Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague

“In the summer of 1527, the plague swept through Europe once again. But this time, it fell upon a society deeply divided—“polarized,” we would say—by the events of the Protestant Reformation. On top of all the old fears of death and social breakdown, perceptions of the disease were filtered through new layers of mistrust rooted in religious difference. Both sides gleefully seized on examples of cowardice and other missteps to paint their enemies in the worst possible light.
By August of that year, the first victims of the plague were dying in the city of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther and his colleagues were laboring. Just like many recent governments have done, the Elector John “the Steadfast” ordered a series of dramatic measures to combat the plague, including ordering the faculty of the University of Wittenberg to relocate to another city. Luther refused to leave.
By the time the plague died down in Wittenberg in the fall of that year, Luther was being criticized on both sides. Luther responded in an open letter titled, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.” (villageanglicanchurch.com)

The heart of Luther’s response is as follows:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

God Bless, Rick

What About Patriotism?

The Apostle Paul told us that our citizenship is in heaven, and we readily acknowledge such. But what about patriotism? Wilfred McClay offers some insight into the place of patriotism in Land of Hope.

“There is a strong tendency in modern American society to treat patriotism as a dangerous sentiment, a passion to be guarded against. But this is a serious misconception. To begin with, we should acknowledge that there is something natural about patriotism, as an expression of love for what is one’s own, gratitude for what one has been given, and reverence for the sources of one’s being. These responses are instinctive; they’re grounded in our natures and the basic facts of our birth. Yet their power is no less for that, and they are denied only at great cost.

“There is (however) a vital tension in the makeup of American patriotism, a tension between its universalizing ideals and its particularizing sentiments, with their emphasis upon memory, history, tradition, culture, and the land. The genius of American patriotism permits both to coexist, and even to be harmonized to a considerable extent, therefore making them both available to be drawn upon in the rich, but mixed, phenomenon of American patriotism. It would be a mistake to insist on one while excluding the other. They both are always in conversation with one another, and they need to be. And that conversation, to be a real and honest one, must include the good, the bad, and the ugly, the way we have failed and fallen short, not merely what is pleasing to our national self-esteem. But by the same token, the great story, the thread that we share, should not be lost in a blizzard of details or a hailstorm of rebukes. This is, and remains, a land of hope, a land to which much of the rest of the world longs to come.”

As we fulfill our duty and privilege as Americans to vote into office those we deem able to best lead us, let’s not be afraid to acknowledge our flaws, nor the desire for America to be what God has enabled her to be for over 200 years.

God Bless, Rick

PS. Last Sunday Caleb Luzio requested that we sing The Star Spangled Banner. Since I was leading, I was keeping my eyes in the hymnal, so much so that when I looked up after the song was finished, only then did I notice that everyone was standing with their hand over their heart. Obviously patriotism is not a problem at CCC.