Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Notes From My Knapsack 5-7-06
Jeff Gill

Headin’ Outside

Next weekend, on Saturday May 13, the Licking County Coalition for Housing will join their friends and supporters in a Golf Outing.
As a non-golfer, I still don’t understand entirely what that means, but apparently golf is even more fun when you are a) helping a worthy charity, b) whacking away with friends to mock your swing (or cheer you on, occasionally), and c) doing it with dozens of others in front of you and behind you to cheer and deride your time spent in those little sandy pits around the green.
If this sounds fun and exciting to you, or if you want to sponsor a portion of the day – I’m told people actually like putting advertising up next to some of the more popular bunkers, where a few spend more time than on the tee – call LCCH at 344-1970, and they’ll set you up.
The Links at Echo Springs is hosting the affair, and they promise green grass and tawny sands; apparently the weather is up to (full disclosure) the members of the bord.
Up and over across the county at Flint Ridge State Memorial, where the museum will open weekends at the end of the month, school field trips from all over the state are arriving, bright yellow buses carrying squadrons of lunch-clutching kids.
These days, most of our visitors are 4th grade students, in line with the all-powerful state proficiency standards, which put Ohio history in that year. A few adventurous 5th grade teachers still bring groups, and we get the stray older youth contingent, but the bulk of our group tour traffic this time of year is either 4th graders or senior citizens rambling the continent.
Jim Kingery, site manager for the Ohio Historical Society, has no word on when the Great Circle unit of Newark Earthworks State Memorial will have a museum facility again, but the old "Fairgrounds Circle" on Rt. 79 between Newark and Heath is open for picnics and some limited tours by arrangement (344-1919).
Those of us who volunteer with the sites to support the school tours get to meet kids and teachers from not only Licking County school districts, but Franklin, Perry, Fairfield, Muskingum, and Athens Counties, along with an annual visit from a school up in the Cleveland area on their way to the Statehouse and the Ohio Historical Center.
Over the last couple years we’ve met contingents from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New York. And those are just the ones who have made specific arrangements for a formal tour!
Often, while I’m waiting for a school bus to show up at Great Circle or Flint Ridge, a car will appear with a couple or family traveling from point A to point B who thought they’d stop along the way. We offer them what we can, and just in recent months I’ve given impromptu tours to visitors from Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida, Oklamhoma, Louisiana, and Missouri. All to folks who drove out of their way to see our world famous 2000 year old earthworks.
Flint Ridge is a bit more off the beaten path, but still near the interstate, and well marked off of both I-70 and Rt. 40. Coming soon is the "World’s Longest Yard Sale" effort along the old National Road, from Cumberland, Maryland to . . . well, it’s going through Licking County, and may not end in Illinois but it will go at least that far, or so I hear from Doug Smith.
Along with being our newest county commissioner, Doug has been a student and teacher of the National Road and its lore. Efforts to promote this scenic and historic byway often involve him, and he and Charla Devine of Devine Farms have been active in promoting this Memorial Day weekend event. More to come . . .
Any route you may drive out to Flint Ridge takes you up and up, and winds around for good measure, but get a driver and switch with them when you get to the ridge and let them watch out the windows on the way back. Redbuds and dogwood are blossoming out all over; trillium on shady hillsides and fire pinks standing above swaths of spring beauties along the ridgetops.
Even though the daffodils and crocuses are fading, a new crop of native wildflowers and flowering trees is coming into season. A few more weeks, and yellow or tulip poplars will blossom up in the canopy a hundred feet above; watch at your feet for their falling petals.
Forsythia is dropping her yellow for a more staid green; we not only had next to no winter, we didn’t even have a snow after the forsythia bloomed.
But frost-free is another week away, so hold onto those tomato plants on top of the refrigerator! Even in a warm year like this, a quick freeze in mid-May is perfectly possible . . . as long as it isn’t the morning of the LCCH Golf Outing!

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he doesn’t golf, but he’d be happy to mention your good cause’s golf event if you tell him through disciple@voyager.net.
Faith Works 5-6-06
Jeff Gill

Was Luther a Lutheran?

On the Eve of All Saints’ Day, 1517, Martin Luther uploaded his blog to the internet.
Er, he got a full page ad in the Wittenberg, Germany area Gannett newspaper.
No? Well, maybe he sent a direct mail flier with his detailed list of concerns to a targeted group of opinion shapers in the local zip code?
Of course none of that is correct; many of you know that the soon-to-be former Augustinian monk and priest and professor nailed his 95 theses, or points of dispute with Roman Catholic theology and practice, to the door of Wittenberg Church, next door to the Castle.
Nailing your thoughts to a church door sounds dramatic and picturesque, but for Martin Luther’s time and place, with Gutenberg’s printing press still an innovation and communication the province of the wealthy and influential, the best way to let average Joe, or Johannes, to get in on the debate was to post your theses on the public square. There they’d be next to the list of the banns, or who proposed to marry in the next few weeks, the property transfers, and memorial notices.
Sounds like the first few pages of the Advocate, doesn’t it? And that’s the point: many read the paper daily to see who’s getting hitched (or un-), who bought what parcel of land, and if their name is in the obituaries. As some of us say, if we aren’t listed in the "Death Notices," then we can have breakfast and move on.
So Martin Luther wanted to be on the editorial board, and write an Op-Ed, and even wanted feedback. "Hier stehe ich," as he was later to say, "Here I stand," "Ich kann nicht anders," – "I can do no other."
A movie was recently in theaters which starred Joseph Fiennes, who played the title role in "Shakespeare In Love." Titled simply "Luther," the viewing is worth it if only for the sight of Alberto Molina, actor with Diego Rivera and Doctor Octopus to his credit, playing Johannes Tetzel, a Dominican monk who is often and maybe even fairly blamed for precipitating Luther’s break with Rome.
Including the dramatic if ahistorical line "every coin in coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs" (it was used, but not by Tetzel), you see the hard-sell fund raising techniques used by those working to build a new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. You’ve heard of church splits over building fund campaigns? Well, this was the mother of all campaigns, and it began the mother of all Christian divisions, the Protestant Reformation.
Luther did have much to protest about abuses in the organized church of his day, but his original desire was to reform, not revolt. Likewise, the Catholic Church needed reformation, and soon embarked on a renewal campaign called the
Counter-Reformation, with many bishops and cardinals agreeing at the Council of Trent that their church must change.
But by then it was too late for those changes to be negotiated between the factions, for reasons both theological and political. The involvement of the infamously named "Holy Roman Empire" (as Gibbon noted, neither holy, nor Roman, and not even an empire) precipitated open warfare, and Luther’s conviction that priests should marry and the people should not only read scripture in their own language but – oh, the horror! – sing in worship, created a communion that was no longer in communion with the Bishop of Rome.
Were they Lutheran, though? Well, that’s what we call them, though it would no doubt sadden Martin. The German Church, with bishops of their own people and a separate but cooperative relationship with the civil authority, was reformed by Luther in a way that was different than his neighbor to the south, in Geneva, Switzerland, organized church and state. The rise of John Calvin and his Reformed Church helped cement the idea of "Lutherans" and "Calvinists" within the Reformation, each protesting in their own way.
Thirty years of warfare resulted in a stability Luther was never to see in his lifetime, with Catholicism resurgent in the south, especially around Munich.
The form of state Protestantism known as Lutheran spread north to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, and much of the Baltic region. Many Lutheran churches in this country have a strong ethnic component from one of those countries.
There are also some well known faith communities in this country springing from groups that protested the protesters, when the Lutheran Reformation became the official state church. We’ll look at those next week, in part four of this series.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; contact him at disciple@voyager.net.