Wednesday, March 15, 2017
MARCH 15 IT'S THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANTISM
Aside form Jesus Christ, only one person has an American holiday bearing his name: Martin Luther King, Jr. It's not just this one day, either. Over 900 streets, 200 buildings, 100 schools and two historical sites are also named after him. While MLK is deservedly enshrined in America's hearts and minds, very few of us know about the man he was named after. Since 2017 is the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther's most famous act, we here at the DUNER BLOG want to use this opportunity to remember the original legend.
The Thunderstorm. Born in Saxony to wealthy parents, Martin Luther was well educated for someone living in the 1400's. He graduated from the University of Erfurt in 1502 specializing in law. However, he shunned his father's firm. Instead, he followed the faith. Why the sudden change? One Autumn evening, a horrible storm struck Eastern Germany. Luther's cottage was struck by lightning. The young man feared for his life. Like many terrified people, he got down on his knees and prayed. "I was besieged by the terror and agony of sudden death," wrote Luther. His pledge: If God let him survive the thunderstorm, he would return the favor by becoming a monk.
95 Theses. One day, whilst seated on the toilet, Luther came up with the idea to make a formal protest on the matter. (Archaeologists in 2004 discovered his bathroom had a heated floor--Maybe he did spend a lot of time there!) Anyhow, on October 31, 1517, Luther gallantly walked up to the Wittenberg Cathedral and proudly nailed his famed 95 Theses on the twenty-feet high wooden doors. Despite the lack of an Internet, Luther's ideas instantly spread over Central Europe. Many were also displeased about the Indulgence Practice and a grass-roots Protest(ant) movement was born.
Renaissance Man. Perhaps saddened by the carnage he released by his 95 Theses, Luther changed course later in life. His first project was an enormous one: Translating the New Testament from Latin to German. Luther felt if average citizens could read the Bible, they could see for themselves there is no mention of indulgences. In doing so, he became the first person to standardize grammar in the fractured German language. Next, he focused on music, writing dozens of hymns. (You've likely sung his version of the Lord's Prayer.) Luther was released from prison and led a quiet remainder of his life. He died in 1546 at age 62.