Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Totalitarian Regimes 3--Zimbabwe

My cousin at whose house I stayed this summer for several days in Germany is in Zimbabwe for work on a power plant. He sent an e-mail that was something up-lifting.

In Zimbabwe there are goods in the shops now, sold for US dollars and Rand's. Everything costs at least one dollar because that is the smallest bill available. Four onions cost one dollar. Ten tomatoes cost one dollar. One bread costs one dollar. His "gardenboy" earns $200.00 and the foreman at the power plant earns $1200.00. His own salary is paid in US dollars. Things are gradually normalizing.
Good for those poor people. What a mess with that Mugabe.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Song for Sunday

The other day, I posted a YouTube video on Paul Gerhardt. The very last segment deals with a young lady who sings this songs in Jazz version. Martin did not like it. I thought it was not too bad. Anyhow, the song she sings in the video is: "Du meine Seele singe, wohl auf und singe schoen" (Oh, you my soul sing, go and sing beautifully), which I have not heard for a long time. In fact, I searched the LSB and there is neither song nor melody to be found in it. So, find the entire hymn included in the video below.

The verse I am focusing on and translating for you is the last one. The soprano sings it very simply by herself in the video below, while other verses are sung by congregation or ensemble:

"Ach ich bin viel zu wenig, zu ruehmen seinen Ruhm; der Herr allein ist Koenig, ich eine welke Blum. Jedoch weil ich gehoere gen Zion in sein Zelt, ist's billig, dass ich mehre sein Lob vor aller Welt."

"Oh, I am much too small to praise his glory;
the Lord alone is king, I am a wilting flower.
Yet--since I belong to Zion in his tent--
it is right that I contribute to his praises before the entire world."

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Writing down those sad stories has made me feel bad the whole day, so far. Either that or the bookkeeping I'm trying to do, or the combination of the two--all while it's nice out and one should be outside. Better get out for a while. Dinner with friends tonight; beautiful Chinese Christian people. That'll help.

Sidetracked 2

The stories I learned last Sunday were these:

My friend's father was one who had refused to join the Nazi party. The consequence of this was that on the day that war was declared, he was called up to army duty as among the first ones. There were three factors that show that it was not his turn to go yet: his age, his having a family with four small children, his being a farmer. Still, he was sent among the first ones. So now, we also know one thing that could happen to you if you did not join the party.

My friend said, that the entire town/village went to church throughout the era and was not intimidated that way. The pastor was very good and not a Nazi. In fact he was a graduate of the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada seminary,(which is quite a co-incidence, since my friend now resides in Edmonton).

As already mentioned, I had asked her about the knowledge of what was going on with the Jews and she said they had not known, but some things were also withheld from children, like herself. In 1944, some Jews were housed in a large place in town while on route to somewhere. They were in dreadful condition. The farm women came to bring bread, but were turned away by the soldiers. They then proceeded to bring it anyways telling the soldiers to go ahead and shoot them, which they apparently did not do. Someone in their town has written about about these kinds of events in a book, which my friend possesses.

The end of the war was terrible for this town. The French soldiers were delayed in their area because the front was not moving. These soldiers were from all over the world, including Tunisia and so on. The raping, pillaging and murdering was horrendous and lasted for several weeks until they moved on. My friend described this in detail. These are things she remembered herself. The local doctor aborted the babies conceived in this fashion. The doctor was a woman who prayed that God would forgive, but the events had been too horrible. All these things seem to be known around town.

When my friend's father returned from the war he was incensed to hear about this. What kind of army would allow such things, he said. He contrasted this with the German taking of France, which was civilized. I suppose the troops he was with did not do things like that.

One more story from her. Her husband to be, he once was my pastor,later on, of course, never joined the Hitler youth. His father simply said: "You are not going. On Sunday morning you go to church, not to Hitler youth." The Nazi's always tried to supplant the church by staging their own gatherings at the same time.

Totalitarian Regimes 2

This is what happened to you, if you refused to fight Hitler's war. This story is well known because Franz Jaegerstaetter is up for beatification by the Roman Catholic church.

Franz Jägerstätter (in English also spelled Franz Jaegerstaetter) was born in Sankt Radegund, Austria, a small village near Salzburg and Braunau am Inn. He was the illegitimate child of Rosalia Huber and Franz Bachmeier. The child was first brought up by his grandmother, Elisabeth Huber. Franz's natural father was killed in World War I when he was still a child, and when his mother married, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter.

In his youth, Franz had gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. In 1933, he fathered an out of wedlock daughter, Hildegard Auer.[1]

In 1936, he married Franziska Schwaninger, a girl from a nearby village, and they went to Rome on their honeymoon. A Catholic by birth, he experienced a religious awakening - apparently about the time of his marriage – and later served as sexton of his parish church.

When German troops moved into Austria in 1938, Jägerstätter was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss. Although he was not involved with any political organization, and did undergo one brief period of military training, he remained openly anti-Nazi, and publicly declared he would not fight in the war.

After many delays, Jägerstätter was called to active duty in February, 1943. By this time, he had three daughters with his wife, the eldest not quite six. He maintained his position against fighting for the Third Reich, and was imprisoned, first at Linz, then at Berlin. After a military trial, he was sentenced to death and subsequently executed by guillotine on August 9, 1943, aged 36.

Totalitarian Regimes 1

This is what happens to you under oppressive government. You can be put away for "dangerousness" when you complain about having no food.
From my newspaper from yesterday:


Cuba has freed a man who was jailed for denouncing food shortages in a widely viewed YouTube video and sent him instead to a psychiatric hospital for three weeks, a humanitarian rights group said Wednesday.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez Marcos, known as "Panfilo", was sentenced in August to two years in prison for the video, which has been viewed more that 450,000 times since posted on April.

Instead, he has been sent to a psychiatric hospital for three weeks of treatment for alcoholism, after which he is expected to be released... "It's a corrective decision very unusual for a government known for its rigidity," Sanchez said. He said it was likely the result of "international public opinion."
...Gonzalez, was detained, tried a week later in Havana and sentenced to jail for "dangerousness," a crime listed in Cuba's penal code.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Ok, we were going to write more about the Fabricated Luther. We got to what kind of pressure my Grandfather was under and we did not finish his story. There are so many stories to tell.

At a 75th birthday on Sunday, I fished out someone else's WW II stories, which were also interesting. The people who are getting old now are the ones who were children when the war was over. They relate stories of people who were older than they, their parents' or their husband's stories. Soon we won't be able to speak with that generation any more.

What else my grandfather told was that after the war he was dismissed from his service because he had worked in the finance department and therefore had been forced to be a party member. The military government let them all go en mass, and then sent them to a tribunal where they could clear their names if possible. He brought in his witnesses and got a very favorable evaluation, only getting labeled as "Mitlauefer", i.e. not an active promoter of Nazism. Then this process was repeated via a more strict evaluation and his evaluation turned out even better than the less strict process, he was pleased to report. He could prove that he had been faithfully attending church and Bible study and not been an active Nazi. He explains when and where this exactly happened. He must have received his final and favorable judgment in Erbach/Odenwald. Thus he was "de-nazified" by the military government.

During the war, we've already heard, he claimed his rights under "reasons of faith and conscience" to refuse certain types of activities. Among things he refused to do was to report on "Volksgenossen", that is to spy on the rest of the population and file reports. He had to do something for the party, which he chose to do in the "Luftschutz", which has apparently something to do with getting people in an out of air raid shelters. He also chose not to quit the church which most of his colleagues did.

The main repercussions were that he had to keep reporting to the human resources, why did or did not do what he did, which I am sure was nerve wracking for him. But Dr. Wert kept giving him decent evaluations. The most high up personnel chief, "ein strenger Nazi", a very strict Nazi, however, never returned any greetings of his and ignored him altogether.

After the war and his de-nazification evaluation he was given work in Wiesbaden at the Staatshauptkasse.

That's all I have on that. I would have been curious to know if they knew about the "final solution" and if there were any Jews in their area who were taken away. The lady I talked to on Sunday said that they did not know because there were no Jews where they lived (country close to Pfortzheim). Except in 1944 there was a transport through their town where some of the townspeople brought them bread though they were threatened to be shot for doing so.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Motherhood Quotes

These are some quotes I saved on index cards, but I want to throw out the cards. Here are the quotes. Do you like some of them?

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.

There is nothing wrong with teenagers that reasoning with them won't aggravate.

Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I cannot see any other honest way of taking them.
Maria Mannes

If evolution really works how come mothers have only two hands?

I have willed to go forward and have not advanced beyond the borders of my grave.
Saniya Salih, Syrian poet.

I have this wretched willow soul of mine, patiently enduring, plaited or twisted by other hands.
Karin Boye

Children need love, especially when they don't deserve it.
Harold S. Hulbert

It is always one's virtues and not one's vices that precipitate one into disaster.
Rebecca West

Mother has an uncanny way of thinking that if she doesn't tell us about something we will never find out--that she is our only source of knowledge.
Nancy Friday

One learns in life to keep silent and draw one's own confusions.
Cornelia Otis Skinner

Who will cry when you die?
Robin Sharma

Govern a family as you would cook small fish--very gently.
Chinese proverb

If you bend over backwards for your children, you will eventually lose your balance.
John Rosemond

Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow, too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality--especially while you struggle to keep your own.
Marguerite Kelly a. Elia Parsons.

The hardest of all is learning to be a well of affection and not a fountain, to show them that we love them, not when we feel like it, but when they do.
Nan Fairbrother

The parents exist to teach the child, but they also must learn what the child has to teach them; and the child has a very great deal to teach them.
Arnold Bennett

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once and by car forever after.
Peter De Vries

A mother understands what a child does not say.
Jewish proverb

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
Muriel Rukeyser

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Paul Gerhardt video

Watch it. It is very nice and not that long. It also deals with the pressure to abandon the Lutheran Confessions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The "Fuehrer" promises protection of conscience. Transcript and translation of previous post.

That only took a minute. Grandpa Willy speaks nicely and slowly.

"Und ich hab' mir immer diesen Vorhalt gehabt--'aus Glaubens--und Gewissensgruenden' --denn der Fuehrer hat ja immer betont, es soll keiner darunter leiden, dass er 'aus Glaubens--und Gewissensgruenden' nicht die Satzungen der Partei einhalten konnte."

"Da bist du also..." "Langsam...jetzt... Wir mussten das immer unserer Personalbehoerde bei der Oberfinanzdirektion begruenden warum wir nicht in der Hitlerbewegung mitarbeiten."

in English

"... I always used the provision-- 'for reasons of faith and conscience'-- because the Fuehrer always stressed that nobody should suffer because of the fact that he could not keep the statutes of the party due to 'reasons of faith and conscience'".

"Therefore you did..?" "Hang on (slowly)... Now... We always (repeatedly) had to give account to human resources at the Higher Finance Directorship why it was that we were not actively contributing to the Hitler-movement."

Interesting here is the way that he finagled his way through quoting the "Fuehrer" himself. I should translate the rest of this section. There are another 20 sentences in this part of the story.

What really blows my mind, however, how Hitler coaxed co-operation by giving this proviso when everyone was expected/forced to become a member of the party--that "none should suffer consequences because of issues due to faith or conscience".-- Wasn't that nice. We should trust the bastard even though we are being forced to join his party in this one-party state.

At least it helped Grandpa get through it. He had stated at the outset that he was a Christian and intended to remain one. He thus became a member of the party (required in his line of work in the finance department, 1938) but steadfastly refused to help advance the "movement" citing "reasons of faith and conscience", which he had given at the outset. We can see from the rest of the story, (not yet translated) that he suffered some repercussions from this, but nothing overly traumatic. Some became his enemies and some his friends. Maybe the finance department was a good place to be, since there were mostly just numbers to deal with, I would expect.

Whether he should have refused to become a member and lose his job instead, I don't want to analyze here. If he should have gone out and carried placards and had himself killed, or whatever people could have done and what would have happened, I don't know.--I can only imagine the anguish. He did not have the best nerves, was kind and soft(and short and chubby),(the polar opposite of a hard, nasty man), was conscientious(he was a bureaucrat after all), not to mention he did take his faith seriously. He also had four little children. My mother was two years old.

What strikes me here--this is what I am trying to get at--is the propaganda machine of the Nazi's who try to look good via promises of protection of the conscience. How very trustworthy of those pushing you around. There is some deep irony to this.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Aus Glaubens--und Gewissensgruenden"--for reasons of faith and conscience

Reviewing an interview with my grandpa; you can practice translating this by yourself for the moment.

If you've got it you may write it in the comments. This is a test. :) That'll save me 20 minutes tomorrow. His Hessian dialect is not very strong. You can do it. His name was Wilhelm. Born 1899. He lived to be 87, I believe.

I was surprised by this statement. It shows something about how the Nazi's operated.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fabricated Luther/ Fabricated German/ Shirer

More than anything else, Shirer’s most vivid first impressions of the citizens of the New Germany had to do with the unquestioning loyalty with which many of them supported the Nazis as Hitler rebuilt a formerly defeated, chaotic country. Shirer realized that while in the recesses of their minds lived the fear of the Gestapo and of the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp if they resisted the regime, it seemed that the Nazi terror affected the lives of relatively few Germans. After 1918 the Socialists and Communists had enjoyed considerable support, yet within a year of Nazi rule most of their followers happily kept their political sympathies to themselves—even as Hitler broke the once-strong unions and replaced them with a mock Labor Front. At first the nation’s churches heralded the rise of Hitler as the bringer of a restored moral order. By the time the Catholic archbishop of Munich and the Protestant Martin Niemoeller caught on to Nazi plans to replace Christianity with Teutonic paganism, however, it was too late. And, few Germans protested the savage disenfranchisement and killing of Jews.

Shirer concluded that most Germans did not sense that they were being duped or oppressed by a tyrannical leader. Hitler embodied their deepest hopes for regained national pride and prosperity. While they had known political turmoil for a decade and a half under the idealistic Weimarer democrats, under the Nazis they found an unshakeable stability. After fifteen years of recurrent, unbelievable inflation and unemployment, the Germans seemed willing to pay almost any price for a solid Reichsmark and the promise of full employment. Perhaps most importantly, Hitler offered the masses a break from an unwanted past. In exchange for hard work and the loss of personal freedom, the Nazis guided the nation toward a surrealistic dream of German cultural—if not political—dominance over what many saw as a mediocre world. Under Hitler, the German eagle soared once again.


Perhaps--in the beginning many did not catch on. Still--how can he say something like this:

"Shirer realized that while in the recesses of their minds lived the fear of the Gestapo and of the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp if they resisted the regime, it seemed that the Nazi terror affected the lives of relatively few Germans."

Is he joking? Shirer, it seems to me had too privileged a position, attended too many Hitler rallies, mixed too much with the brass, watched too many women swoon (as he describes in other places).

I have always felt that the average North American and even the British have no idea what is was like to live under a totalitarian regime. They have been blessed and they are blissfully ignorant, not speaking the languages of oppressed people. I also think our new atheists have no clue what it is to live under atheist dictatorships. No clue. When I was a child we saw documentaries every week covering human rights abuses behind the iron curtain, dissidents sent to psychiatric hospitals, learned about people getting shot trying to cross the border... In fact, go to any website chronicling persecutions and human rights abuses in different countries. See what can be learned.

The "fear of the Gestapo and the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp" lives in the "recesses" of one's mind? Do you really think that is possible?-- Such fear becomes the dominant thing in one's mind, it does not exist in the recesses.

I spent one weekend in Communist East Germany. The feeling of oppression was continuously with us, beginning with the hassles and machine guns at the border, to making sure the neighbors did not see things or you might get reported, to never-ending bureaucracy of having everything checked and stamped and checked and stamped again. It was nightmarish. It affected our traveling group physically. When we were back across the border, we felt an incredible sense of relief. Oppression and terror do not live in the recesses of your mind.

If someone is going to shoot you or put you in concentration camp are you going to resist them? Let me see that threat live in the "recess" of your mind. Let me see you go forward boldly. Did we see Shirer do something for the all different groups that were getting harassed and hauled off? No, when he learned that the Gestapo was building a case against him, he left the country. Ah. Was there fear only in the recesses of his mind? I don't mean to blame him. But perhaps he could have understood different parts of the population better.

The ethical dilemmas presented to average people were horribly profound. You will not understand them from Hitler rallies. And you will not get a complete picture from living in Berlin.

I can see what Siemon-Netto means by cliche thinking.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fabricated Luther/ William Shirer

Today, I realized why I found Sienmon-Netto's book so hard to read over the summer. It is the same reason I found it hard today to survey John Toland's tome on Hitler. It is all far too upsetting. It put me in a terrible mood for the entire day. The suffering, the totalitarianism, the loss of life, the idiocy of mankind, the evil, the manipulation, the pride, the insanity... It takes a toll, just thinking about it.

Seeing that William Shirer is referenced numerous times in the index and Goerderle never, made me look up all the passages where Shirer is mentioned. He was the American correspondent who was personally present at many pivotal events. He was an eye-witness for certain types of events such as Hitler rallies and things happening at the top. That's all I can glean from this source. I'm sure we could easily find out much more that would be interesting.

Sienmon-Netto writes this that mentions him in chapter one:

But this leas us to questions that must be pondered in a study of the phenomenon of cliche thinking: Does modernity allow for differentiated view? Can a media society function without cliches? Would Shirer's work have been a global success had he written, 'Well, yes, there were Germans who misunderstood Luther and therefore did not resist the Nazis and who became Nazis themselves; and there were other Germans whose internalized Lutheranism guided them in the opposite direction and made them choose the path of resistance and martyrdom'?

Shirer knew many of the latter variety of Germans. He knew Carl Goerdeler, who will be the focus of a long chapter in this volume. Did Shirer not see that it was Goerdeler, rather than Hitler's fellow travelers, who acted in a truly Lutheran fashion? Or was Shirer insufficiently informed about Luther and about Hitler? Or did he not want to know? Like Shirer, I am a veteran foreign correspondent familiar with the pressures and constraints of our trade, and that makes it impossible for me to slam him. Too great is the temptation to reach into your stock of cliches if your job compels you to explain strange societies to readers and listeners who are unfamiliar with such subjects.

It reminds us of the soundbites we get for our newscasts on television, these days--unless it has to do with an accident or a starlet; THEN we get incredible detail. The more inane the story the more we learn about it. Sickening.

Anyhow, Siemon-Nettos explanation of the work of the journalist makes sense to some degree.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fabricated Luther, first paragraph

"More than six decades ago, scores of Germans were rounded up and tortured to death, hanged, guillotined, or executed by firing squads for their attempt to overthrow the National Socialist tyranny. Almost all of them were Christians; some were Roman Catholic, and some were Lutheran. The most famous among the latter group were Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian, and Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, the former mayor of Leipzig. Goerdeler would have become Germany's chancellor had the July 20, 1944, coup attempt against Adolf Hitler succeeded."

Why is it I have never, ever, heard of Carl Goerdeler before reading the "Fabricated Luther"? Oh, yes, I just heard about him also in the movie "Valkyrie" with Tom Cruise. My visitor from Vancouver had us watch the movie the other night. Wow, never heard of Goerdeler before and now twice in one summer. Actually, the point did not really hit me til watching "Valkyrie".

I checked my Adolf Hitler tome (by John Toland; see picture)--no Goerdeler in the index, at all. My husband, who knows more about this kind of thing, has never heard of Goerdeler. Again--my husband, who knows more about this kind of thing, did not think the uprising was as big as the movie depicted. HOW could it not have been? Certainly, the movie-makers could not have made it up. Why does it seem strange to us even now after all this time?

Why does this matter? It matters because Siemon-Netto's line of reasoning in the book tries to show that the German resistance has been minimized both in the kind of support it received and the kind of recognition it received. It's story has been buried. In fact, Siemon-Netto shows how the German resistance and its information and informants were completely and tragically dismissed in London and other places. He also shows how the story received no play after the war. This matters because if there actually was resistance and by what kind of people the myth of the Lutheran quietism is debunked.

Why does any of it matter? First of all, the truth always matters. Sienmon-Netto thinks it matters because Luther's stance on the two realms is not only not a problem but the solution to many problems plaguing nations. The doctrine on the two realms matters. To me it matters, because Luther must be evaluated as fairly as possible because he taught us the Gospel, and it matters and therefore he matters. No one should take unnecessary offense at reformation teachings.

Reformation and Apologetics

I'm looking for "On Temporal Authority: To which Extent it ought to be Obeyed" -- online. I found a blog that does a very interesting job both listing Luther's works and being engaged in reformation apologetic.


Update: James Swan kindly sent the link to the entire document. It is here. Thank you very much!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fabricated Luther/ from on temporal authority: "Use your head"

Was reading in the Lull Anthology of Martin Luther's Theological Writings. p. 655 and following.
"Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed"

I think that's the document everyone is referring to. Or is there another?

Why does Luther always make so much sense? Read the entire thing here. The ending of the treatise was brilliant. Basically is is a call to use your brain and follow natural law and love when the circumstances require it. He relates a memorable story to illustrate his point.

"A good and just decision must not and cannot be pronounced out of books, but must come from a free mind, as though there were no books. Such a free decision is given, however, by love and by natural law, with which all reason is filled; out of the books come extravagant and untenable judgments. Let me give you an example of this.

This story if told of Duke Charles of Burgundy. A certain nobleman took an enemy prisoner. The prisoner's wife came to ransom her husband. The nobleman promised to give back the husband on condition that she would lie with him. The woman was virtuous, yet wished to set her husband free; so she goes and asks her husband whether she should do this thing in order to set him free. The husband wished to be set free and to save his life, so he gives his wife permission. After the nobleman had lain with the wife, he had the husband beheaded the next day and give him to her as a corpse. She laid the whole case before Duke Charles. He summoned the nobleman and commanded him to marry the woman. When the wedding day was over he had the nobleman beheaded, gave the woman possession of his property, and restored her to honor. Thus he punished the crime in a princely way.

Observe: No pope, no jurist, no lawbook could have given him such a decision. It sprang from untrammeled reason, above the law in all the books, and is so excellent that everyone must approve of it and find the justice of it written in his own heart. St. Augustine relates a similar story... Therefore, we should keep written laws subject to reason, from which they originally welled forth as from the spring of justice. We should not make the spring dependent on its rivulets, or make reason a captive of letters."

Mark your calenders: Dr. Robert Weise, Dr. John Patrick coming to Concordia College

Feel free to copy and post anywhere. Thanks.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fabricated Luther: Troeltsch

This seems to be the kind of thing Ernst Troeltsch wrote about Lutheranism:

“Thus the conception of a State Church still remains the centre of the social doctrines of Lutheranism” (Ibid., 516). Lutheranism manifests a passive tendency that predisposes it to support whatever power happens to be dominant and makes it vulnerable to being controlled by the governments to which it is connected, even if they are characterized by brutality and tyranny. Troeltsch views these tendencies within Lutheranism as contrary to the progressive spirit he associates with Protestant countries in the modern era.

The impact of such analysis and stereotyping is what Siemon-Netto is trying to examine.

My own reaction to this is:

Certainly, we who were reared after the wars were encouraged to engage in critique. "Critical thinking" was supposedly the highest goal of education, one of our teachers used to say. To this day, Germans are known to be brutally honest, critical and forward in their speech. This can be very annoying, but also highly constructive leading to correction and innovation.

I don't think that this just happened just as of late.

Secondly, I would not describe the State Churches as particularly "Lutheran", in that I never heard anybody discuss documents from the reformation or any of Luther's books.

I was confirmed in the State Church myself, and I certainly did not learn anything about Luther or the reformation, then and there. We in the ev.luth. State Church knew ourselves mostly in opposition to Roman Catholics. We knew what we did not believe and do better than any teachings of Martin Luther, I'd say. I did not get to know Martin Luther, until I bought my own first book authored by him at the secular University of Alberta. I think, actual words and teachings of Luther are almost a bit of a State Secret.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Fabricated Luther

It took me most of the summer. For some reason, I found this book difficult (but worthwhile) reading. (Not nearly as entertaining as Luther himself. :) ) Uwe Siemon-Netto's book "The Fabricated Luther, Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths." still needs digesting. Many of the men he speaks about are not really familiar to me. For example, Ernst Toeltsch, "a liberal German theologian considered a tragic figure by many of his colleagues" had much influence that was not helpful. Such things, I've never read about. So this is just a start.

I am not really a WW II buff, though I've read a big tome on Adolf Hitler and another on Bonhoeffer's life. Of course, having grown up in Germany I have personally often been exposed to the numerous recollections of civilians, such as my parents, grandparents, my husbands family... Refugees, displaced people, German Mennonites from behind the Ural (my father's brother-in-law). Having grown up in Germany, I also still remember some of the damage to buildings, that could be seen during the sixties.

One of the reasons I picked up this book was that during some exchanges on blogs with Reformed Jews, Luther was practically charged with causing the Holocaust and this was pretty well all that was "known" about him. (Also, Bror said it was a good book.) So it arrived from CPH.

The Foreword is by Peter Berger. A number of themes are woven together in the book. Siemon-Netto tries to debunk what he calls "cliche" thinking related to Germany, World War II, Luther's understanding of the distinction between the two realms, and the German resistance under both National Socialist and Communist totalitarianism. He finishes by applying the correct understanding of Luther to current situations.

One other observer of the same time needs correcting. This is part of the effort of the book: William L. Shirer, the author of "The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich", has wielded too much influence, dealing in cliches. (Shirer I had come across when researching a little bit about what was said about Luther in relationship to anti-semitism. So there a bell was rung.)

I'd like to go through the book again and comment on it here. Hopefully, I can do it. There are a ton of details that need to be examined when debunking "cliche thinking". If you are really interested, you would definitely be better off getting your own book.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

NPP, New Perspective on Paul, NT Wright

I've left some comments on Cyberbretheren on the subject of NT Wright and justification. I think it's an important subject. Just have a quick look, if you have time. Thanks. Feedback would be good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


What Luther says, p. 464.

1368 Man His Own Worst Enemy

I have often said that a man has no enemy deadlier than he himself; for my experience has taught me that I have greater cause for fear within me than I have outside me, because the gifts which we have within us tend to inflate our nature.

As God, who is by nature very kind, cannot but graciously shower down upon us various gifts, such as a healthy and sound body, riches, wisdom, skill, knowledge of Scripture, etc., so we cannot but become proud of these gifts and arrogant. Our life is wretched without such gifts of God, but it is doubly wretched when we have them. For we are made doubly worse by them. So great is the corruption of original sin, although all men except believers are either unaware of its existence or consider it a trivial matter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2/3 year

This little thing says: "Memories are precious. Let us not be robbed of what God has already given us." I saved this picture from somebody's kitchen window flip-over thing, because I thought it might inspire me to get all my memories sorted out, put together a book or something.

I can't say I'm there. I have not been through my pictures, except for saving the most recent ones from the computer. I have not been through the family videos. I have not been through my scrapbooks.

If I'm going to dig around in the memories, I will cry and then I will have a headache and then I will need an Advil and have to go lie down and the day is shot and I might get a cold. So, I don't go looking for it. There is enough that intrudes itself.

What hits me the most these days are the flannel padded work shirts at Costco, when I'm there. I always touch them.

It is easier and it is not easier. People ask this: "Is it easier?" Yes, you don't have to think about it and talk about it all the time anymore, but your child is still gone and will be gone. How can that get easier?

Recently, somebody stopped Martin and me on the street--a complete stranger--to ask us how it is that we have been "coping so well", while her family is falling apart. Apparently, our "good coping" is legendary. We have to give the credit to God's word and the rest to the kind people. When you trust, you can have joy. And there has been plenty of joy with the grief. It is like your soul develops a larger capacity for both.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crictical method, a quote of Frank Lentriccia

I got an article online and printed it out, lost the link, when searching for "hermeneutics of trust and suspicion". The title of the paper was: "Salvation by Trust? Reading the Bible faithfully."

It contains a quote from Frank Lentriccia, "who teaches English at Duke University, who published a remarkable public recantation of his prior complicity with an approach to literary criticism that concentrates on theory and ignores literature."

This speaks more to criticism of English literature, yet the point made about attitude can go much further.

Over the last ten years, I've pretty much stopped reading literary criticism, because most of it isn't literary. But criticism it is of a sort--the sort that stems from the sense that one is morally superior to the writers that one is supposedly describing. This posture is assumed when those writers represent the major islands of Western literary tradition, the central cultural engine--so it goes--of racism, poverty, sexism, homophobia, and imperialism: a cesspool that literary critics would expose for mankind's benefit.... It is impossible, this much is clear, to exaggerate the heroic self-inflation of academic literary criticism... The fundamental, if only implied, message of much literary criticism is self-righteous, and it takes this form: "T.S. Eliot is a homophobe and I am not. Therefore, I am a better person than Eliot. Imitate me, not Eliot." To which the proper response is: "But T.S. Eliot could really write, and you can't. Tell us truly, is there no filth in your soul?"

Rest of "Steht auf ihr lieben Kinderlein."

vs. 7, 8 and 9,

I read, too, that Erasmus Alber was a student of Luther.

O Jesu Christ, wir warten dein, dein heiligs Wort leucht' uns so fein. Am End der Welt bleib nicht lang aus und fuehr uns in deins Vaters Haus.

Du bist die liebe Sonne klar, wer an dich glaubt, der ist fuerwahr ein Kind der ewgen Seligkeit, die deinen Christen ist bereit'.

Wir danken dir, wir loben dich, hier zeitlich und dort ewiglich fuer deine gross Barmherzigkeit von nun an bis in Ewigkeit.

which is:

Oh, Jesus Christ, we are waiting for you, your holy word may shine for us so brightly. At the end of time, don't tarry long and lead us into your Father's house.

You are the dear sun so bright. Whoever believes in you is for sure a child of eternal blessedness, which has been prepared for your Christians.

We thank you, we praise you, here in time and there in eternity for your great mercy from now on and into all eternity.