Wednesday, April 18

If You Can't Swallow the Bull, Try a Diet of Worms

Image - Wikipedia
By Grant Davies

On this day in 1521, a Roman Catholic professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Wittenberg made an appearance in the town of Worms, Germany. His name was Martin Luther and he was there to appear before the Imperial Diet (a formal assembly) to either defend or renounce his beliefs about the church.

It seems he had a list of about 95 things that caused him a great deal of irritation. Some say that in order to get  them off his chest he nailed them to the door of his local parish a few years earlier. One way or the other, he sure made them known.

One of the people who knew about them was Pope Leo X and he disagreed with a lot of them. So, in June 1520, in order to make his irritation with Luther known, he issued a Papal Bull which addressed them.

One of the people who knew about the Pope's Bull, a guy named Emperor Charles V, decided to do something about it. He summoned Luther to the Diet where a contentious debate ensued. When Luther wouldn't back down, Charlie declared him to be "an obstinate heretic" and ordered that he be arrested and punished.

The kind of punishment he had in mind usually resulted in a distinct lack of breath for the "punishee", so a supporter of Martin's, a guy named Prince Frederick, had him arrested instead and taken to Wartburg Castle to digest his diet of worms. There, he was basically a guest of the Prince and continued on with his work of translating the New Testament into German and protesting against the church.

Meanwhile, the Emperor became distracted with other things and let the whole thing drop. Martin returned to his freedom, and Protestantism was born.

So the moral of the story is something like this: If you can't stomach the bull anymore, don't just "go eat worms", as the children's song suggests. Do something about it like Martin Luther did. Go start your own gig.

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