We need a Martin Luther

First of all, sorry about not posting for so long. I’ve been ill, and I’m just getting around to pretending to be normal.

Sociologically speaking, the American Dream is a religion – a civil religion, but a religion nonetheless. We have the Bill of Rights taking the spot of the Ten Commandments; we have heaven and hell in the form of wealth and poverty; and our politicians and pundits are our clergy. (Does that make the President the Pope?) Hell, we even have witch hunts of “socialists” as enemies of the religion who are, much like the original witch hunts, entirely innocent of the accusation.

The Right has twisted and usurped this civil religion so that it now resembles Dark Ages Catholicism. The overclass of the wealthiest and most powerful are using it to not only mask their own evils, but to trick the “serfs” into supporting the very people and system that prevents them from achieving their own wealth and independence. They keep the masses ignorant (Fox News & the Right’s scarily efficient propaganda machine spreading their muckraking into the mainstream; tax cuts in favor of more spending on education), which is the key to their success, just like in the Dark Ages.

Also just like the Dark Ages, it’s not about the religion, it’s about power. The religion is just a useful tool.

When Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, it brought the Church’s dirty laundry of corruption out into the open; more importantly, it also had the solutions to fix the corruption. The new invention of the printing press led it to spread like a viral video throughout Europe.

Sure, nowadays, we have people like Arianna Huffington and Michael Moore constantly calling out the Right on its crap, but they are seen as Outsiders at worst, malcontents at best, and are easily demonized by the Machine.

What we need is one of the Right’s clergy, preferably someone already well known in this age of short attention spans, to speak out against the Right and its Machine. That would someone they couldn’t demonize. That would be someone they couldn’t sweep under the rug of a false controversy. (“Ground zero mosque”, anyone?)

Also remember that Martin Luther didn’t just spark his own branch of Christianity; he led the Catholic Church to reform as well.

Comments

Hi, Blue

Sorry to hear of your illness, but very glad to have you back and writing ... especially something so interesting ... which I am happy to front page.

Your post is thought provoking, and ire provoking too. Of all the people who might have risen to the occasion, Billy Graham's son might have been a change agent. Instead he's turned out to be a sniveling little bigot, trashing his father's legacy in the blink of an eye.

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We are not amused.

Martin Luther

A new Martin Luther, huh? No thanks. Below is a sample from one of his many anti-Semitic writings:

"What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], "You are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (...remainder omitted).

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause.

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants."

Bring Martin Luther back from the dead?

Well, Frankenstein was German, too.

While the idea of a zombie Martin Luther is entertaining, it's not even close to what I was getting at. I was talking specifically about someone from within the Right to denounce its current tactics and dealings; someone who could spark reform both for American politics in general and the Right Wing in specific. Someone who would put the power of the religion and over the religion into the hands of the people and out of the hands of an elite few.

maybe not the actual Martin Luther . . .

but someone of similar inclination to provoke change. Better?

He was a pretty nutty guy, you know, but frequently it's only the nut-jobs who have the gall to defy the sensible option of remaining silent in the face of injustice.

Sane people are deemed so in part because they don't rock the boat.

See above, but, in short,

See above, but, in short, yes.

This boat needs more than just rocked

Not only do we need a modern equivalent of Luther, we could stand a few like Paine, Jefferson, and Washington, willing to stake their lives, fortunes, and honor on turning this ship around.

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"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail