the end, he moves to what he considers the “Danger” of Luther’s teaching.  Briefly, he says that Luther’s understanding of God’s calling sanctifies the status quo.  If you are in a lowly “dehumanizing” job, if you think of it as a calling from God, then you would never leave it.

It took Calvin, he says, to perfect Luther’s doctrine of vocation.

Read the entire post.  I quote part of it after the jump.  Then I try to answer the criticisms. [Read more…]

A comedy-thriller about the Reformation

You have GOT to read The Relic Master, a novel by Christopher Buckley (son of conservative icon William F. Buckley).  It’s about a dealer in sacred relics (bones of the saints, artifacts from Bible stories, etc.) that, when venerated, were thought to provide time-off from purgatory.  The story takes place in the time of Martin Luther.  The cast of characters is a who’s-who of Reformation history.  Buckley, a noted satirist, has written a novel that is funny, exciting, and true to history.  His scathing portrait of the religious corruption and decadence of the time leaves no doubt that Luther, in his effort to reform the Church and recover authentic Christianity, is the good guy.

Dismas is the relic supplier for both Frederick the Wise of Saxony and Archbishop Albert of Mainz.  Some theses posted on a church door by a friar who teaches in Frederic’s university start to make waves, with Frederic protecting him and Albert trying to burn him at the stake.  Dismas, caught in the middle with his livelihood threatened, sees Luther’s point, but gets caught up in a relic forgery scam, aided by his side-kick, the great artist Albrecht Dürer.  The plot thickens, and their plot thickens, leading to a mad-cap scheme to steal the Shroud of Turin. [Read more…]

How Luther invented mass media

Media historian Andrew Pettegree has written a new book entitled Brand Luther:  How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of  Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation.

He tells about how Luther, along with his collaborator the artist and printer LUCAS CRANACH, used the printing press in such a way that the Reformation went viral.  He shows how the two used visual design to, in effect, “brand” the publications.  Luther became the most published author ever, though, in the words of reviewer Ronald K. Rittgers, “he never made a pfennig from his publications.”

Of Luther’s writing style, Rittgers writes, “Unlike the typical theology books of his day, Luther’s early works were clear, engaging, entertaining, and accessible (he frequently wrote in German). And above all, they were brief.”

This is a book I want to read.  The review is excerpted and linked to after the jump, and I have links to Amazon. [Read more…]

Theology & beer

A trend today is holding Bible studies, outreach ministries, and theological discussions in pubs, with the accompaniment of good beer.  I’ve spoken at some of those.

But talking about faith with what is sometimes called “the Lutheran beverage” is not a new phenomenon.  It goes way back, according to an article in Journal Sentinel from Milwaukee (natch!), and was especially instrumental in the Reformation.  (I would add to the article’s examples the importance of the White Horse Inn in Cambridge, where luminaries of the English Reformation such as Tyndale, Coverdale,  Barnes, and Cranmer, met to discuss the latest writings out of Wittenberg.  That English tavern is where the radio show got its name.)

Favorite takeaway from the article:  Catholic countries drank wine; Reformation countries drank beer.

What do you think about this today?  Should a church sponsor such events, or does it work better on the parachurch level, as informal gatherings, or when the theological discussions over a pint occur naturally among friends?  Or do you think the combination of alcohol and religion is totally inappropriate? [Read more…]