Luther memes

Luther memes April 23, 2013

I stumbled upon He Rice Tanned (read it fast), a collection of sometimes humorous Luther memes.  Samples after the jump.  (If you know of others, or other Christian-related, or other good ones of any kind, let us know in the comments.)





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  • tODD

    So what, exactly, qualifies these images as “memes”? According to the Wikipedia page you linked to, a meme is “a concept that spreads from person to person via the Internet”. And according to the site counter at the bottom of “He Rice Tanned”, 27 people had seen that page as of my visiting it. So I’m guessing that this relic is sort of the opposite of a meme.

    And now you’ve given your official blessing to a page that makes explicit comparisons between Lutherans and Nazis. So that should prove fun.

  • Pete

    These are great – I particularly like the “warning labels”. Great for adding to PowerPoint slides in adult Bible class presentations.

    (tODD – it’s up to 51 now.)

  • Nils

    It’s certainly an odd conglomeration of images. To be fair, tODD, the Nazi ones have disclaimers under them. What I think is that the guy who made the site just put every Luther-related image he could find on his site

  • I like the Bangles video. Whoever put that together did a good job of matching words to mouth movements, and to my ear, the singers sound just like the Bangles themselves.

    I do think the word, “meme” gets abused these days.
    The pr0per term for these kind of things is, “fad.”

  • Advocate

    Rather funny, especialy the Che spoof. FYI, there’s a Catholic Memes site that is absolutely hysterical and has led to at least two conversions.

  • Abby
  • kempin04

    There is one Luther “meme” that I find increasingly annoying and disturbing, namely the use and misquotation of luther as a sort of patron saint for beer. How many lutheran groups and lutheran pastors have ordered beer mugs with a smiling luther holding a glass of beer on them? How many of these groups then toast the downfall of piety and indulge to excess? Ugh!

    Honestly, people, read Luther! Beer is cited three times in the english edition of table talk, (v. 54), and all three quotations are negative. It was Luther who said, “I wish the brewing of beer had never been invented, for a great deal of grain is consumed to make it and nothing good is brewed.” (AE, v. 54, 172)

    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good beer and the freedom to drink it in moderation without guilt, but please stop using Luther to justify your drinking!

  • Indeed.

    “All things are lawful. But not all things are expedient.”

  • kerner

    Mike @4:

    I like “the Bangles” video too. And this has been one of my guilty pleasures for a long time.

    really guilty 😀

  • helen

    kempin04 @7
    They prefer to quote Luther supposedly saying to Melanchthon that they really didn’t do anything; the Reformation happened while the two of them were in the garden drinking Wittenberg beer. (I don’t know where to find that quote; I’ve heard it often enough.)
    But I agree, Luther was about more than beer and other alcohol. Reading a thread about a group of pastors’ preferences in beer and hard liquor makes you wonder if they are as underpaid as they like to claim, for one thing. [But the ones you know, who really are, seldom appear on those threads.]
    Beer can be as innocent as coffee, or they can both be an obsession that consumes far too much money for value received. I suppose saying so makes me a pietist!

  • helen

    tODD, if someone’s had the poor taste to collect Luther/Nazi references and put them on line,
    I’ll spare that site my patronage, whatever else is on it to “draw a crowd”

  • Abby

    “Martin Luther once remarked that the Reformation took place while he and Philipp Melancthon “drank Wittenberg beer. The Word did it all.”

    Quote is used, but the source was not given:

  • SKPeterson

    Poor Todd.

    Fact: All Lutherans are tacit and implicit Nazi’s. Luther was a blatant anti-Semite who’s own actions and words directly resulted in the Holocaust against God’s Chosen. This has been repeatedly proven on this site by certain commenters. These “memes” are nothing more than a celebration of doctrines of man against the clear teachings of Scripture.

    For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am slinging out the inhabitants of the land at this time, and I will bring distress on them, that they may feel it.” Jer 10:18.

  • Abby

    A practice I never heard of: Baptism by beer? Posted on Lutheran Satire:

  • kempin04


    There are a lot of those “source not given” quotes of luther out there. Like this one:

  • Abby

    Kempin04@15 I guess it is inevitable that these quotes will continue to surface even though possibly invalid. (They must “like” the quote. Even reputable people do this.) Too bad people don’t use legitimately sourced ones and eliminate the confusion!

  • SKPeterson

    I really like this quote from Luther: “All day long I drink beer and praise God. Without beer, I would have been a bigger devil than the Pope himself!”

  • kempin04

    “Beer is the greatest thing since the Beatles.”
    -Martin Luther

  • Abby

    @18 Uh, oh — now you just sent that flying through the internet 🙂

  • Abby

    @18 Uh, oh — now you just sent that flying through the internet 🙂 Next on a t-shirt!

  • SKPeterson

    Martin Luther’s first hymn was Drink! Drink! Drink! which Bach later set to music in one of the most famous Lutheran motets ever done.

  • SKPeterson

    I found it! Here is a great setting of one of Luther’s most favorite and beloved settings of the Divine Service: Music by Bach.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd @ 1 – a meme is not confined to the internet. The word was coined by Richard Dawkins, who recognized that an idea can act and spread like a virus. The concept has had an interesting impact on Information Theory.

  • Nathan

    Kempin04 @ 18 – I’ve heard a very similar quote before, but I’ve never seen it attributed to Luther: “When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let’s all get drunk and go to heaven!”

  • tODD

    Klasie (@23), as originally defined, sure — though in popular usage, the Internet is pretty much the only place where memes live.

    Regardless, my point was that the images on that page still aren’t memes. Even with Veith’s link to it, the page has only gotten 221 lifetime views — it’s safe to say that doesn’t qualify as viral. Nor are they participations in any well-known memes, for the most part.

    They’re just an odd collection of images (most of them poorly Photoshopped collages, though there are also illustrations) loosely connected on the theme of Martin Luther. What’s especially odd is that they don’t strike a clear theme. Some of them are decidedly anti-Lutheran, others seem to use his image for unrelated statements (The University of Iowa, or “Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic”?).

    It’s just a weird old page.

  • kempin04


    See the link at #15

  • I second the #5 comment. is often hilarious. Of course most people here probably know about Lutheran Satire (not memes, but still funny stuff).

  • Joe

    According to the internet Luther said this in a Sermon on Soberness and Moderation, delivered on May 18, 1539:

    “It is possible to tolerate a little elevation, when a man takes a drink or two too much after working hard and when he is feeling low. This must be called a frolic. But to sit day and night, pouring it in and pouring it out again, is piggish… all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one’s pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19-21]… If you are tired and downhearted, take a drink; but this does not mean being a pig and doing nothing but gorging and swilling… You should be moderate and sober; this means that we should not be drunken, though we may be exhilarated.”

    Seems pretty long and detailed to be made up out of whole cloth. Can anyone verify?

  • kempin04


    That quote sounds likely. It is, after all, a sermon on soberness and moderation. Still, it is maddening to have no reference.

  • sg

    “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good beer and the freedom to drink it in moderation without guilt, but please stop using Luther to justify your drinking!”

    Maybe just need to be a little clearer, like a beer mug or cask held by a smiling Katie Luther since she was the one brewing the beer.

  • mikeb

    “Beware of all those Luther quotes you find on the Internet.” — Augustine of Hippo

  • tODD

    Kempin (@29), I found a reference for Joe’s quote (@28), which I had also stumbled across while Googling for [Luther beer] and finding the usual suspects.

    If you go to Google Books and search for a snippet of that quote (in quotation marks), you get two results. The first is “Luther’s works – Volume 51 – Page 293” from CPH — Google appears to cite both Pelikan/Oswald and Oswald/Lehmann. I’m not familiar enough with these volumes to know about all that. Anyhow, there is no preview available, so it’s hard to see any context, much less make sure the result is accurate.

    Google also returns a result from Sacred Space in Early Modern Europe by Coster and Spicer, though, and it cites, after an extensive quote, “‘Sermon on soberness and moderation against gluttony and drunkenness, I Pet. 4:7-11, May 18, 1539’ in J.W. Doberstein (ed.), Luther’s Works, vol. 51: Sermons I (Philadelphia, 1959), pp. 291-9, esp. 292-3.”

    Seemingly different editors and publishers — and, again, I don’t have a personal set with which to check — but, for what it’s worth, both cite Volume 51 of Luther’s Works. Seems pretty legit to me.

    Also, should you wish to pursue other Luther quotes in the future, I highly recommend using Google’s book search tool. The Internet, as you know, is a cesspool of misattributions and misquotes, if not outright fabrications. Plenty of books contain spurious quotes, as well, but they tend to be fewer and more glaring (e.g. a book of “inspirational” quotes, none of which are sourced).

  • I wonder how many beers Luther drank when he began to criticize Katie for never brewing anything good.

  • Abby

    ” Martin Luther once wryly said, “Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?”
    From: “The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of Beer that Changed the World” Stephen Mansfield

  • Abby
  • kempin04

    tODD, #32,

    Thanks. I am increasingly impressed with the power and usefulness of Google’s online offerings, to the extent that I have even purchased a chromebook (the Samsung ARM) and now do my word processing on Google docs. I am still discovering additional things I can do on the cloud of which I was previously unaware. I am almost completely on the cloud now, with very little need for resident software. (Perhaps it’s easier for me because I don’t do that much–mostly text composition with a smattering of spreadsheet and prezi usage.)