After the sex began to wane, Luther started to see a lot of things he didn’t like. He thought those who loaned money with a demand for interest were serving the devil. (Not much has changed since 1535.) He hated grain speculators. (Who doesn’t?) Although fond of dancing, he saw the current fashion in dance apparel lewd. As dean of the local university, he asked any students living with prostitutes to leave the school. There were times when he walked out during a service for he could no longer tolerate the congregation’s singing. He also developed a habit of sitting on his front porch and yelling at the neighborhood kids to accept Jesus into their hearts and to get the hell out of his front yard.
With advancing years, Luther was turning into a grumpy old man. And like any old man set in his ways, he didn’t like anybody who was different. Along with his animosity against the pope, Luther did not like the Turks (Muslims). In one quote he stated, “The pope is the spirit of the antichrist and the Turk is the flesh of the antichrist.”
Together, the pope and the Turks formed a non-functioning demon. Some other group was needed to fill the blasphemous brain. Oh yeah, Luther wasn’t a big fan of the Jews. He didn’t like the fact that the Jews didn’t think Jesus was the best thing for salvation since unleavened bread. And if they refused to be converted, he just saw them as evil. Not on the J-Train? Boom! You are with the devil. With this kind of thinking, I wonder how Luther would have acted around other religious leaders:
LUTHER: Hey Shinto Priest, are you on the side of the savior?
SHINTO: Who’s this savior?
SHINTO: What’s he do?
LUTHER: He’s like a spiritual lifeguard who saves people from drowning in hell.
SHINTO: What’s hell?
LUTHER: You’ll find out soon. What about you Buddhist Monk?
BUDDHIST: What about me?
LUTHER: Do you except Jesus as your personal savior?
BUDDHIST: What are you talking about?
LUTHER: Nothing other than you should find a fire-retardant robe.
BUDDHIST: (TO THE SHINTO PRIEST) Is he making any sense to you?
LUTHER: Hey Shaman, you’re not with these nitwits, are you?
SHAMAN: I am with them and they are with me.
LUTHER: So, you don’t except Jesus into your heart either?
SHAMAN: I accept everybody into my heart.
LUTHER: Even Turks, Jews and the pope?
SHAMAN: Who are they?
LUTHER: People you will be hanging out with in hell.
SHINTO: This hell, where is it? I don’t see it on my map? Is in near Heidelberg?
LUTHER: Never mind. I need a drink.
SHINTO: Some saki?
LUTHER: Don’t get me started on rice wine.
Luther’s sour mood may have come from a long list of ailments: buzzing in the ears, severe headaches, abscess on leg, a sore throat and achy tooth. He also no longer fit in his monk’s robe, which made him cry into his straw pillow at night.
Luther also suffered a kidney stone, which is the worse affliction you can give a man next to removing his cable. And although never a good patient, he listened to his doctor’s orders for he really needed to pee. He even drank the doctor’s concoction of garlic and horse manure, which lends me to believe that if this was a common prescription, I can understand why Luther was always in a bad mood.
Luckily, the stone passed but Luther did not bounce back. As his health began to wane, he started to mellow in his temperament. He found comfort in counsel others who were far worse off than he. A note to his children’s tutor said, “Never be alone. Act foolish and play. Drink a good deal as long as the libation doesn’t come from that cesspool.”
Even at the end Luther never fell in love with his adopted city. Wittenberg gave him nothing more than a cold heart. “I shall keep on the move and would rather eat the bread of a beggar than torture and upset my old age and final days with the filth of Wittenberg, which destroys my hard and faithful work. My God, would it kill the town to pick up garbage more than once a month. I can barely walk down the alley.”
Along with the pope, Wittenberg and Luther would never reconcile, which may explain why Luther ended up succumbing to his ailments at his birthplace, Eisleben. While attending to some family business and sensing he was close to the end, he wrote an insightful passage on the humbleness we should all feel when it comes to true certainty:
“Nobody can understand Virgil in his Bucolics, unless he has been a shepherd for five years. Nobody can understand Virgil in his Georgics, unless he has been a plowman for five years. Nobody can understand Cicero in his Epistles unless he has lived for twenty-five years in a large commonwealth. Let no one think he has sufficiently grasped the Holy Scriptures, unless he has governed the churches for a hundred years with prophets like Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostles. Don’t venture of this divine Aenid, but rather bend low in reverence before its footprints! That is all. Peace! Luther out!”