Martin Luther, German Hero

Barry Stephenson

in Performing the Reformation

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732753
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777310 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

Martin Luther, German Hero

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This chapter examines Luther festivity past and present through the perspective of civil religion. The process by which Luther was fashioned into a national hero in the nineteenth-century, through liturgy, processions, and architecture, is detailed, as is the criticism of Luther that took place in the aftermath of the Second World War. The chapter argues that contemporary Luther festivity struggles to make sense of the dual nature of the remembered Luther. On one hand, Luther is a culture hero, one of the founding fathers of not just the Lutheran Church but the German nation and even modern western culture; on the other hand, Luther is an emblem of German anti-Semitism and imperialism. Using Luther as a cultural resource to revitalize the local economy and social life is a doubled-edged sword, and invites protest and reaction.

Keywords: Luther; civil religion; nationalism; Nazi Germany; protest

Chapter.  9676 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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