Wednesday, October 31


Some Reformation-Era Ghoulishness for Hallowe'en

In addition to being Hallowe'en and the feast of St. Notburga (not the one who dresses like Maria von Trapp and whose emblem is a sickel, but someone else), it is also Reformation Day. I leave it up to the consciences of my readers whether they mark the day by wearing sackcloth or eating lutefisk, both of which are suitably frightening objects for Halloween as well.

That being said, let me reassure my Lutheran readers--all four of you--we happen to like Bach and, whatever our doctrinal differences, Herr Doktor Luther alternates with Ignatius of Loyola as the principal movie reviewer on Holy Whapping Television Network.

I suggest, thus, in a spirit of ecumenism, Catholics and Lutherans dress up as something they both find equally frightening, like the polygamist Anabaptist Jan Beukelszoon, the one-time King of the Münster Commune:
Claiming to be the successor of David, he claimed royal honours and absolute power in the new "Zion." He justified his actions by the authority of visions from heaven, as others have done in similar circumstances. He legalized polygamy, and himself took sixteen wives, one of whom he beheaded himself in the marketplace. Community of goods was also established. After obstinate resistance the town was taken by the besiegers on June 24, 1535, and in January 1536 Bockelson and some of his more prominent followers, after being tortured, were executed in the marketplace. Their dead bodies were exhibited in cages, which hung from the steeple of St. Lambert's Church; the cages still hang there, though the bones were removed later.
His followers were so weirdly heretical that, if I remember my high school history correctly, both Protestant and Roman forces ganged up on them to oust them from the city, an early example of practical ecumenical dialogue in action.

Today's Baptists, incidentally, have nothing to do with the Anabaptists, whose closest descendents are the Mennonites. They don't take multiple wives or totally flip out and kill people, but do seem to be very good at canning peaches and making furniture, if I understand correctly. Unless those were the Shakers. Or the Amish. Or something.

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