The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant can’t believe 500 years have passed since the start of the Protestant Reformation. Seems like just yesterday Martin pounded out those theses and left them on the Wittenberg door. Where does the time go?

Luther, whose family name was actually Luder, decided to change his brand when he realized Luder also stood for “loose woman” in German. You just can’t clean up the Holy Catholic Church with altar boys snickering behind your back. And Luther would brook no snickering. He may have believed in justification through faith, but Martin practiced disputation through hate. No one held a grudge like Luther. If it hadn’t been for his love of beer, brewed by his ex-nun wife, he would have died of spite. He also traveled incognito under the name Junker Jorg to avoid capture by the Pope. The man had more handles than a rap star.1

The Popes (Julius II and then Leo X) had a tourist attraction to finish building (St. Peter’s) and not enough money to do it. Some earlier killjoy Pope had equated charging interest right up there with murdering your mom, so a loan was out of the question, although rumor has it the Rome branch of Wells Fargo still managed to open several bogus accounts in their names. They couldn’t even get a payday loan against the pink slip for the Sistine Chapel.

The solution involved selling Get out of Purgatory Free Cards, called indulgences, to the faithful, who were informed on a regular basis their unworthy souls would be spending several hundred years therein getting a spiritual power washing until they were ready for heaven. We won’t bore you with complicated theology, theology that used to get our Baptist heart racing faster than making out in the back of our Monte Carlo, which is why The Rant rarely got to make out in the back of our Monte Carlo.

Luther got his chasuble all in a bunch over the selling of salvation, and the rest is 500 years of yelling and killing and excommunicating and weeping and punching your neighbor in the head for Jesus. Which had just been preceded by around 500 years of the same, except for a few golden years right after the first Easter when all the disciples lived like stinkin’ commies. Thank goodness that didn’t last.

People often think Luther stood for some enlightened pursuit of your own path to God. He knew the Truth; you could tow the line or literally go to hell. He never sought tolerance, but his own, correct version of intolerance. People could still be burned at the stake, but for all the right reasons.

People clamoring today for their precious freedom of religion are really demanding the right to impose their religion on you. Their head would explode if you suggested basic services be denied them because they weren’t Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist. Perhaps those 500 years have appeared to pass so quickly because nothing’s really changed.

  1. Luther also tried out a Latin version of his name, Eleutherius, but the kids just couldn’t dance to it

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