Monday, December 28, 2009

Some things never change...

Packing a church full of people is easy:

"It happened to Ambrosius. He was once told by his parishioners, after they had been admonished to hear the Word and the sermon: The truth is, dear pastor, that if you were to tap a keg of beer in the church and call us to enjoy it, we would be glad to come."

-- Martin Luther

HT: Discovering the Hope


Ted Badje said...

There is nothing new under the sun.

Bror Erickson said...

I have always wanted to try that tactic though, but many of my parishoners object to having beer at a church work party.

Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...

I'd like to see a more thorough attribution of that quote. Do you know where Luther wrote it? Was he speaking of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan? Where did Luther hear/find the anecdote?

The only remarks about the quote I can find are your blog and a couple of other blogs. I'd like a more detailed citation if you can find one.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Scott:

I ran across this reference:

Luther, W-T 3, #3663, WLS 1, #890, p. 303

I'm assuming that WLS is "What Luther Says" - which is a footnoted collection of quotes compiled by Ewald Plass. I have a copy, but not in front of me. My guess is that he was speaking of a contemporary pastor rather than St. Ambrose, as I understand the Italians were not too fond of beer as were the Barbarians (no offense, Germans, Gauls, and Anglos...).


Bror Erickson said...

While I agree with you that it was probably a contemporary, and probably not St. Ambrose of Milan, it still may have been possible for this man to have witnessed this problem as he was besought by the the Babarian Lombards (hence Lombardia, the name of that region in Itally) in his city, who had adopted Arianism with the rest of the Germanic hordes, (which is, I believe why Germans came to be known as Aryans, which took a darker turn in the last century.) But then some Germans prefer wine to beer, depending on the region. Italy tends to be a better wine producing area than beer, so even if they did like beer at that time it is not hard to see why they would switch preferences. Italian beer is nasty, almost worse than American mass produced swill. But I drank it....

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Bror:

I'm reading a historical novel called "Medicus" about a doctor attached to a Roman fort in Britannia. It is sort of a running joke that the Angles drank beer - and bad beer at that (American?) - much to the dismay of the Romans who were stationed there.

When I get back to my office, I'll run down the Luther quote and see if there is an explanation.

Now that would REALLY be an example of "plus ├ža change"!

Bror Erickson said...

Well I can imagine the Romans drank wine in Brittain, yet they would have paid dear for it, as England is not that great of a wine producing region. The English, who love wine, would rather support the French economy then drink English wine. They do a fair job with beer though.

Father Hollywood said...


The quote is indeed cited by Plass, page 303, citation #890. There is a footnote that says: "This apparently is one Ambrosius Neumann, a clergyman in a place called Colditz. If this identification is correct, Luther's comment is of 1534." Plass cites his source as "W-T , No. 3663."

"W-T" refers to the Table Talk (Tischreden), the Weimar Edition. If I remember correctly, I think the Weimar Edition of Luther's Works is now available online.