luther: indulgence of the spiritual investment

Martin Luther and Leo X were certainly a study of contrasts. And to think that the reformation was catalyzed by a grubby dispute over taxes to build St. Peters and a rather dubious scheme on the part of Church and its collaborators on the stretching of canon law on the marketing and monetizing of indulgences: remissions granted by the church of the temporal penalties of sin. This dangerously commercialized practice to get St. Peter to open the gate on a VIP basis were regarded as a form of spiritual investment by the purchaser and a practical source of revenue by the Church. But it all came to head on October 31, 1517, All Saints Day when Martin Luther  nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the  Church door in Wittenberg…

---A Hungarian Catholic priest has become an internet sensation for spreading the word of God - from his skateboard. A video of Reverend Zoltan Lendavi showcasing his skateboarding skills has become a YouTube hit, with some versions having more than 170,000 views. The video, Funny Priest Skateboarding, shows 45-year-old Lendavi, in full clerical dress, showcasing his moves for youngsters outside his church in Gaborjanhaza, a small village on Hungary's border with Slovenia. Read more:

Luther was no child of the Renaissance. He had visited Rome only three years before Leo became Pope and had found the Eternal City disgusting. Luther’s father, an unpretentious mine owner one generation removed from the soil, had just hauled himself and his eight children into the petty bourgeoise. Martin Luther dashed his father’s hope of him becoming a lawyer by joining the Augustinian friars. This monastic life almost destroyed him in his struggle to make peace with god. As leo was taking up his pontifical burdens and pleasures, Luther, appointed to the faculty at Wittenberg began to move slowly out of the darkness of despair into the light of new hope.

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Man, Luther discovered, is saved by his faith alone; he need not struggle to be worthy of god’s forgiveness, for he can never deserve salvation; he cannot earn paradise or make a deal to attain it. Instead, God, through Christ’s atonement, extends his mercies to all men irrespective of merit.

If Leo was what William James called the “healthy minded man” , Luther was the perfect image of William James’s “sick soul” calling out for aid in his terror and finding it in a direct and intensely personal relationship  between god and man that had nothing to do with indulgences, tithes, church’s built of stone, or the entire edifice of the church militant. The formula- justification by faith alone- was innocent enough, but in the hands of a generation already dismayed by a church in which it was impossible to isolate the corruption, the phrase became the prescription  for sweeping away all the frustrations of the past and calling in the golden age of the Apostles.

---Lucas Cranach the Elder, the great painter of the Reformation period. More popular and economically more successful than his contemporary Albrecht Dürer, it was Lucas Cranach who presumably exerted the longest-lasting influence on the world of German imagery. His early landscape depictions were trailblazing, he inspired old religious themes with completely new life, as well as inventing entirely new pictorial types for the reformed faith. His portraits of Martin Luther, Frederick the Wise, Philipp Melanchthon and others have shaped our conception of these personages to this very day.--- Read More:

The situation is somewhat akin to the university demonstrations of the counter-culture. The university president is is skilled at handling his trustees and spends his days raising money for various needs and is responsible for running a complex organization whose existence depends on a tactful balancing of the principle of freedom of thought with the needs and wishes of society as a whole, and the activist or nihiistic students who dismisses the entire structure as an obsolete social system and demands the total rejuvenation of all aspects of life.

The language of protest is different, but the gulf that divides the idealist form the realist remains similar. Its simply a definition of reality from different perspectives. In the case of Leo and Luther, each man sought the welfare of the church according to his own principles, and together they succeeded in bringing a thousand year old institution crashing down.

---Likewise, Lucas Cranach's St. Barbara in Half-Length (est. $1.5 million-$2.5 million) is exactly what you want in a religious painting by this artist -- a pretty, smiling blonde attractively dressed, shown before a luxuriant Danube landscape spotted with pine trees, free of messy martyrdoms and obnoxious cherub heads. It might as well be a portrait of a saucy beauty of the Saxon court, posing with St. Barbara's chalice the way bankers' wives grasp Dianas' bow and arrows in the Rococo confections of painter Jean-Marc Nattier. Despite some condition problems (the panel was split down the middle and needs to be re-restored to mend the crack), the overall appeal of Cranach's masterpiece pushed its price to $4,944,000. The buyer was an unidentified Europ

collector bidding via the phone.--- Read More:

81. Such impudent sermons concerning indulgences make it difficult even for learned men to protect the Pope’s honor and dignity against the calumnies, or at all events against the searching questions, of the laymen.

82. As for instance: – Why does not the Pope deliver all souls at the same time out of Purgatory for the sake of most holy love and on account of the bitterest distress of those souls – this being the most imperative of all motives, – while he saves an infinite number of souls for the sake of that most miserable thing money, to be spent on St. Peter’s Minster: – this being the very slightest of motives? Read More:

Respect stood at the core of ecclesiastical discipline and obedience, and once respect was destroyed, the whole impressive structure, of which the pope was the apex, collapsed. If, as Luther was suggesting, indulgences were unnecessary, then what about the usefulness of all good works; if good works were questioned, then what about the doctrine of man’s free-will and his ability to choose or reject god; if the pope could not call upon the church’s reservoir of grace to remit the penalties of sin in purgatory, then what were the pope’s powers if any? Dis purgatory really exist? So, the questions and doubts spread steadily outward, first to challenge obedience to Rome and finally to engulf the entire codex of Catholic theology.

---The engraving was created in 1513 according to the tablet in the lower left corner of the engraving. Durer's 'tablets' always look suspiciously, since they are always bearing a hint to the content initially concealed by the artist. The date on the tablet is precisely 200 years after the official dissolution of the Templars in the tragic year 1313. Before the number 1513 on the tablet stands a mysterious 'S' whose meaning is obscure. But the secret is hidden in a Greek equivalent of Latin letter S, which is Σ, a Greek Sigma with the gematrical value 200. This number alludes to the 200th anniversary of Templar's official end. The main protagonists in the destruction of the Templars were French king Philip IV, also known as Philip le Bel (surely an expression of his vanity not mercifulness), and pope Clement V, the first in the line of 'Avignon popes', vassals under French royal influence. The goal was political and religious, since Templars represented an important political force mostly because of vast financial resources at disposal and land ownership. Practically, they functioned as a system within a system, which is obviously irritating from the ruling position. Religiously they posed a threat to official dogma, since the nature of their endeavors enabled them to gain a contact with various sources of knowledge, and their belief is closer to a gnostic perception of Christianity than official dogma sustained by some questionable popes ... Three main characters of the engraving metaphorically represent the three players in the historic drama: Templars are represented by the Knight, the king Philip Le Bel is disguised as Death wearing a regal crown, and Pope Clement V is concealed in the shape of Devil.--- Read More:

Very possibly nothing could have stopped the spread. The rot in the old church had gone too far, hatred of Rome in the minds of the laity was too intense, the financial and political interests of the German princes were to strong, the spiritual anguish of Christians had been ignored too long in favor of extracting florins, and the generation gap was too great. And, Leo’s handling of the crisis did not help. History was to prove Luther triumphant. The worm at the core of the old church had indeed gone too deep for the edifice to be repaired without major demolition and rebuilding. Leo’s only remedy had been to apply fresh paint and cover the cracks in what was essentially, a political facade.

…Leo died mysteriously and suddenly at midnight on December 1, 1521, aged forty-six, ostensibly from malaria.

Christ as the Man of Sorrows I Albrecht Durer Read More:


The authors of the Rosicrucian works generally favoured Lutheranism as opposed to Catholicism. However, the relationship between Lutheranism and the Rosicrucians is ambiguous. Some suggestions have been made of a possible connection due to several reasons: the Rosicrucian documents denounce the hypocrisy in the Catholic Church of those times; the symbol of Martin Luther is a cross inside an open rose; and, from May 1521 until March 1522, Luther stayed at the Wartburg Castle situated to the southwest in the Thuringian forest. This same forest, and a castle, is associated in local oral tradition, later published by Maurice Magre (see above), as being the birth place, in the 13th century, of Christian Rosenkreuz. Read More:

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