95 Theses to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

It’s October 31st.  That means that, for most in Canada, kids are going to go trick or treating door-to-door this evening in costume.  For Lutherans (of which, I just found out, there are only 152,500 in the ELCIC now – down by about 10, 000 since I checked last, and down by almost 50,000 since merger in the mid-1980s), it’s Reformation Day!  …not that we ignore Hallowe’en – I’ll be taking my three-year-old out, dressed up like Snow White, tonight.

It occurred to me this morning, just before the service began, that Martin Luther would have been the same age as I am now when he nailed his 95 Theses to the castle-church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.  His intention was to invite debate about injustice in the 16th Century Roman Catholic Church, and the timing of nailing them to the door on October 31st was that people would see the posting when they came for church on All Saints Day – the next day.

Perhaps you heard about Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” – yesterday in Washington, DC.  Hopefully you were able to tune in to the live stream of it, though it’s been uploaded in its entirety on this website.  I think that Stewart, with this rally, and particularly with his closing remarks, made a statement about how people tend to view the world.  We tend to take things uncritically – allowing emotionally-laden stories enter our imaginations – and it creates walls between us.  Media (be it in print, on the small screen, or by internet) exploits this.

The supposed march-in-opposition, staged by Stephen Colbert, “March to Keep Fear Alive,” happened in tandem with Jon Stewart’s event – they were in the same place, the same time, and shared the same stage.  But even the title is telling: do we allow fear to permeate our lives?  (I’m not naive to the clever way in which Colbert lampoons right-wing media in “The Colbert Report.”)

The thing is: do we do the bold and courageous work of truth-telling in our lives?  My hunch is that complacency and apathy lead to inactivity, or simply turning a blind eye.  We all know that people are more than their religious perspectives, gender identities, sexual orientations, political affiliations, environmental activism, and so on, and yet it’s easy to allow ourselves to steer clear of people based on single traits or views (I’ve done it too).

We keep ourselves apart from each other too often, when we really need to be working together.  Our planet needs us to work together.  We need to work together to feel safe – not in the sense of forming an army, but in the sense of getting to know about our similarities and differences so we can relate.  Our future depends on our looking for truth in all its grey areas.

I think Jon Stewart – even as an American Jew – spoke words that come from the spirit of the Reformation this weekend.  As I listened and tuned in, it was encouraging to see a spirit of unity in the huge crowd assembled, and as he concluded his remarks: “Your presence was what I wanted.  Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder.  To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine.”

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Posted on October 31, 2010, in Tyler's occasional web log. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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