The Return of Martin Luther’s Ghost

Five years ago [Wow, how have I been doing this five years? – Ed.], I posted this sonnet about the Ghost of Martin Luther coming back to haunt a church on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It’s probably one of my most memorable poems, and kicked off the whole “read something ridiculous at Hutchmoot” tradition.

There was only one problem with it. Luther is haunting a Catholic church.

Now, there are several practices in Catholicism that I disagree with strongly, and overall I think its liturgical nature makes it easy to fall into the salvation-by-works trap. But I know many Catholics of sincere faith and have attended my share of Masses, and while I personally never expect to convert, I consider them brothers and sisters in Christ. Plus Luther himself had no desire to split from the Catholic church—only reform some horrible practices. So it never really sat right with me that I had my ghost-Luther haunt a church where a truly repentant priest was praying for his people.

So who would he haunt? And how would that person respond?

One big group came to mind.

Theobros. Those guys who only know how to rant angrily on Twitter about theology without actually putting any of it to practice.

And as for how the theobro responds, I’ll simply point you to the epigraph, copied here from the KJV for extra presumptuousness.

The Return of Martin Luther’s Ghost

Originally written October 22, 2022

“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” – Luke 16:31

The room was dark. A tablet, flickering,
Illuminated one man’s angry face.
Beside him, books he’d always been meaning
To read himself—but they showed not a trace
Of flipped pages or fingerprints. The man
Finished an angry tweet—whence came a blast
Of icy wind and sounds of organs grand.
The man just muttered, ready to lambast
His neighbors for loud music, when the Ghost
of Martin Luther entered in his room.
“I disbelieve you to the uttermost,”
Sneered loud the man. “Now go back to your tomb.
Your lessons—I swear nobody else knows
Better than I,” declared the theobro.

Photo by Wim van ‘t Einde on Unsplash