My Sacrifice for Lent

So, it’s Lent.

I’m Lutheran, which means Lenten sacrifice is not required (those of you who have survived the gauntlet that is Lutheran Confirmation are probably mumbling some variation of “sola gratia, sola fide” right now, <cough>ThisIsMostCertainlyTrue<cough>).  It is–at best–an interesting relic of our Catholic roots maintained as a cultural practice, not an integral part of our theology, and–at worst (to those really hard-core right-wing-y type Lutherans)–a papist heresy in which no good Lutheran would partake.

I like cultural relics and being heretical to crazy right-wing-y anti-Catholic Lutherans (seriously y’all?  You’re going to alienate our fellow sprinkle-not-dunk people?  You may as well put your beer down and go hang out with the boring t-totaling set), so I usually make some wacky attempt to give something up for the season.

This year I picked something half seriously….and I am failing like mad.

I am trying to give up swearing.

Yeah, my co-workers laughed hysterically, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee With A Side of Reformation

Cammy: While I was gung ho for coffee with Katie Luther, I’m hesitant about Marty himself–as highly un-Lutheran as that admission may seem.  For one thing, Marty had his not-so-happy opinions on religion, which in and of itself isn’t a problem for me, but I strongly suspect that he could be a bit of an ass in expressing those opinions.  I kind of get the impression that he was, especially in his older years, a bit too into bookish theology and could take on a Sheldon Cooper-esque hard headedness in supporting his position.

But I guess I’m willing to risk it.  After all, we might be able to pick the man’s brain about his translations of the Bible into German–which actually has a lot of secular implications since it’s one of the earliest examples of standardized, written German.  Which is cool.  And if we could get him to leave Jesus out of it, I’d like to see if we could get the man to talk politics without the religion (and see how much of the Protestant movement he would be willing to admit was political).

Really, I just want to hear Kristy ask him about nailing Theocrats to a door.

Kristy: Eh… I’m a bit hesitant also.  For one thing, I’m not Lutheran.  Now that might not really be much of a problem for him, since from what I’ve heard he really had not intention of starting his own religion, but… It’s a little awkward sitting opposite someone so identified with their theology when you don’t exactly follow it.  I have my doubts about how much fun conversation with him would be.  Interesting?  Yes.  Enlightening?  Sure.  But fun?

On the other hand, I like interesting.  And if I’m not there, who’s going to ask him about nailing the 95 Theocrats to a Cathedral door?  And it might be cool to hear exactly how much reform/separation he intended.  And whether nationalism was a factor at all.  And vernacular language.  I have read my Benedict Anderson, after all.  Okay… sure… I’ll give it a go.  But I’m texting Bridget to call me in half an hour so I have an out if I need it.

Coffee With…. Angela Merkel

Cammy: Yes!  While I know I should probably hesitate more about this, I can’t help it.  I would completely risk looking like a moron to sit down and have a cup of coffee with the “Iron Mädchen.”  Just as long as I had easy access to a German-English dictionary and time to brush up on my verb conjugations because the last thing in the world I’d want to do is go in and “Du-tz” the Chancellor of Germany (familiar rather than formal “you”).

I’ve got a boatload of topics I want to cover with this woman, starting with the quote I’ve heard attributed to her that “Anyone with something to say needs no makeup” (“Jeder, der wirklich etwas zu sagen hat, braucht kein Make-up”).  There’s a lot of clues to this woman’s personality wrapped up in that one, especially knowing how vastly she had to be “transformed” style-wise before winning her spot as Chancellor.  And the transition from physicist to politician–there’s got to be a goldmine of interesting talk to be had there.  I’ve got my theories about women in political power with science backgrounds, and a conversation with Merkel would go a long way toward testing those theories.  And, of course, I couldn’t talk with this woman without going into the East German thing.  Not just the recent little amusing story about how she was at the sauna when the wall came down, but about the impressive fact that she’s an East German in the top job in a unified German.  Symbolic, if nothing else.

I’m anticipating that the woman has at least a little bit of a sense of humor (anyone making a crack about the German sense of humor is invited to attend one of my family reunions for a counter-argument), which, hopefully, would keep her from getting pissed at me firing off questions like a fan-girl at at Con Q & A.  Hmmmm, maybe this should be over a beer instead of coffee….

Kristy: Um… probably not.  To be clear, this is not about not wanting to have coffee with Chancellor Merkel.  I’m just fairly certain she wouldn’t want to have coffee with me.  There’s that whole thing about the make-up.  Personally, I’m a huge fan of make-up (what?  I have fair skin and had horrible acne as a teen, I’m covered with acne stains and no one wants to see them).  I know some feminists will roll their eyes and tell me I’m just allowing myself to be exploited and I’m trying to fit myself to the expectations of men and yadda yadda.  But I disagree.  I don’t wear make-up for men–they don’t notice it.  I’ve had conversations with my male friends about how they don’t like women with lots of make-up; inevitably they praise me for not wearing much, oblivious to the fact I’m speaking from underneath a pound of concealer and powder.  I wear make-up for myself.  Partially because the powder absorbs the grease my skin produces and keeps it from clogging my pores, but mostly because I feel better about myself with it on.  And when I feel better, I’m more confident, more likely to speak my mind, more likely to get things done.  But somehow I think the “Iron Maedchen” might just see me as superficial and vain.  Also, I’ll be totally lost when she and Cammy start talking about science and physics.  And I don’t know a word of German.  So I will eagerly take notes about everything she says when Cammy comes back with a full report, but I don’t think I’ll be attending that little coffee klatch.

Cammy: I think there’s more to  the cultural aspect of the make-up thing here.  It’s not just about the make-up itself–it’s how it ties to her being an East German.  As I understand it, cosmetics were an incredible luxury item before Communism collapsed.  An Epic!Win hostess gift when visiting the East was some CoverGirl eyeshadow.  It’s one of those things that set “Ossis” apart from the West.  There was, and still remains a view of those from the East as being backward in comparison to the West (at least in Germany).  So, needing make-up for confidence was as much a luxury as the make-up itself, especially immediately after unification when the East Germans definitely had something to say.  Merkel’s line is more of a defense against those in the West who were too busy laughing at their dowdy Eastern neighbors.  I’ll grant you that I like that quote because I’m the lazy girl who doesn’t like to put on make up and would love to level the cultural playing field enough to remove the pressure for me to put it on, but the reality of the quote is something different altogether and it probably doesn’t do either of us much credit to reduce it to mere physical appearance.

All that said, I’ll give you an out on this one, Kristy, though part of me would really like to drag you in.  I have a feeling you’d find a way to hit it off with the Iron Mädchen better than I would.  If nothing else, you two could sit around and practice your Russian together and leave me out.  And don’t forget, no matter how you interpret the make-up comment, they DID hire a stylist for the woman to get her into office, and last election she was workin’ the cleavage, so…..

Coffee With….Nuns Edition Continued!

Would we drink coffee with Katharina Von Bora – Luther

Cammy: Oh, no doubt  I would totally sit down for a cup of coffee with Katie Luther.  Maybe this is because I was raised a Lutheran and the single deviation from straight-up bible stories you got in Sunday school was that around Reformation Sunday you’d get one lesson on the 95 Theses, and if you were REALLY lucky your teacher would talk a little about how ex-monk Martin Luther married a former nun who was smuggled out of a convent in a fish barrel.

Seriously.  Renegade nuns in a barrel!  How could I not want to get this woman to sit down and have a cup of coffee?

My post Sunday-school knowledge of Katie is only marginally larger.  Data on her is limited.  To the fish barrel bit I’ve added knowledge that she was put into a convent at 5, took vows at 16 and after her escape Luther helped find a place for her to stay with the family of Lucas Cranach the Elder (a German artist–if you ever do costuming for the Reformation era in Germany, his works are fantastic resources).  Career options being limited, the idea was to marry her off.  She hit it off with one fellow, but his family disapproved.  Several others she didn’t like and finally Katie herself laid it out– it would be Luther or his buddy von Armsdorf, or she wasn’t getting married.  Who knows if Luther actually loved her, or just realized the woman would be able to take care of the place so he could work?  Because that is exactly what she did.  Raising kids (her own and those they adopted), raising cows, raising crops and–my personal favorite–brewing beer!  Luther refers to her in his writings as “My Lord Katie” and alludes more than once to her running the house, saying that in spiritual matters he looked to God, but in domestic matters he looked to Katie.

I need coffee to get the details and fill the gaps.  A renegade, fish-barrel nun who brews beer and rules the house while her hubby totters off to think and write deep thoughts.  There’s no way she’s not a witty woman.  Just no way.  Forget a treatise on being saved by grace not by works–I want to hear about brewing beer and how she got her hands on Protestant contraband before blowing out of that cloistered-Popsicle stand.

Kristy: I’ll admit I never heard of Katherina von Bora Luther before living with Cammy.  Little Methodist children didn’t get any lessons about renegade nuns and nailing theocrats to cathedral doors.  We didn’t even get Reformation Sunday.  But she sounds like a cool lady.  Clearly strongminded, not ruled by convention, but not in your face unless necessary.  You get the impression that if Marty forgot to wipe the mud off his boots before entering her kitchen he was likely to get a sound lashing from a wooden spoon.  Or perhaps worse, denied beer.  And I bet she’s not above sharing some convent gossip over a cup of strong coffee.  Sounds like a good time.

Cammy: Wait, wait, wait.  You don’t get a Reformation Sunday?  *gasp*  What’s the point of being Protestant?!?  And I think you’re right about the boots.  I suspect there was tight ship run in the Luther household.  I think we should grab your Sor Juana together so we can listen to them compare nun stories, though I suspect those stories would be better served with das bier than das kaffee.

Kristy: I guess maybe since us Methodists split from the Anglicans rather than directly from the Catholics we don’t have quite the special place for Marty that you Lutherans do.  Also, it’s possible we do have Reformation Sunday and just don’t do anything about it.  ‘Member we’re the warm, fuzzy variety of Protestants; and it’s hard to bother observing obscure holidays when you’re being all fuzzy.