The Scatological Luther
THE SOURCE: “Martin Luther’s Humor” by Eric W. Gritsch, in Word & World, Spring 2012.
“I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away.” The fragrant author of this boast? Martin Luther (1483–1546), who ushered in the Protestant Reformation by railing against the sale of indulgences and other practices of the Catholic Church in his famous Ninety-Five Theses (1519).
One would naturally assume that the German monk was a stern and proper man, but Luther was actually rather earthy. That quality reflected an integral part of his understanding of Christianity, argues Eric W. Gritsch, emeritus professor of church history at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. “The promise of Christ’s imminent return made Luther serene and saved him from being dead serious about his own self,” Gritsch says.
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