Driven to Defiance – Few if any men have changed the course of history like Martin Luther. In less than ten years, this fevered German monk plunged a knife into the heart of an empire that had ruled for a thousand years, and set in motion a train of revolution, war and conflict that would reshape Western civilization, and lift it out of the Dark Ages. Luther’s is a drama that still resonates half a millennium on. It’s an epic tale that stretches from the gilded corridors of the Vatican to the weathered church door of a small South German town, from the barbarous pyres of heretics to the technological triumph of printing. It is the story of the birth of the modern age, of the collapse of medieval feudalism, and the first shaping of ideals of freedom and liberty that lie at the heart of the 21st century. But this is also an intensely human tale, a story that hurtles from the depths of despair to the heights of triumph and back again. This is the story of a man who ultimately found himself a lightning conductor of history, crackling with forces he could not quite comprehend or control.
The Reluctant Revolutionary – When an obscure monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses – 95 stinging rebukes attacking the mighty Catholic Church, and its head, Pope Leo X to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral he unleashed a tornado. His ideas spread like wildfire, aided by the newly invented printing press. Finally he’s called before the German imperial parliament, in the city of Worms, and told he must recant. Risking torture and execution, Luther nevertheless refused and proclaimed his inalienable right to believe what he wished. His stand became a legend that then inspired a continent wide revolution, overturning the thousand year old domination of the Church. But as the reformation expanded into a movement for social freedom, Luther found himself overwhelmed by the pace of change. His theological reformation had become a social revolution. The epicenter of reform now moved swiftly away from Germany to Switzerland and Holland where Calvin and Knox founded societies based on Luther’s principles. To England, where it would take a bloody civil war before Cromwell could establish his Protestant democratic state and finally, to the newly discovered lands of America, where the Pilgrim Fathers would found their new nation on Luther’s foundations of religious freedom. But Luther never left his province in Germany again. Instead he married, an ex nun named Katharine von Bora, whom he had helped to escape from her nunnery and they had a large family together, Luther was able to devote himself to the simpler pleasures of life, gardening, music and of course, writing. Luther finally died in the year 1543, seized by a crippling heart attack but he held onto his righteousness and rage until the very end.