Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The consequence of ideas

Last night I saw the movie “Luther” for the first time. I was very surprised at how good it was. From what I could tell, the movie was pretty true to history. I’m sure the real Luther buffs will be able to point out where it went wrong, but beyond expecting long quotations from Galatians in his sermons it was what I would expect Luther really was like. In the movie, Luther is portrayed as being afflicted and depressed in mind, by whom he thinks is Satan, constantly. In the grand scheme of things, it would seem arrogant to think that Satan himself was concerned with a single man, but perhaps history can argue differently. Luther’s ideas had far reaching consequences. He brought the Bible to the common people. The idea of absolute truth from God himself is the foundation of liberty without chaos. The majority opinion can rule until it comes into conflict with the absolute truth. This brings us societies with real laws and yet not tyranny. I can see the argument that Satan would personally torment the one whom God had chosen to bring these ideas to light though.

There were two scenes that really showed the good consequences of ideas (there were some that showed the bad too, but I won’t comment on them here). Both scenes involve a mother and her handicapped daughter. Under the previous Catholic priest, she had to hide her daughter because it was unacceptable and shameful in the priest’s eyes. Right before Luther is called to renounce his writings the first time, there is a scene with the young girl trying to walk with crutches right outside the church. Luther tries to encourage her to keep trying to walk. Watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think that the liberating gospel truths Luther preached were having real effect. Life was valued now because it is a gift of God. Life is not valued by how useful a person is to anyone, but simply because it is valued in God. Ideas do have consequences. The second scene was with the same mother, and she is showing Luther the indulgence she has purchased from Tetzel. You can see in her eyes that she believes this money spent “on her daughter” is worth it. Luther quietly tells her it is nothing but a piece of paper and that she should save her money to buy food for her daughter. He then hands her a coin to make up for what she lost. Not only did he point her to the one who actually saves, but he backed it up with real physical goods. Ideals really do have consequences.

“Here I stand. I can do no other!”


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