Friday, February 18, 2011

Collecting Manna: Martin Luther

Though he is generally considered one of the "villains" of 20th-century Lutheranism by many at LTSS, German theologian and Luther-scholar Gerhard Ebeling's certainly knows how to find good quotes from the Reformer. This one comes from his classic, though not-unproblematic, introduction to Luther's thought, and be-speaks the physical, embodied nature of the life of the mind. Encouraging for all of us sitting inside on a gorgeous day like today reading Luther and Ebeling!

To be concerned with words alone, whether as a teacher or writer, a lawyer or preacher, may appear a comfortable activity, while to ride in armour, to suffer heat, frost, dust, thirst and other discomforts, would be real work. It is true that it would be difficult for me to ride in armour. All the same, I would like to see the horesman that could sit still for a whole day looking at a book, even if he did not have to compose, think or read or worry about anything else. Ask a clerk, a preacher or a speaker what kind of work writing and speaking is; ask a schoolmaster what kind of work the teaching and education of boys is. A pen is light, certainly...but at the same time the best part (the head), the noblest member (the tongue), and the loftiest activity (speech) of the human body have to bear the brunt and do the most work, while with others it is the hand, the foot and the back or some similar limb which does all the work, while at the same time they can sing merrily and joke as they please, which a writer cannot do.
Three fingers do everything (so they say of writers), but the whole body and soul take part in that work. (Ebeling, Luther: An Introduction to His Thought. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970, 43.)

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