Dissing Like Martin Luther

Martin Luther was fond of a seriously harsh insult every now and again. I would like to imagine I would be Luther’s buddy, but the reality is that my ongoing effort to be as winsome as possible would have enraged a man who was impatient with one of the great idols of our age: balance. In the course of his polemical career, Luther faced up to one of the great heresy hunters of the 16th Century Catholic church, Jacobus Latomus. Latomus was a vicious opponent, but courteous in all his engagements. Hence, Luther had this to say:

You moderate enforcer and eulogizer of moderation. You are one of those bloody and deceitful people who affect modesty in words and appearance, but who meanwhile breathe out threats and blood.

– From Against Latomus, pg. 142 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 32, found here.

It’s a great bit of Luther writing, but it struck close to the bone. I seek to cultivate gentleness but all too often, I find myself doing nothing but affecting modesty.

Your Correspondent, He pretty much just does whatever Oprah tells him to

2 Replies to “Dissing Like Martin Luther”

  1. Lovely. I was just talking with my brother today about the idea of equanimity-as-control: the affected air of disinterest we are trained to expect from “serious” people and the corresponding discomfort we have when someone is so *interested* in a subject that they are *angry* about it.

  2. This resonates with me. I grew up watching Siskel & Ebert back when these two critics from competing newspapers didn’t like one another. Like them, I like arguing with passion. I even get angry sometimes. This doesn’t always serve me well. I’ve noticed that there are some people who use their equanimity as moral high ground. Regardless of the merits of their argument—and they might say some vicious, insulting things—they “win” because they maintain their cool.

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