Friday, November 7, 2008

True Hollywood Story Presents: Martin Luther

That's what this latest story from The Guardian reads like. A bunch of Germans have gotten together and attempted to reconstruct Luther's life from things in his kitchen, his trashcan, and his commode. You read that right. Martin Luther's crapper is now the subject of intense scientific scrutiny.

Beer tankards, grains of corn, cooking pots, even his toilet are among the finds dug up during the five-year project in the three places in Germany he spent his life. The items include his wife's golden wedding band, a collection of 250 silver coins and the medicines used to treat his various ailments from angina to constipation.

It also turns out that some of the stories that have grown up around Luther, or that he constructed himself, might not be true. Shocking, but true.

New evidence has shown that already as a young man, his father owned land and a copper mill and lent money for interest. His mother was born into an upper middle-class family and it is unlikely, as Luther suggested, that she "carried all her wood on her back".

The discovery in his boyhood home in Mansfeld of a skittles set made out of cow bones and glass marbles also suggests the family was relatively well to do.

Of legit interest was the discovery of some evidence as to why Luther joined the Augustinians in the first place.

But the claim by historians which will arguably be most upsetting for followers is the recently uncovered written evidence that it was not, as thought, a lightning bolt which led to the then 21-year-old's spontaneous declaration he wanted to become a monk. Rather, it was his desperation to escape an impending arranged marriage.

Yet even with this, the article still seems to have an unhealthy interest in Luther's bathroom behaviors.

It debunks something of the Luther myth to know he wrote the 95 theses on a stone toilet, which was dug up in 2004.

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