I imagine Catholics and Protestants can agree that Martin Luther was an enormously consequential figure, as many of their contemporary theological thinkers and writers have expounded on. Even secular publications took note this October 31—the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation—of the monumental impact of Luther’s declarations.
There’s one thread in this vigorous and robust discussion of what Luther had actually intended in his theses and what being Lutheran might mean now that I find quite compelling, and has shaped a great deal of my thinking on the Reformation. In one of my all-time favorite articles from First Things—an interreligious, nonpartisan research and educational organization whose pages have been graced with some of the modern era’s most profound Christian thinkers—Gilbert Meilaender, a Lutheran, writes the following:
Fun fact: I have never been trick-or-treating on Halloween. In elementary school, I never went to class on that day either, because all that happened was a Halloween party. My family would usually go out for Chinese food and a movie instead. Halloween was an objectionable “holiday” to us as Christians with its celebration of the grotesque and macabre and pagan. It was never just about free candy or a party, and to this day I find Halloween eerie and chilling.
October 31 is particularly significant this year, though. It will mark exactly 500 years since Martin Luther allegedly hammered 95 theses onto the wall of the Wittenburg Church in Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation, a religious firestorm whose heat we can still feel today. Some Christians find this event a cause for celebration, while others lament it.
There is nothing unique or novel that I can say about the Las Vegas shootings. I can only be one more voice mourning the loss of so many lives in so senseless of a tragedy.
My beloved home state of Colorado has seen far too many similar events. From Columbine and Arapahoe High Schools to an Aurora theater, our state feels even more deeply the pain inflicted across the nation by mass shootings. This violence has exacted a high toll on many members of the Colorado community, and while buildings can be reopened and memorials built, long-term emotional pain is not always as obvious nor easily confronted.
If you were also off the grid two weekends ago, lugging a cumbersome rucksack through the Cape Cod woods or tripping through the densest foliage known to man, searching for a tiny metal pole that looked just like the rest of the woods, you may have missed some key events.
On Sept. 22, MIT Army ROTC trucked down south for field training at Joint Base Cape Cod in the middle of a tropical storm. President Trump also unleashed a tropical Twitter storm condemning the NFL players who elected not to stand for the national anthem.
Admittedly, this last iteration of The Underground started off much more political than it should have. I was intent on scolding academics and coastal elites for their clinical and condescending response to the November election, and not-so-gently mocking those intrepid social scientists and “experts” as self-righteous safari types who in the interest of “breaching the divide,” decide to venture into “middle America”—which, lo and behold, is also home to many liberals—to see how these strange creatures called conservatives live.
“Look! A wild conservative in their natural habitat! Let’s get closer and see what they’re up to. It’s been said that these creatures exhibit primitive behaviors like a love for firearms and Chick-fil-A…”