fredag 22 september 2006

Martin Luther

Painting of Martin Luther in Helsingborg church

This reproduction of the original by Cranach hangs in the Maria church in Helsingborg.

Really he has a lot to answer for, though of course he was a mere trigger who unleashed pent-up forces. Nevertheless, he is not an admirable person.

Libraries have been written on the subject, but in brief, the Reformation split the Western church, and Europe with it. First it created a north-south divide, and then led to the creation of the modern nation-state. In England, there followed the collapse of the social welfare network of schools, hospitals and almshouses which had been run by the church, with dispersion of church lands to the new aristocracy, supporters of Henry VIII and Elizabeth. In Europe, it gave us the Thirty Years' War.

Following Luther came further reformers, notoriously Calvin, whose doctrines made room for Capitalism, the Evangelical Right and the present hegemony of the United States.

Luther himself was a notorious anti-semite and helped to sow the seeds of hatred which ultimately led to the Hitler and the Holocaust. We might also do well to remember that the militaristic Prussian kingdom was and could only have been a Lutheran establishment, and it is not too far-fetched to suggest that he was a factor in causing the major twentieth-century wars.

It would certainly be a good thing if his picture was removed from public view in a church, put away in a cupboard or sold to pay for repairs or something useful.

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