NOTE- I went back and edited this some on Nov 2, 2003 to read better.
Last night I had an experience so gloriously incredible that I don’t know if I can begin to describe it with mere words, but I feel compelled to say something.
OK, here’s the story . . . last night, a good friend and I decided that instead of just hanging out at her place shooting the bull like we usually do on Friday nights, that we should stay drive into the City and see a movie. None of the listings jumped out at us until we saw the movie Luther mentioned, so we decided to go. I of course expected an interesting movie but I did not expect what actually happened to me as I watched the film.
This movie . . . it grabbed me from the opening scene as I saw Martin Luther’s spiritual journey take off. What compelled me about was that it seemed in so many ways to be familiar to me, it seemed like deja vu… his dramatic conversion experience that first was based on fear, his later transformation by the power of God’s word the warmth of the realization of God’s love . . . everything seemed so dead on, even his religious confusion at times and the feelings of self-hatred, it all seemed to be a reflection of my own experiences.
Even now I feel like my words do not begin to explain what happened to me as I watched the film. I felt the entire range of human emotions course through my veins, awful soul wrenching horror at the way religion was used to oppress innocent people and the way people often treat each other (especially seeing the corpses of those killed in the Peasant’s Revolt . . . even the dear little girl who had been cripped and scorned because of her handicap, yet Martin befriended and loved… even she died); joy at seeing Martin awaken to the love of God; inspiration in seeing the people respond to Martin’s message . . . I felt a burning incredible stirring of passion as seeing the courage of Martin Luther in being able to speak the truth to authority even when he risked his life to do so; and downright glee at seeing the days of his later life (he married a run-away nun late in life and had six children). I am not one who cries in movies but this one had me going almost the whole time. It was so beautiful. So incredibly beautiful.
Please see it if you can. Even if you are not religious I recommend it, as it is a powerful story not only for the religious but also for those who believe in academic and intellectual freedom. Martin Luther was one of the first who dared to say that common people COULD think for themselves. His contribution to the Western traditions of free thought and free speech are too immense to overstate.
For myself seeing this movie seemed to be like putting in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, particularly with the timing of it. It served as a reminder that despite the fact that my preaching assignment is about to end, that I am called to be a minister of the Gospel. I still don’t know how or when that will be manifested, but I believe it will be . . . by the way, tell me this isn’t coincidence… I saw this movie on October 31st… guess what day Martin Luther nail his 95 theises on the church door. . . OCTOBER 31ST!!!
ok enough talk about my personal life, here’s some more reviews/info about the movie and the life of Martin Luther…
- Martin Luther was the moral force of the Reformation, the priest who defied Rome, nailed his 95 Theses to the castle door and essentially founded the Protestant movement. He must have been quite a man. I doubt if he was much like the uncertain, tremulous figure in “Luther,” who confesses, “Most days, I’m so depressed I can’t even get out of bed.”It is unlikely audiences will attend this film for an objective historical portrait; its primary audience is probably among believers who seek inspiration. What they will find is the Ralph Nader of his time, a scold who has all his facts lined up to prove the Church is unsafe at any speed. . .
Ebert did not get this movie at all. It was Luther’s doubts that showed how deep his faith was. The movie’s portrayal of Luther as a troubled man is both powerful AND historically accurate.