Adam Ross's Reviews > The Wit of Martin Luther

The Wit of Martin Luther by Eric W. Gritsch
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's review
Oct 14, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: theology, humor-and-satire
Read in October, 2011

It is rare to find a book that intersects between theology and humor, likely because the theologians take themselves more seriously than God, because they take themselves more seriously than life does. Nevertheless, this little book on the wit of Martin Luther isn't just a compilation of Luther's more uproarious sayings, but a real effort to integrate his humor and wit directly into the heart of his theology. The result is the Luther comes off less like a late-night comedian and more like a man drunk in the joy of salvation. This salvation is one that is decidedly physical, involving all those bodily functions that God created and pronounced "good" which we are unable (thanks to our Victorian, Gnostic heritage) to talk about without going red in the face and a vigorous clearing of the throat. "I'm like a ripe stool," Luther said to his wife as he neared death, "and the world's like a gigantic anus, and we're about to let go of each other." Tends to shock the modern mind, but then again, the anus was created good and the metaphor is striking and apt. This is a wonderful little book about the basis for theological ribaldary and play. Luther would have gotten The Glare from many old church ladies today, but he was a supremely faithful Christian. We have a long way to recovering that balance. This little book is a good start (coupled with Douglas Wilson's excellent A Serrated Edge).
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