THE FIRES FOR TRUTH
‘If god had not been on our side
and had not come to aid us,
the foes with all their power and pride
would surely have dismayed us;
for we, his flock, would have to fear
the threat of men both far and near
who rise in might against us.
Their furious wrath, did God permit,
would surely have consumed us
and as a deep and yawning pit
with life and limb entombed us,
like men o’er whom dark waters roll
their wrath would have engulfed our soul
and, like a flood, o’er whelmed us.’
A Hymn written by MARTIN LUTHER
Luther put down his pen, massaged his eyelids and sat back rocking the chair. The heat of the day and the force of his arguments still flowed in his blood. Ninety five pointedly stated reasons felt belligerent, bludgeoning even, once he’d laid them down on paper. Perhaps a better means of expression would be found by someone else, after all he wasn’t a man known for his subtly. The argument was theologically sound, held its nerve and struck a loud ethical chord. He hoped to stimulate a wide ranging debate amongst his elders and contemporaries at the University. So he would post his message in the time honoured way.
A righteous thought
bears down with speed,
streaks it’s pure vapor trail across the sky
all too easily
redefining the heterodox,
by making brutal cuts in reason,
it failed to wrestle in the mud with humanity,
plucked compassion and
punched it to the ground,
a bird of certainty,
wings stretched wide,
swooped on, taking its message
toward the towering branches
of a populous and wealthy city.
A soft brush of air flew past Luther’s cheek as he raised his arm. Not one moment of doubt as the hammer came down, the full weight of gravity behind it, nailing the paper to the heavy oak door. As it struck, piercing the wood, the space behind it boomed as though something exploded within. Unlike God, words held no fear for him. Words were his chosen weapon. Words alone would stoke the fires for truth to manifest itself. He stepped back, confident word would travel - his words would travel. He strode home along the street, his mind preoccupied in speculation. The townsfolk looking quizzically at him, his broad strong hand tightly gripping a lump hammer.
Angry beasts, bull necked,
full steam, and on crusade,
pound the drum of the desert ground,
ready to knock the stuffing
out of any quibbling,
consensus is belittled,
sharp, caustic odors
flare the flags and nostrums,
indignant at the sweat of history
and made lucid by rage,
all will be expelled
from their homes, from their earth,
by democratic teeth
speaking from a corrupted mouth.
Luther had learnt to cultivate a more considered demeanor. To temper the indignance and violence so often implicit in his rhetoric. He could never rein himself in, too proud to be anything less than right. Today, he was sat in front of a council of justice, whose soul purpose was, by peaceful means, to quell his voice of dissent. He listened, their questions hid more truth than was revealed. His motives were painted in heretical colours. He’d wanted to reform the institution he loved, return it to the path of truth. This body now wanted to reform or expel him like a canker. He stood up, hands gripped behind his back, and tried hard not to spit his words out.
No one was listening,
so quietly vengeful serpents
the cities escalators and tunnels,
not without fear, but resolved
to burst the arteries of the capital,
with fire and mayhem
lives would be consumed,
the books they’d be reading
would lie burnt on their laps
all words are dead
when they take life
they will take away truth
with their own blood.
Luther’s lifelong battle with depression finally wore him out. Some mornings he awoke and all sense of what was true, what he placed his faith upon, had vanished and been relinquished from the grasp of his mind. This often happened just when the movement for reform needed firmer steering, from him. Usually external wealth and influence were perverting the purity of the restored faith, and the potential for violence would increase in response. As he grew older his tolerance soured and he became prone to bitter regretful outbursts. His own words echoing from his heart to his mind like an antiphon, ‘the more force we use the greater our disaster’.