For most people October the 31st means one thing – Halloween. However, it would be a bit silly to assume that throughout history nothing else happened on this date. On October the 31st 1942 Mount Rushmore was completed; on October the 31st 1922 Mussolini was made Prime Minister of Italy; and on October the 31st 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This was the defining event that many historians consider the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Now, I’ve studied my fair bit of early modern history. Therefore, by default, I have naturally studied the Reformation. It’s not exactly an easy thing to get your head around at all, especially when you throw your Calvins and your Zwinglis into the mix with Luther. You learn the big dates, the important things – but the rest of it just kind of blurs into one.
What you really need is a light and easily accessible book that breaks down Luther, his life and his role in the Protestant Reformation. That’s where The Real Martin Luther by Josh Hamon comes in. The Real Martin Luther takes a fearlessly light-hearted look at the man behind the 95 Theses in a graphic-novel like manner.
The author lives with his wife and three kids in Seattle. Hisdoryan managed to catch up with him and ask him a few questions about his book;
– Hi Josh. Great to meet you. What inspired you to write this book?
Of all the strange reasons to do anything, the book is partially a response to my current lifestyle of ferry commuting and partially me trying to combine a few things I really love: reading, comics and learning.
– Why Martin Luther?
Don’t tell anyone, but he wasn’t my first choice. I initially proposed a different person altogether but as the publishing team talked through the desire to have a series instead of just a book, my first idea needed to take a back seat. Instead of a book, the series needed a focus beyond the individual. Here is where the Holy Misfits concept was born. There are 2.2 billion people who call themselves Christians and they can’t agree on one single thing. Each denomination and tribe has their venerated heroes, everyone else’s supposed heroes only get a healthy dose of side eye.
Which means everyone has something to learn, their own heroes are only human, and everyone else’s heroes might just be worth a second glance. They are all holy misfits, but back to Martin Luther. 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation (possibly) with Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg.
– Are you planning another book in the Holy Misfits series?
I wouldn’t want to spoil things but while book two is about another Holy Misfit, it’s not about another white Protestant man.
– In the course of your research for the book, what did you discover that surprised you most about Martin Luther?
This isn’t a short list. One of the big ones is how different he was from the other major Protestant Reformers. He loved music, respected his wife, and thought being a dad didn’t men being an occasional babysitter.
– If you could sum Martin Luther up in 3 words, what would they be?
Fearful made bold
It wasn’t him
Human Honest Hubris
Not Enough Words
Bold Depressed Helped
– Who would play Martin Luther in a film of his life?
It depends somewhat on when in his life we’re taking about. Edward Norton for a younger Luther? Dan Aykroyd for an older?
– And finally, your ideal historic dinner party guests?
I can’t imagine I have a consistent answer for this one. Mark Twain, CS Lewis, and Neil Gaiman. (Yes Mr. Gaiman is alive.)
Now, having read the book I can assure you you are in for an entertaining ride. The Real Martin Luther is written in a funny, friendly and informative tone, and I have learnt so much about Luther that I didn’t know before. For example, did you know that Luther suffered from depression? And also, there are major questions over whether he actually nailed his 95 theses to the door at all! #mindblown
The Real Martin Luther is readily accessible, full of pop culture references, and written in short, snappy chapters. One word of warning though – if you’re after a proper historical text full of footnotes and references, than this is not the book for you.
So tonight as you celebrate All Hallow’s Eve and service the hordes of trick and treaters, spare a thought for the real Martin Luther and take a second to remember how, on October the 31st 1517, he changed the course of world religion forever.