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…]

Problems praying? Pray the Psalms

Continuing our reflections on the Psalms, Pastor Peters at Pastoral Meanderings has a great post on praying the Psalms.  He shows the centrality of the Psalms for Luther and then makes a superb application:  “If you are having problems praying and know that you should be praying more, try the pattern of reading a Psalm each day, reflecting upon its words, and then praying that Psalm as your daily prayer.”   [Read more…]

Happiness vs. Freedom?

In a description of his new book, The Intolerable God, author Christopher J. Insole tells about a central struggle in the philosopher Immanuel Kant:  the conflict between happiness and freedom.

Now this sounds strange to American ears.  Surely, freedom is essential to happiness.  But Kant relates the issue to God.  Here is how Insole describes Kant’s dilemma:

We need God if we are to hope for happiness, as Kant thinks we must. We also need freedom, in a strong sense, in order to be moral. God must withdraw for this freedom to be possible. But if God withdraws, happiness can no longer be attained.

Read about this after the jump.  How would you resolve this dilemma?  I offer some thoughts myself. [Read more…]

“Then we become His gods”

More mind-bending insights from Luther, this time on why so many people reject God’s gifts and His grace, insisting instead that they themselves merit their salvation.  “Then we are the workmen who lay the cornerstone on which God then builds His grace and love, so that He must praise, thank, and adore us. Then we become His gods instead of the other way around.” [Read more…]

God the Giver

I came across one of those stunning and paradigm-shifting quotations from Luther, this one about how God–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–is always giving.  Above all, God, in all of His persons, is always giving Himself. [Read more…]

Luther and Religious freedom

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent account by Joe Loconte on Luther, the Reformation, and its precursors.  He ends up crediting Luther, who insisted that faith is not something that can be coerced, for the Western concept of religious freedom.  He then wonders if Islam can ever have such a reform.  Read it all, but I’ll quote some of his final paragraphs after the jump. [Read more…]


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