Playmobil’s Fastest Selling Toy Ever Is…Martin Luther?

This is simply too good to be true.

A good friend informed me last night that German toymaker Playmobil sold out of the first run of the Martin Luther figure in record time.

"You'd be smiling too if you've been dead for nearly 500 years and was made into a record selling toy figure." (Photo by Playmobil)

“Umm, about those royalties…” (Photo by Playmobil)

My disbelief turned to giddy excitement when I later learned or remembered:

  1. That demand is high enough for Playmobil to make a Luther figurine;
  2. That I am mostly of German descent;
  3. That I was raised Lutheran;
  4. That I’m still unashamedly and happily Protestant;
  5. That I’m a happy Protestant;
  6. That a friend knew I cared enough about Luther for him to inform me of this phenomenon;
  7. That Playmobil is making a second batch of Luther figurines due in April;
  8. That my doll will soon have a suitable companion.

Read about Playmobil’s Martin Luther Reformation ripple-effect here.

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Not What, But Why, Christ Suffered

We should not center our attention, however, upon what Christ suffered but rather why he suffered, and the answer is “for my imgres-1sake.” I am the one who by my sins have deserved that God be my enemy and mock me, even when I cry that the sun should no more shine, the earth no more bear me, and the rocks be rent.

When sins are made plain and the conscience is touched, then a man finds out all that Christ suffered here. Then he, too, will say, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Therefore, everything that Christ suffered is to be referred to our souls, and the more we exalt the Passion the more clearly do we see our own condemnation.

Martin Luther’s Easter Book, ed. Roland Bainton, p. 79

 

 

Confessions of a Lapsed Lutheran: An Appreciation

My nearly 102 year old grandmother died last week.

The last time we had regular conversation was 10 years ago, before she began losing her memory. She often asked me if I was going to be a Lutheran pastor. My answers repeatedly, and resoundingly, disappointed her.

imgres-3Some context: my grandmother was baptized, confirmed and raised Lutheran, married a Swedish immigrant in a Lutheran church, was involved in various women’s circles, and finally had her funeral in the same Lutheran church. For my grandmother, when Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) those three things were found only in a Lutheran church, and none other. A Christianity outside of the Lutheran church? Unthinkable.

As I grew older, I eventually shed the Lutheranism (ELCA) of my youth. It was increasingly theologically liberal, socially progressive and seemingly devoid of an explicit gospel message, often displaced by fuzzy theology and entertainingly cute stories. This was the Lutheranism I remember—“Luther-lite,” one that Luther himself would scantly recognize. The years have taken a greater toll on the ELCA, and I have little hope things will improve.

But however valid my concerns for the ELCA, my grandmother’s passing provides fitting occasion to articulate what I did appreciate from my Lutheran heritage:

  • Liturgy: Every week out of that forest green hymnal we had a rhythm of corporate confession of sin and pardon, affirmation of the faith, etc.
  • Creeds: Every week we corporately recited the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed.
  • Hymnody: Instead of singing contemporary praise songs (quite popular in the 70’s with the Jesus Movement), we sang traditional and well-known hymns, many of them with theological fiber.
  • Weekly Communion: The significance of the Lord’s Supper was unmistakable. I even took a class on Communion’s importance, albeit from a distinctly Lutheran perspective.
  • Catechism: I was taught the essentials of the faith in Sunday School and Confirmation. Here is where I learned the biblical narrative rife with compelling stories, along with core biblical content.

I did these things weekly. Yes, at times they became rote. And I’m unsure how many of the congregants really believed what we were doing, saying, singing and praying. However, in hindsight I see how the Lord used my growing up Lutheran, even with all of my present misgivings, to lay basic yet crucial building blocks that would later be honed and refined.

martinluther_300

And even though I’m no longer Lutheran, many of the above attributes are things I highly nvalue today, albeit from a (chastened) Reformed perspective: liturgy, creeds, hymnody, weekly Communion and catechism. Indeed, many evangelical churches would do well to incorporate the best of these aspects into the fabric of their church life, without fearing that they will end up Lutheran or like any of the other liberal mainline denominations. (With due apologies to any Missouri Synod readers, who are screaming “Don’t forget about us! We’re Lutheran too!”)

So as I lay down to bed for the night, with my Luther bobblehead doll keeping watch on my burgeoning bookshelf, I thank God for my grandmother and for the best aspects of Lutheranism she embodied.

And I also pray that the Lutheran church she knew and loved will remember, repent and return not only to Luther’s primary tenets of justification by faith alone by grace alone, in Christ alone and the primacy of the Scriptures, but to Luther’s Christ, who is the only way, the truth and the life—for all of us.

Even for this former Lutheran.

Cigars, Pipes, Beer, Food…and Luther? Jawohl! It Must Be a Reformation Party!

Marty would be proud.

Yesterday I received this e-mail:

Join us in celebrating the solas of the Reformation and be encouraged by other men in the faith once Imagedelivered! As always, we will be recognizing the true catholicity of the Church, which is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Food and good beer provided.

Cigars and pipes are welcome but not required for entry!

The event takes place on November 1st here in Minneapolis, technically a day after Reformation Day. But hey, who’s quibbling?

I’m planning on attending. As your loyal and inquisitive beat reporter, I’ll write about how a party celebrating the five solas went down.

Cigars? Pipes? Beer? (And not just your average beer, but “good” beer.) Food? And Luther? Count me in, if only to witness firsthand such an event.

(And I wonder: What would a female equivalent of such a celebration entail?)