Berlin, den 31ten Oktober, 2017
musingsÜBER MARTIN LUTHER
Born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, a town on the eastern edge of the Harz mountains, west of Leipzig. Martin Luther was the second of 9 children. His father was a miner named Hans Luther from a farming family on the western edge of the Thüringer forest. In accordance with the inheritance law at the time of the death of Hans Luther's father, Hans left the farm to his younger brother and went to work in the mining business. In this period, the region was a large producer of metals like copper, quicksilver, and lead.
In 1484 Hans Luther bought into and worked in a copper mining operation in a town near to Eisleben called Mansfeld where he managed through arduous work and stamina to obtain a moderate amount of wealth.
In 1533 M.L. wrote of his parents,
„My father was, in his youth, a poor miner. Our mother carried all of her firewood home herself. They raised us so. They withstood hard misery that no one in the world today would want to endure“
1497 Martin Luther went from the Mansfelder Stadtschule to the Magdeburger Domschule where the ways, the rituals, the discipline of living together in a monastery were taught.
1498-1501: Luther attended pastor school St. George in Eisenach. Luther found spomsorship from 2 Patrician families, Schalbe and Cotte. Finished studies of Latin with fluent reading, writing, and speaking abilities.
1501 moves to Erfurt to attend University. Studies Grammatik, Rhetorik, Logik, Ethik, Aristotelische Meta-Physik. Earns the degree of „Magister Artium“
1505 While visiting his Father in Mansfeld, the younger Luther concedes to his father's wish that he undertake the study of Juristic. On the journey back to Erfurt, July 2nd, 1505. M.L. is caught in a terrible thunderstorm. He swears to Holy Anna, the patron of mountain folk, that (presumably if he survives the storm) he will become a monk.
July 17th, 1505 M.L. Enters the Order of the Augustiners. studies Theology at the Closter of the Augustiner-Erimiten.
February 27, 1507 Ordained to priesthood, assigned to the study of theology where he (must have been) exposed to the work of Wilhelm von Ockham (14th century) where philosophical and theological truths were separate. Luther studied also the Bible, the church fathers (Kirchenväter), and theological comments.
October 1508 General Vikar of the Augustine Congregation, Johannes von Staupitz brought M.L. From Erfurt to Wittenberg where Luther was given the task of holding Bible readings at the University. Shortly thereafter he was returned to Erfurt to perform the Bible readings there.
1510, Journey to Rome
Luther, while in Rome, sought forgiveness of sins and purgatory for himself and his familie. This he did with Scorpio characteristic fire and intensity. At the time one gained forgivemess through confession and punition. Not just, „my son you have sinned, do 25 Hail Marys and come by sometime next week, by then you surely have tallied some more sins“ but rather brutal methods as „Selbstzerfleischung“, which would suggest, if your self-flaggelation doesn't get the skin flying, you are doing it wrong!
Surely he began to ponder, and in fact he later wrote „How do I get a merciful God?“. Luther also became dis-trustful of the riches and wordliness he observed in Rome.
That same year, Luther is summoned by von Staupitz back to Wittenberg to take the position of closter preacher. Granted the title „Doctor of Philosphy“ and received a professorship, „Lectura in Biblia“. „Exegetische Vorlesungen“ were his task. Martin Luther was charged with not only reading out loud, but interpreting the Bible. Martin Luther delivered his sermons in the church until his death in 1546, interrupted only by periods of sickness and a ten-month soujourn on the Wartburg.
1511-1517 Solo Gratia, Solo Fide During these years Luther developed his interpretation of Christianity.
Solo Gratia: Only God has the power to absolve the soul of sin.
Solo Fide: Only to believe in God and to dedicate one's life to God can bring the mercy of God.
Papal Indulgences, Absolution for Sale!
1514 Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg was chosen to become the Arch- Bishop of Mainz. He wanted however to keep his positions at the Archdioces of Magdeburg and Administrateur of Halberstadt. This was not unusual for the time, but Pope Leo X wouldn't let a good deal get away. Pope Leo X proposed a very high priced Papal Indulgence for the financing of tthe Peterskirche. It was the deal of a life-time, and even the next two generations could receive absolution from sins and be spared the discomfort of eternal purgatory if they purchased this document. The Augsburger banker family Fugger provided Albrecht with the credit, the money would be split between Rome and Albrecht. It remained only for the land-folk and hand-workers to produce the goods to pay off this debt.This exemplifies the business model of Papal Indulgences. Directed from Rome, as intermediaries between God and Man, the clergies of the Catholic Church held the normal folk in ignorance through allowing the sacred texts to be read only in Latin, while at the same time holding them in fear of eternal punishment for their sins. Repentance and absolution could be achieved simply through purchasing it from an official representative of God, the Pope himself.
In the state of Sachsen, where the city Wittenberg was located, the handle in Indulgences was not allowed. Friedrich III „the Wise“Kurfürst von Sachsen, (Elector from Saxony) as many other Electors in the patchwork of states comprising the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation,(Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation), saw the practice as depleting their local economy while observing the blossoming Renaissance that was occuring in Florence and Rome being the beneficiary of the german city- state's financial losses. For Martin Luther the practice clearly was a mis-use of the scripture for the sake of profit.
Although banned in Sachsen, in the nearby city of Juterborg, in the territory of Brandenburg,the practice was allowed and it was there that the Domincan monk Tetzl, in service of Cardinal Albrecht, was plying the trade in absolutions quite loudly. This came as a challenge, an affront, to Martin Luther in Wittenberg. Luther had been speaking and writing against the practice for some years and in view of the poverty of his own congregation, remembering his trauma from his early years as a monk, Luther set out to use the power of the word to stop the work of the devil, and it was for God to decide if Luther was righteous or not. As he later remarked before the Council of Worms, he would not, could not, recant, „so help me God, amen“.
Today, October 31st. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the famous „Thesenanschlag“ the nailing of the ninety-five theses to the door of the chapel at the University in Wittenberg. This was not so audacious an event as the text itself, as it was well with-in the authority of Martin Luther's position to post announcements on his church door.
„The 95 Theses of Martin Luther“, as they are short-handly referred to today, were written in Latin and bore the title, „Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum“ Disputation for the declaration of the virtue of indulgences. However, the first record of the 95 Theses is as a supplement to a letter sent from Luther to the Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, Albrecht von Brandenburg dated October 31, 1517. So the narrative involving a hammer and a nail is just fake news. So sad.
Most likely it would seem the message from Luther to Albrecht could be paraphrased so: „Stop it with the Indulgences! If you do not stop, this document, the 95 Theses, will get leaked to the press.“ for, the newly developed technology of the printing press was quite familiar to Luther, and the potential of the power of the Word which this new technology enhanced did not pass Luther by. The 95 Theses document was passed on to aquaintances, amongst them, Wilhelm and Konrad Nesen, who published the document for the first time.
It should also be remarked, that in conjuction with the printing press, the fact that people at that time had begun to wear underwear. simply put, cloth that is disposed of with greater frequency than outer garments, provided an important source of raw material for making paper.
This event was just the beginning of the story for Martin Luther, northern Europe, and the Protestant movement. His writings would inflame the farmer uprisings, a new schism, the 30 years war, and many other brutal events, all of which he distanced himself from. His power, was the Word. This power he set against the fraudulent destructive business of Indulgences.
Central to the success of the Indulgences business model is the ignorance of the consumer, the idea of purgatory, and the fear thereby planted in their minds. A problem-reaction-solution model.
500 years later we have experienced the introduction of the internet into our everyday lives.This new technolgy has enabled every individual to be their own Martin Luther, for whatever issue they may choose. We see a new theological Herrschaft in the form of the medical industry, the so-called „health system“, that to build new cathedrals for themselves, stoke the fears of their beguiled clients while offering them Ablass, absolution from suffering for a price, when in truth „health“ is only granted by the good, sound relationship of the person to their body and is not something that can be purchased, much less so when it is mandated by law.
500 years later we see that the basis of language, economy, education and ethics for which Martin Luther and his contemporaries made a meaningful contribution, are still today the basis of German culture and law. A look at the Grundgesetz, something akin to a constitution, we find some resonances of Luther:
Everyone has the right to express themselves in the form of a written letter.
Eigentum verpflichtet Property comes with responsibilities and should be used for the greater good (Wohl der Algemeinheit „the common good“)
are just two examples.
It saddens me to see that Germany suffers under the new theological Herrschaft of the pharma/medical industry. As the insurers and medical professionals build their houses, buy their cars and live the good life, the self-employed entrepreneurs are being squeezed to produce that wealth. As of today, the sum of unpaid insurance premiums from self-employed people in Germany has reached seven Billion Euros!
If the self-employed „creative class“ of today are the common farmers from the 16th century, then who today is their Martin Luther?
On this point I would like to congratulate Dr. Jens Baas, head of Germany's largest insurer, the Techniker Krankenkasse for an astounding statement he made in October of 2016 regarding a dubious practice of insurers making contracts with doctors to exaggerate diagnosi to „Chronic“ in order to raise the price for treatments. The profits are split between the doctor and the insurer. It is bad enough that doctors unions and insurance companies would conspire to exaggerate diagnosi. What is not mentioned is whether or not treatments take place based on these „frisierte diagnose“ (trans. Diagnosis with a hair-cut“), of course they do, but he does not say it. The real kicker is this: Dr. Baas clearly states, the rates payed by the insured go into the collective fund at the federal level. If the insurance company wants to get any of this money for it's own it must provide services to the insured. Conclusion: The insurance company is dependent for it's solvency on people getting sick! (and furthermore, je kranker desto besser, the sicker, the better)
See it here
So Congratulations Dr. Jens Baas, I Jonathan Robinson would like to bestow you the MARTIN LUTHER PRIZE on this the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation! Thank you for your courage and engagement!
"Deutsche Geschichte, Reformation und gegen Reformation" Siegfried Grisshammer 1517-1618, volume 6, LEXIKOTEK Verlag GmbH, 1983
„Die Lutherische Berufs- und Wirtschaftsethik, eine Einführung“ Dr. Andreas Pawlas, Neukirchner Verlag 2000
text Copyright Jonathan R. Robinson 2017
with a special thanks to Stefan Molyneux, who has set the standard for rigorous fact-based research and rational discourse in the internet broadcast medium.
Charleston, SC 1993
„Because you're white, it's gonna cost you double.“ my passenger remarked as I was with-drawing money from the drive-up ATM. There was nothing for me to say but only to look the young man straight in the eye to get his story and share with him my own. It may sound fantastic but we do it on a daily basis. A shared fraction of a second, eyes locked in communication sharing information at a speed IBM can only dream of, still even today.
„Are you my friend?“
„How do you feel?“
„What are your intentions?“
„Will you bear my children or just be a character in my adventure story tonight?“
I'll call my passenger Johnny for convenience but in my memory his actual name was a fine southern name. By that I mean names which in that region, South Carolina, owing in part to the cultural legacy of the Huegenots are often en vogue: Clement, Beauregard, Delbert, Quentin. In this situation his name was not important, his story was.
I looked. Still a young boy in there glowing in his mother's love, hardships, betrayal, fear, a strength of will to get through it, by all means necessary and the thought „This guy's doing well it doesn't seem like he's been kicked down as I have been. Maybe I'll try it. Payback's a bitch ain't it? I'll just take him to a dark street corner, take the money and tell him, I'll be right back with your grass, just wait here. I don't want to hurt anybody but I won't starve for peace tonight....“
My eyes told him „Dude I get your beef. We'll get through this“
I was new in town and wanted some grass. Johnny was one of the many characters hanging around Charleston. That's how I first met him. Hanging around the main drag in front of a jazz club where I was performing. He made a good impression. So good in fact that I was happy to invite him in my car to go score some grass. It must have been a spontaneous decision on his part to try to pull me over the table on the deal.
Well, what do you? Still having hope in the deal and not really sure how ejecting him from my car could work, I drove with my passenger to some dark street corner back ally, tensions mounting, minds computing all possible scenaria except this one:
Suddenly in the headlights stood Ogun, his arms waving, „Stop, Jon, stop!“
My de facto angel of salvation, Ogun. A real Yoruba priest, on his turban an incense stick burning, his rice filled plastic bottle shaker in one hand, charms hanging around his neck. He would always stand outside the club watching, listening, chanting his yoruba prayers, his eyes locked with mine, asking every question of the other as the band played tunes like Voyage, Afro Blue, Take Five etc. for the tourists.
I was glad to see Ogun. „DRIVE!“ off we went directly downtown, where there's lights, people.
Ogun sat in the back yelling at Johnny „ What are you doing to my friend? Are you crazy? You could get hurt go to jail...don't turn to evil! It's your soul that you have to protect.if you have problems come to me.“and so on. Johnny got the whole Leviathan from Ogun as we drove through the „Tourist area“ around the old Slave Market, now a different kind of institution in Charleston, the strip, the drag, where it all happens, the toursists getting off the cruiseliners and enjoying the warm, open and lively Charleston night life, without having to go too deep under the surface of the symbolism on that former crime scene of so much misery. Why not tear down this former temple of chattle slavery? Or is it better to let it stand to be desecrated by entertainment, free commerce, and the joy it brings when people from everywhere get together in love, prosperity and equality?. Many may wonder at this as they stroll the historical landmark some evening.
Johnny, Ogun and I were suddenly there washed together onto the shore from so many waves of history that resonate still in that place and in ourselves as we tried to come clear with one another, basically.
Johnny was starting to get tears, Ogun was berating him further and I was trying to cool the whole thing out. „Johnny, look, I can understand being desperate and trying to make a hustle but don't be short sighted, you might take me once for say 20 bucks, but that's just the price I would have to pay to know I can't trust you on the other hand you would miss out on a very good customer!“
Because with his tears his story was also now pouring out, 19 years old, broken family, homeless in Charleston SC set up in abscensia in a board room on Wall street to get knocked down here on the hard streets of Charleston, just like it has been done for centuries.
It wasn't the last I saw of Johnny when he stepped out of my car that evening, we all shaking hands with an ocular pact unspoken that in the future we look out for each other. Love and forgiveness had brought us through the heart of darkness into which a brutal history would have had us slipping. It could have very well been my demise with the headline „BLACK KILLS WHITE“ if things had gone differently that night in Charleston in 1993. For only this distillation of events would have been carried in the chatter, the cacophony of fear and hate trumpeted by a ruling class owned press that has one goal, divide and conquer, teilen und herrschen, divide et impera, since the first printing press landed on the north american shores. „BLACK KILLS WHITE“ ad nauseum propagandized filling another, yet another small boy with fear, himself trapped in a brutal isolation of another kind, never given the chance in his pen of fear to get a random hug from the as some in Charleston call it, „ethnic“ mother who may happen to pick him up when he falls just to give him that fraction of a second of togetherness, her eyes say „You are you and I am here for you i love you i love you i love you you sweet sweet boy“ thusly blowing the lid off the whole 400 year scam. Time is infinity in a millisecond when we look into each others eyes and this can change the world if our eyes were not constantly wrapped over with flags and such.
And YOU who would cast your own shadow of darkness, carpet bombing so to speak in your brutal american vernacular, over these good people of Charleston and the state of South Carolina who MARCH together in the strength of numbers, love and forgiveness, YOU who would wrap these people en mass into a symbol, a flag, endowed with a meaning YOU have given to it from the position of your vain superiority and self-importance that comes with living on the side of the „victor“. Take it down, burn it up, step on it, stamping these good people through a dreck that they in their hearts have long left behind them not forgotten, but forgiven. YOU may watch and learn what it means to step into the light of LOVE and exit from the burning darkness of hate while your fingers sit idle on the keyboard in shame. The mark twain is upon us, the water is deep. Which bend in the river have you steamed down?
„through the heart of darkness,“ text copyright reserved Jonathan Ritchey Robinson 2015
May 2 3:30pm
ALDA wrote: turn on the news
JONATHAN wrote: Wassup?
ALDA: Bin Laden´s dead
JONATHAN: oh that
It was puzzling so late in the afternoon to read this imperative chat message. It had, after all, been well commented on in all the social media that day. The USA´s best trained hit-men had capped the Al Qaeda king-pin. GERONIMO! Reading, “turn on the news” so late in the day made me think there had been some dramatic repercussion. These urgent words sent me searching memories from years ago.
Knock, knock “look out your window!” It was Tuesday September 11th. In a warehouse in Greenpoint/ Williamsburg, Brooklyn I was waking up my housemate who lived in the bedroom next to mine. No one is allowed to sleep through Armageddon. One Tower was already down and the other was shrouded in a thick cloud but needed still some hours before it too “succumbed to the damage from impact with a jet airliner”. As much as I was freaked out I was also not surprised. The writing had been on the wall for some time and also on some T-shirts: “My war´s bigger than Daddy´s war” was the most poignant. The television showed live coverage of the burning tower while behind it the bedroom window gave eyewitness account, and that´s how we saw the second tower crumble: in visual stereo. Then the fear and uneasiness kicked in and I had to get out of the house. I walked over to Bedford Avenue. The sun was shining and the fighter jets were flying overhead, a little too late for that party. Aside from a few dust covered Wall Street types occasionally stepping out of the L train, and a total absence of traffic, Williamsburg in all it´s hipness had not been disturbed from the day’s events. From the main drag of Bedford Ave. you couldn´t even see the plume rising from the inferno just some miles away. Gèrard came walking on the other side of the street. He crossed over towards me, shook his head and motioned for me to come with him. He had just walked all the way from the Guggenheim. He was in his usual paint smeared over-alls with nothing else on underneath. If you ever saw the picture of Robert Johnson with a cigarette in his mouth and a guitar in his hands, picture that with the vertical dread-locks of Jean-Michel Basquiat and that´s Gèrard. Around that time he and I would play in the subway for the morning rush-hour. Most of his tunes were two chords, E minor and B7, played in alternating tarantella and flamenco styles. It was always a revealing lesson for me with my university degree to see how the bills would pile up in the case just from these two chords. Feeling and believing. That´s what it´s about and Gérard was a true believer. He was another kid from a middle-class suburb who threw the American dream away in pursuit of his self expression and this at all costs. No amount of poverty and squalor was going to dissuade him. His guitar, his music, his art were his life raft and sword in one. We were everyday paying our rent through soothing the souls of the weary and never once did I catch Gèrard on auto-pilot. (did I say auto-pilot?)
Up in Gèrard´s kitchen we sat, he smoking a cigarette and neither of us talking. What was there to say? Morning rush hour was going to be gone for some months and along with that our rent money. The gears of history were grinding up humanity and many more innocent people had still yet to die. There has been much said about 9-11 in the last years. Let me just clarify something.
You all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?
One day the three bears went for a walk together in the woods. Soon they came across the Tortoise who said to Papa Bear, “Goldilocks don´t like how that went down with the porridge last time. She´s mad and this time she´s coming back with a baseball bat and she will trash your kitchen, your beds, and tip over your honey pot!”
Papa bear shrugged. What did he care about some porridge? Bears eat meat.
“oooo kaay! Your ass is covered, you Testudi-no-idea! Hehe hehe..”
Tortoise turned his head to the side and looked with his eye at Papa Bear, then shrunk into his shell. Mama Bear overheard this and thought of her house. “In winter it´s too cold, in summer too hot, when family comes to visit it´s too small, for three it´s too big. I want a house that´s just right!” The next day Mama bear went to buy a new insurance policy on her house with a special clause regarding Goldilocks intrusions. Then she contacted the termites. She made a deal that she would stop eating them if they do a job for her. So for the next weeks the termites got to work eating away at the foundation of the Three Bears Lodge (TBL). One sunny day Mama Bear was at the market, Papa Bear was out looking for meat, and Baby Bear was asleep in her bed. Goldilocks came to the house with her baseball bat, shattering everything in sight, coming finally to the honey pot. It was in comparison to Goldilocks quite an enormous honeypot. Goldilocks pushed and pulled with all her might and finally the honeypot was tipped over. It came crashing to the floor, honey gushed everywhere and suddenly the floor gave way underneath. Goldilocks fled the scene. The house queeched and shivered, Baby Bear was trapped upstairs. The bears of Bearsville came to help but as you guessed it, the house caved in, killing the innocent Baby Bear. Papa Bear came across the Tortoise, “ I told you so! Goldilocks trashed your house” Papa bear sat still for some moments, five minutes to be exact.. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was shame, but Papa Bear stayed out in the woods for two days before returning to the scene of the disaster. The bears of Bearsville covered the town in Bearsville flags and cried for revenge,” punish Goldilocks!” Some Bears sat quietly and thought “How can a baseball bat bring down a whole house?
You see? Goldilocks did it, Papa Bear let it happen, Mama Bear cashed in, and Baby Bear got buried.
A friend gave me an ecstasy tablet. It was my first summer in Berlin, TV on the Radio was playing at Knaack, and this was the perfect time to try what the pharma branch has been pumping into overly rambunctious children for years, ‘E’. I walked into the club. Gèrard was sitting on the sofa, smoking a cigarette, with a camera, lights and a microphone pointed at him. He was being interviewed. I sat myself down, wide-eyed and smiling like the sun, just waiting for that moment of surprise when Gérard looks away from the camera and recognizes me. It was good to see him again and here in Berlin. We had of course been through hell and back together in a short time. It was great to see us both alive and well. In fact EVERYTHING was great was how I was feeling, I won´t lie to you.
The band opened up with “Wrong Way”, a rocking blues number. Gérard was solid on the bass. Believing every note and holding on like his life depended on it. They finished a good hour set and the audience was chanting “Zu-ga-be!”.-it´s a german thing-. Gérard jumped off the stage and darted down the hall grabbing my arm and dragging me with him. I turned and looked back at the stage, Tunde, the lead singer was looking at me like, “WTF?”. I could only shrug as if to say, “Sorry man, but you know Gérard”. We sat on a doorstep around the corner. Gèrard lit a cigarette and cracked open a beer. “You´re drinking again?” “It´s just to take the edge off of touring” He then sank into silence, catching a deep and contemplative breath. Just like on 9-11. There was some kind of weight on his soul, an unsolved trauma. I could sense it but I didn´t say anything. It was enough to share the moment with him, talking was trivial. Eventually he snapped out of it and we went to chat with some of the others from the band.
Osama Bin Laden is dead. By all official accounts it seems to me that the SEALS didn´t consider the second of the two options, “Dead or Alive”. I mean, surely it wouldn´t have been so difficult if they had already gotten to his bedroom? No waterboarding for Osama. The rich always get off somehow. Who knows what might have come out? Better just pull the weed out from the root. The media is so full of phony hollywood action, this time we get the real deal, first person shooter live to the situation room, and the flag waving starts again.
May 4 19:24
Seanin Hawthornthwaite hey jon,did you hear about gerard?
What did the internet have to say about Gerard?
“After a battle with lung cancer, TV On The Radio bassist Gerard Smith has passed away.” Gèrard took the 2:19 train.
Grief is a process. I searched for some clips of the band to see Gérard. One clip after another and Gérard is always standing with his back to the camera, up-close to the bass-amp, hunched over his instrument. “Damn Gèrard! Let me get just one look at you! Why are you hiding?” It was his reclusive style. I imagine he even told the camera man to stay off of him.
Death don´t have no mercy. It leaves behind memories but takes a lot of secrets with it, as a stone cast into the ocean sinks to the bottom, gone forever.
This text is dedicated to none other than the late Gerard Smith. You were a blessing and the honor was ours.
Thanks for the memories Gèrard!
All rights reserved.