Walk along with Century contributor Sarah Hinlicky Wilson and her husband Andrew
Lars Wilson as they retrace the journey Martin Luther made from Erfut, Germany,
to Rome in 1510—500 years ago this year.
In a recent lecture on the exercise of political power, David R. Young claimed that although much attention is paid “to the physical and intellectual dimensions” of the exercise of political power, little or none is paid today to “the emotional, nonrational or spiritual dimension.” And yet, argued Young, “it is the spiritual character of the individual human being as a whole . . .
Catechism class will now come to order. Either because of bad teaching in the preceding generation or because one kid did not pay attention, a crucial misstatement of doctrine has been repeated in the press.
The rise of the Internet’s World Wide Web in the mid-1990s launched an unlikely hero into the media spotlight: Johann Gutenberg, the 15th-century inventor of movable printing type and technological forefather of the vernacular Bible. Reporters, Internet columnists and even some scholars began parading Gutenberg before the public as a kind of poster child for the digital revolution.
A recent New Yorker article on Mary Magdalene, obviously written with an eye on her role as Jesus’ paramour in Dan Brown’s best-selling The Da Vinci Code, began by noting that “Brown is by no means the first to have suggested that Christ had a sex life—Martin Luther said it” (February 13-20).
I have lived with Martin Luther for 76 years, since I was christened with the reformer’s name. My father was a Lutheran teacher and organist. Lutheran chorales have provided the cantus firmus for my life. But in only in the past few years, as I worked on a short biography of Luther, did the reformer become a constant companion.
Having just written a biography of Martin Luther, coming out in January in the Viking Penguin Lives series, I was curious to see how the movie Luther turned out. I liked it very much, though in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that my name does appear among the script consultants.
During the war against Iraq an interviewer asked me where I got some of the theological ideas that called more for repentance by “our side” than triumph over “them” and theirs. I told him that they came from Martin Luther—though my views are milder than Luther’s were.