Thomas More vs. the Reformation

Now that Hilary Mantel’s superb novels about Thomas Cromwell have been made into a TV series, Wolf Hall, her points about the good guys and bad guys in Tudor England are attracting attention and controversy.  Conventionally, Cromwell has been considered a Machiavellian villain who helped Henry VIII  break from the Church of Rome because of his romance with Anne Boleyn, only to later frame her for unfaithfulness.  His foil was Thomas More–later, St. Thomas More–the humanist scholar who refused to go along with these schemes at the cost of his life.

But Mantel portrays Cromwell as a decent man, carefully navigating the whims of an unstable king, while deftly advancing the cause of reform and Reformation in a corrupt society and a corrupt church.  More, on the other hand, as Mantel tells it, is a reactionary bigot, who sought to stamp out the Reformation by burning the “heretics” at the stake (which would include William Tyndale, for translating the Bible into English).

Now many Catholics are outraged at this treatment of their Renaissance saint, who has lately been held up as the model of the Christian intellectual who puts the laws of God over the laws of the state.  Mark Movesian goes so far as to say that Wolf Hall is part of the attack on religious liberty.  The depiction of More, he says, is an example of today’s mindset that the demands of the state should trump the teachings  of the church.  But, of course, it finally comes down to whether you support the beliefs of More or his victims.

Anthony Sacramone has given a quite brilliant Lutheran reply to all of this.  He includes what More said about Luther (who also opposed Henry VIII and his shenanigans), More’s defense of heretic burning, and what Purgatory meant to the people of the time. [Read more...]

Maundy Thursday and the search for the real Jesus

Anthony Sacramone discusses all of the magazine cover stories about “the search for the real Jesus” that get published during Lent, generally concluding that we can’t really know much about Him, the assumption being that the Gospels aren’t reliable.  Well, Mr. Sacramone gives a very Lutheran answer to those in search of a tangible Jesus, proposing a billboard campaign, as you can see after the jump. [Read more...]

The 12 Funniest Books Ever Written?

In the spirit of Fat Tuesday, in which we go through our cupboards to use up any treats and frivolities before the solemnities of Lent, I would like to draw your attention to  Anthony Sacramone’s list of  The 12 Funniest Books Ever Written.  You need to go to the link to read his paragraphs about each work on his list, but I will list the titles after the jump, along with my own additions and corrections. [Read more...]

When Christianity comes across as dull

The redoubtable Anthony Sacramone tells about how he was influenced–indeed, evangelized–by  C. S. Lewis.

Mr. Sacramone had gone through through a Lutheran parochial school, learned the Catechism, was confirmed.  But, like many young people, he left all of that behind as soon as he could.  Christianity, he says, “seemed so small, constricting, even petty.”  He became an atheist, but in the course of researching a story idea, he stumbled upon Lewis, who “made Christianity bigger than anything I could imagine.”  Later, he came back to Lutheranism.

Read about this after the jump, and then I want to pose some questions.   Christianity has mind-blowing teachings–the infinite God becoming a man, then taking the evil of the world into Himself and resolving it by dying and rising again and offering free forgiveness and everlasting life–so how in the world is it possible to make them seem dull?   I mean, I can see why someone might not believe it, but how can Christianity be so poorly presented that it  seems “small, constricting, even petty”?  And yet somehow that’s the way it comes across to many people, especially young people brought up in the church.  This is surely a communication fail of the highest magnitude.  [Read more...]

Sacramone’s free magazine for college students

Whatever happened to Anthony Sacramone, you may ask?  He of the blog Strange Herring.  Formerly of the blog Luther at the Movies.  The satirical Lutheran who blogs with manic intensity until he seemingly burns himself out and stops blogging for months, until he starts again with a slightly new identity.  Well, I have learned that he has become the Managing Editor of  Intercollegiate Review | A Publication of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. [Read more...]

What is a Lutheran?

Anthony Sacramone tells about his own spiritual history, his current frustrations in trying to find a Lutheran congregation, and various theological difficulties.  He closes by asking “what is a Lutheran?” and asks for help in sorting through all of this.

The man is a great humorist, but this is a plaintive post.  His experiences are important for us Missouri Synod types to face up to, how in our doctrinal purity we sometimes scare people off and drive them away even when they desperately want and are open to precisely what we can give them–Christ, the Gospel, the Sacraments. And can anyone help him with his search for a congregation that would put up with him and vice versa?  (I do know that Lutheran identity is, in practice, more flexible than it is sometimes presented and that congregations vary a lot, in some positive as well as negative ways.  He lives in New York City, a small town when it comes to the number of Missouri Synod Lutherans.  But perhaps some of you could give him suggestions.)

If I send you over to his blog Strange Herring, will you help him and not attack him?

If so, here is the link:  Nadia Bolz-Weber and Lutheran Identity « Strange Herring.


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