For students studying Martin Luther in English, one of the most challenging problems is which edition or translation of his works to use, and, often before discerning even that, students must first discover which of the copious volumes of Luther in English has the selected work. With several new critical editions of Luther's writings being published just in time for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (October 31, 2017), it has become even more of a chore for students to wade through hundreds of volumes in their school's library (or at least, juggle five or six different indices) to find the work they are looking for. The two most frequently used indices of the so-called American Edition of Luther's Works--Vol. 55 and Vogel's Cross-Reference--are now both made out of date by the expansion of the American Edition to include over twenty new volumes, not to mention the other frequently used English-language versions that have been published in the past twenty years.
It is for this reason that I created an online spreadsheet index of Luther's works in English. Currently included in my spreadsheet index are five English language collections of Luther's works plus their location in the now complete and authoritative original language Luthers Werke (often nicknamed the Weimar Ausgabe; 1883-2009), for those students and scholars who can make use of comparing the English language translations to their original Latin and German. In addition to the spreadsheet, I have included below a short summary of the editions included on the spreadsheet, which I hope will help students in making a decision of which source to select for reading Luther.
How to Access and Use the Spreadsheet
First, follow this link: Luther's Works in English Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is on Google Sheets, but you do not need a Google account to access or use it.
When you get to the page, you will see something like this:
You will notice that there are several categories:
Title is the title of the work by Luther. Please note that some works have various titles depending on the translation; in cases of variation, I tried to use the more well-known title.
Date is the year in which the work was composed.
WA refers to Luthers Werke or the Weimar Ausgabe, as it's commonly called.
LW refers to Luther's Works, or as it is sometimes called, the American Edition.
TAL refers to The Annotated Luther.
SWML refers to Selected Writings of Martin Luther.
PE refers to the Philadelphia Edition, sometimes called the Holman Edition.
BTW refers to Basic Theological Writings.
Other is pretty sparse now, expect to see updates here, but it contains notes or other commonly used editions of Luther's works that are too small to get their own column.
For more information about the six editions of Luther's works (plus my slightly biased opinion of which is best), check below.
This spreadsheet can also be sorted by any of the first eight columns. For instance, if you want to sort Luther's works by date, you can click on the filter icon, click the sort by date, and the spreadsheet will be arranged by the second column.
In the above picture, the filter icon is directly under edit and next to the print icon. Click on the filter icon and you will have eight filters by which you can sort the spreadsheet. Sorting by title will sort Luther's works alphabetically by title; sorting by date will sort his works chronologically; sorting by the remaining six filters will display where to find that work in whichever edition you select. Note: due to how Google Sheets works, dates that appear as a range, such as Luther's Genesis Lectures which were lectured over a ten year period from 1535-1545, appear at the end. Additionally, I do not use the definite article or indefinite articles (the/a/an) in titles to make the alphabetizing function easier. You can also use the ctrl+ f or command+f function in most internet browsers to search for a specific work.
If you wanted to do a comparison of translations of "The Ninety-Five Theses," or, perhaps you are hoping to purchase a volume of Luther that contains "The Ninety-Five Theses" but are not sure which volume or which edition to purchase, you can search the document by title using the "Sort by Title" function then scroll down until you see "Ninety-Five Theses."
You will find "Ninety-Five Theses (Disputation for Clarifying the Power of Indulgences)" with the date it was written, 1517, in the first two columns. You then can see that it is in the first volume of WA, TAL, SWML, and PE, in addition to being in volume 31 of LW and included in BTW. In the other section, you will also see that there is another recently published volume titled Martin Luther's 95 Theses, published by Augsburg Fortress in 2015.
Hopefully this resource will be helpful for students, pastors, and teachers! If there are any collections of Luther's works in English that are currently not included but that you think should be, let me know (you can click on the contact link on the top right of my webpage) and I will do my best to track it down and add it (just know it might take a little time for me to do so). Additionally, I consider this spreadsheet to be an ongoing work-in-progress, at least for the time being, so you'll probably see semi-regular updates and corrections as time goes on.
About the Various Versions of Luther
Luthers Werke--Weimar Ausgabe (1883-2009)
The first on the spreadsheet and probably the most important collection of Luther's works is Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtaugabe (1883-2009), nicknamed Weimarer Ausgabe, and commonly abbreviated WA. Nearly every English language translation of Luther's works is translated from the WA, as it is the most complete, comprehensive, and critical edition of Luther's works in their original Latin and German. Or, to borrow a term found in music, this would be the urtext edition of Luther's works. The 100+ volumes of WA are divided into four sections: the writings (Schriften), 73 volumes; the letters (Briefwechsel--abbreviated Br), 18 volumes; the German Bible (Deutsche Bibel--abbreviated DB), 12 volumes; and the table talks (Tischreden--abbreviated TR), 6 volumes. Some of the volumes (for instance, WA 10) are further divided into bands that are indicated by a superscript roman numeral; however, for the sake of simplicity in the spreadsheet, I did not indicate further subdivision within bands. Just as in English, but to an even greater extent, there are copious other editions of Luther's works in German and Latin (the St. Louis Edition is one that was frequently cited in older English language translations of Luther), ranging from new critical editions to poorly edited collections. However, WA is almost always cited in academic works that quote from the original language works of Luther, even if other editions were used. I therefore thought it helpful to include the WA volumes in the spreadsheet. One final note--nearly the entirety of Luthers Werke (WA) is available online for free in a searchable database, making it easy for students to access Luther's writings in their original languages. For the purposes of this spreadsheet, I only have included works in the WA that are also available in one of the five English collections.
Luther's Works (1955-1986)
The American Edition of Luther's Works, commonly abbreviated LW, were published between 1955 and 1986 as a joint effort by Concordia Publishing House (vol. 1-30) and Fortress Press (vol. 31-55). This is the most complete collection of Luther's writings available in English. Most of the translations were based on WA, though some were revisions of a previous English language collection: the Philadelphia Edition (PE) of Luther's works (see below). Notably absent from these 55 volumes were the Large and Small Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles, though these were all published separately as part of the Book of Concord edited by Tappert in the 1970s (though I would recommend the Kolb/Wengert edited 2000 edition of the Book of Concord). This collection remains the most well-known, quoted, and authoritative collection of Luther in English; indeed, almost any English language published paper quoting Luther will contain either a reference to LW or WA, often both. In 2009, Concordia Publishing House began an expansion of the series, with the intention of adding over 25 new volumes to Luther's Works (see below). Additionally, the original 55 volumes are available electronically through the Logos software program on compact disc. I do not know at this time if Concordia will make the expansion available through Logos or not.
Selected Writings of Martin Luther (1967, revised 2009)
The four volume Selected Writings of Martin Luther (abbreviated SWML) was edited and put together by Theodore G. Tappert in order to serve the need of the average student and pastor, as the 55 volume (soon to be 80+) Luther's Works is too unwieldy and pricey a collection for the average student and pastor and the six volume Philadelphia Edition (PE, see below) was out of print and becoming harder to find. Tappert's solution was to create a four volume, affordable essential Luther. At the time of its first publication in the 1960s, I believe the majority of the translations were from the PE, but it was republished in 2009 by Fortress Press with the vast majority of the translations from LW. Even the 2009 edition is now out of print, as I think Fortress Press intends The Annotated Luther (above) to serve the middle ground between LW and one volume Luther or Reformation readers (such as Basic Theological Writings, below). This nevertheless was a popular set when I was in seminary (2008-2012), so I thought it would be useful to include it in the spreadsheet for those who own a copy of SWML.
Works of Martin Luther--The Philadelphia Edition (1915)
The Works of Martin Luther, often called the Philadelphia Edition (abbreviated PE) or the Holman Edition, is a six volume collection of some of Luther's most famous works (though, oddly enough, it leaves out some of what many modern-day readers of Luther would consider essential, like Bondage of the Will or Two Kinds of Righteousness). This edition was used as the basis for the initial version of SWML and some of the works included in LW (above). These were one of the first large collections of Luther translated into English. These volumes have been out of print for decades, though they can be found for free online through Google books and other sites. I included this collection primarily because it appears frequently in the footnotes of LW and SWML.
Feel free to share the link to this blogpost or to the spreadsheet, but include attribution to me, the author, if you post the spreadsheet link. It is preferred that you link to this blogpost instead of simply sharing the link to the spreadsheet since this blogpost contains my rationale, how to use the spreadsheet, and information about the sources included. If you have any suggestions or notice any errors, please feel free to contact me using the contact tab on this webpage. This spreadsheet is a work of love, so please understand if it takes me a while to respond.
It's not often that I preach any more. It's something I miss from my days of seminary, so I was delighted when the pastor of the congregation that I attend asked me to preach on Reformation Sunday. I didn't want to just tell the story of Martin Luther or the 95 Theses. Instead, I wanted to give a look at the legacy of the Reformation as we approach the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses. It is important to note that in my sermon, I focused on the positive legacy the Reformation had, but I do want to be clear, as I am clear in my teaching of the Reformation, that the Reformation's legacy isn't all good--there's some nasty stuff that Luther and the church that he accidentally founded have done (and continue to do). But the purpose of this sermon was to instead talk about the positive legacy the Reformation movement had and continues to have. One final note about the sermon: toward the end, I mention five young women who shared their faith statements--we held confirmation today during the service and our five confirmands, all young women, shared their beautifully written faith statements in the bulletin.
I want to tell you a story this morning. Well, it’s three small stories, but they all form part of one, larger story. It’s the story of the Reformation.
We begin on this very day, October 30th, 499 years ago, in a small room of the Black Cloister in Wittenberg, where a preacher, friar, and teacher by the name of Martin Luther sat at his scriptorium and furiously wrote a list of ninety-five arguments against what he saw as the unjust practice of selling forgiveness. Luther saw the poor of his town being stripped of their wealth by the church and empty promises of forgiveness, and it made him angry. You can hear the anger when he writes, “Christians are to be taught that the one who gives to a poor person or lends to the needy does a better deed than if a person acquires indulgences because love grows through works of love and a person is made better; but through indulgences one is not made better but only freer from penalty of sin,” (Theses #43-44) and, “Christians are to be taught that if the pope knows the demands made by the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the Basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than it be constructed using the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep” (Theses #50). Strong words. But you can also see the compassion Luther had for his people: “Any true Christian, living or dead, possesses a God-given share in all the benefits of Christ and the church, even without indulgence letters” (Theses #37). And, as the legend tells us, 499 years ago from tomorrow [October 31], Martin Luther nailed his theses on the door of St. Mary’s Chapel in Wittenberg, hoping to spark a debate over the sale of indulgences, but instead accidentally sparking the Protestant Reformation.
Here’s another story. Two thousand years ago a man named Paul wrote a letter to the Christian church in Rome. Paul was responding, in part, to an ongoing controversy in the early church. You see, Jesus and his first disciples were all Jewish. When Christianity spread out of Jerusalem and the surrounding region, it became a huge issue as to whether or not people who were not Jewish—who the Bible calls Gentiles—would be allowed to be Christian. Paul is responding to that controversy when he writes in his letter to the Romans, just a few verses before what we read today: “What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin: ‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one’” (Romans 3:9-10). Paul goes on to write that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith” (Romans 3:23-25a). All have sinned, every single one of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But (and this is a very important but), all are now justified by his grace through Jesus.
Fifteen hundred years later, Martin Luther read the very text we read today in church and he had an epiphany, what he calls his tower experience because it happened when he was in the tower of the Black Cloister in Wittenberg. You see, for much of Luther’s early life, he struggled with the belief that he wasn’t good enough. That he was too much of a sinner, that he could never receive God’s love and forgiveness because he was too broken. But then, reading Romans, Luther came across Paul’s words: “the righteous live by faith” (Romans 1:17) and the part we read today: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.” The spirit spoke through those ancient words to Luther. She spoke to his heart. Those words taught him, as they teach us today, no matter what, no matter who you are, no matter what life throws your way, no matter how many chances you are given and how much you screw it up, God loves you and God forgives you.
And so, Luther found himself captive to that same message of grace and forgiveness 499 years ago as he prepared his 95 theses when he wrote that indulgences are “least of all when compared to the grace of God and the goodness of the cross.”
Another part of the story. My brother died when he was eighteen. It was unexpected, sudden, and without warning. I was a senior in college at the time and missed two weeks of school and when I returned back to college I returned with a part of my heart buried with my brother. Fast forward two years and I was in my second year of seminary. This was 2009, just two months after the ELCA decided that the LGBTQ community, people like me, could be ordained ministers while in a same-sex monogamous publically accountable relationship. I went into seminary with the intention of either having to hide my true self, hide who God had knit me to be in my mother’s womb, or to risk not being able to be ordained, what I felt at the time was who God was calling me to be. And when the 2009 decision was made, any celebration was quickly quelled because it caused so much controversy in the seminary. You know, people say the meanest, most hurtful things, when they don’t realize who they’re talking about is sitting in the room with them. I cannot tell you how many times someone would say to me that who I am was somehow sinful, somehow less than them, and yet, they always, always refused to look me in the eye when they said those things.
In addition to taking a full load of courses and working in a teaching parish, I also was a chaplain for CPE—clinical pastoral education—in the dementia unit of a nursing home. The stress combined with grief over the loss of my brother just two short years previously meant that I threw myself into my work. I was beginning to feel so defeated, so broken, so hurt. There’s only so much of being told you’re unworthy of God’s love and grace by “being an unrepentant sinner” before even the strongest among us breaks down… even if it’s just a small part of you that believes it, the nagging voice in your head that is telling you, “You are not good enough, you are not worthy of this love.”
But then, one day I was driving to my parent’s home from a particularly rough day at the nursing home and suddenly I just started crying. It was nearing the two-year anniversary of my brother’s death. Grief over the loss of my brother and the feeling of not being good enough welled up deep within me until it burst in a tidal wave of tears. I was ugly crying if you know what I mean.
And suddenly, suddenly, in that instant, everything made sense. All of us are broken, all of us are hurting, all of us carry grief and sorrow and pain and heartache, all of us carry sins and demons with us. Paul spoke frequently of his struggles with his demons, and Luther’s struggles with his lead him to his tower epiphany, and lead him to write a collection of 95 theses. My epiphany wasn’t in a tower, it was in a car. All of us are broken, but it is the God who died on the cross that is present with us, that is loving us, that is holding our broken pieces together… that is the God that Paul and Luther proclaimed. And in that moment in the car, I suddenly, for the first time in my life—and I was born and raised Lutheran, mind you—I suddenly for the first time knew what grace was.
So I continued home to my family—there used to be five of us and now we were a very broken four. So I sat in my car on the two-hour trip, literal and figurative streams of mercy surrounding me—all around me. I realized that I was a part of the Reformation story. I had my own story to tell. A story of loss, of hope, of grace. And that’s what the Reformation is about, isn’t it?
I’ve never heard the words of Reformation more beautifully told than in the words of author Lidia Yuknavitch: “even at the moment of your failure, right then, you are beautiful. You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That’s your beauty."
Our heritage, our reformation heritage, is one of endless reinvention. One of beauty, one of grace, one of standing up to oppression no matter what the cost. I want to tell you that story. And most importantly, I want to tell you that you, every single one of you in here, you, yes you, are a part of that story.
I want to tell you the story of a monk who saw the injustice of the people and the corruption of the church and accidentally started the Reformation by nailing his trust that God’s grace is for all Christians to a church door, of a man who believed so strongly that God’s message of grace is for all that when he was asked to recant his beliefs or face the possibility of being burned as a heretic, he said “Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me, Amen.” I want to tell you the story of Katy Luther, who risked her life escaping a convent in a fish barrel. I want to tell you about two noble women, Elizabeth von Brandenburg and her daughter Elisabeth von Braunschweig, who risked their very lives to bring Lutheranism to their territories. Or how about Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary, the oldest Lutheran seminary in the Western Hemisphere, that was a stop on the underground railroad? That opened its doors to be a hospital to union and confederate soldiers during the Civil War? That was the first Lutheran seminary to educate a black man, a man by the name of Alexander Payne in 1837? The first American Lutheran seminary to ordain a woman, Elizabeth Platz, in 1970?
How about I tell you about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, when Nazi Germany started persecuting the Jewish people, was one of the first and only pastors to stand up on their behalf—a man who built a new seminary in secret and who was martyred just days before the end of the second World War because he dared to stand up against injustice? I could tell you the story of Seminex, a seminary in exile because the students and faculty thought that they should be free to learn contemporary biblical scholarship against the wishes of their board of directors. Or how about the ELCA, who in 2009 decided to open the ranks of ordained ministry to the LGBTQ community in loving relationships. I could tell you the story of #DecolonizeLutheranism, a conference that was held in Chicago just last week that is dedicated to the belief that Luther’s message of grace goes beyond German and Scandinavian culture and is truly for all people? What about the story of Lutheran World Relief, one of the top rated charities in the world, that was among the first organizations to respond to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti because they never left after the Haitian earthquake? What if I told you about Soren Kierkegaard, Steve Jobs, Johann Sebastian Bach, Garrison Keillor, all Lutherans who have forever changed the world for the better?
What if I tell you about this church, Faith Lutheran Church of Castro Valley, that recently named one of its top priorities running a food pantry for the community? What if I told you the story of five young women who are about to stand before this community and confirm their faith, who have each written beautiful and inspiring statements of faith that show they believe that God’s grace is truly, truly for everyone?
You see, this is our legacy. This is who we are. We are the people of the Reformation, and that same reforming spirit continues to move through this very church—though we may sometimes sit with clenched teeth and folded arms resisting with all our might—that reforming spirit that led a monk to nail his theses to a door 499 years ago continues to move and call us to reform the world. This is our legacy; this is our heritage. We are children of the Reformation, each and every one of us. So, let us go out and set the world on fire [St. Ignatius]. Amen.
Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day. In honor of this day, I want to take a break from my usual fare of coffee and theology to talk about two subjects very near to my heart: superheroes and the queer community.
10. Superheroes have a secret identity
Everyone knows that superheroes have a secret identity, even if they've never seen a superhero movie or picked up a comic book in their life. Superman is mild mannered reporter Clark Kent, Batman is billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is photographer Peter Parker. Most superheroes have secret identities so that they can fit in, live "normal" lives, and keep themselves and those they love safe. from those that would do them harm. For Superman, Clark Kent's glasses become the mask he wears to during his daily life--it is only when the mask comes off that he can truly make use of his phenomenal powers without fear of being outed.
Being queer is similar. We live in a society where "normal" means straight and cisgender (identifying as the same sex/gender that you were assigned at birth). We hear on the news constantly about how LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer) people are at higher risk of hate crimes that sometimes even results in death. There was a deadly shooting in Orlando at a gay club this past summer which killed 49 LGBTIQ people and allies and wounded another 50. Many of us LGBTIQ people do not have support networks and worry that their families would disown them, kick them out, or cut off financial or emotional support. Protections to prevent workplace discrimination for LGBTIQ vary by state and there is little national protection, meaning that many of us can get fired simply for being who they are. For these reasons, many LGBTIQ people live "in the closet." We keep our queer identities secret from work, from our families (and sometimes even from ourselves), only letting a few trusted people know our true selves. Just like Clark Kent, many of us LGBTIQ people wear "masks" to protect our true identity. For many of us, it is only in certain safe places where the mask can come off and we can let our true selves shine. And our secret identities often are necessary and nothing to be ashamed of. We don't live in a world yet where it is safe for us to be who we truly are, so sometimes that means having to live with a secret identity. It's hard work to do--just watch any superhero movie where the superhero struggles balancing their superhero life with their secret identity life. But it's okay to have a secret identity, let no one tell you otherwise. Not all of us can be Tony Stark/Iron Man and shout to the world that we are a superhero, but for those of us who can be like Tony Stark, that's important, too. Living your life openly and authentically as a LGBTIQ superhero helps to make it easier for all LGBTIQ superheroes. And that's a good thing, too.
9. Superheroes have villains
Superman has Lex Luthor, Batman has the Joker, Wonder Woman has Cheetah. Most great superheroes have super villains. These villains try to hurt the superhero, hurt the superhero's loved ones, or, worse yet, hurt society at large. In a recent Superman story arc, one of his villains, an evil company called Hodr tries to use Superman's secret identity as Clark Kent to blackmail him. Lois Lane, Superman's friend, tries to help by outing Superman to the world, but that only backfires and permanently damages their relationship. In the recent Netflix series Jessica Jones, her villain Killgrave, uses his influence to manipulate her and those she loves to hurt her. In the Marvel movie Captain America: Civil War, the United Nations introduces legislation that forces superheroes to be on an international roster, permanently and forever outing them and putting them at risk for further harm.
LGBTIQ people have super villains, too. It might be government officials, like the late Antonin Scalia, who spewed anti-LGBTIQ hatred from one of the highest offices in this country. It might be friends or family who say things to hurt you. It might be someone trying to out you before you're ready or safe. It might be a church or religious community that tries to tell you that God does not love you and who you are is sinful or wrong. It might even be another LGBTIQ person who is violent or abusive to you, especially when that violence or abuse takes place in our relationships. All of these are super villains. But just like the Avengers or the Justice League, we're stronger together and we can overcome our super villains, even if it takes a little help from our friends.
8. Superheroes have incredible powers
Faster than a speeding bullet. Hell, bullet proof. Able to control the weather. Able to read minds or fly or any number of amazing abilities. Superheroes have incredible powers. Even heroes without powers like Batman still have amazing gadgets, above average intelligence, peak physical conditions, or uncanny aim.
Here, I'll let you in on a little secret. LGBTIQ people have superpowers, too. We might not be able to fly or deflect bullets with magic wrist bands (yet), but we still have incredible abilities. Don't believe me? Look at how much our community has accomplished? In the 1980s, when our community was literally dying from HIV/AIDS, we arranged marches and protests, die-ins and fundraisers. We helped care for those who were dying when their families disowned them. Or look at how in just over ten short years, we went from a country that allowed some states to make same-sex sexual activity illegal to a country that has marriage equality in every state. When we work together, we get shit done. Beyond that, LGBTIQ people are some of the most creative, inspiring, and compassionate people I know. We all have superpowers, what's yours? Maybe it's being able to put up with cis-het (cisgender, heterosexual) people's bullshit on a regular basis. Maybe it's interior design. Maybe it's art. Maybe it's physical strength. Maybe it's intelligence. Maybe it's being a friend for those who need someone who they can talk to. Each of us have our own superpowers, what's yours?
7. Superheroes aren't "normal" and often don't fit in
I mentioned above in number 10. why so many superheroes have secret identities. It has become a common trope in superhero movies where the superhero has to fight not just against the villain, but also against the public perception that there is something wrong or something to be feared about superheroes. Look at the X-Men franchise for a good example of this. Much of the X-Men's efforts in all the films thus far that being a mutant isn't something to be feared or a bad thing. When people find out that someone is a mutant, like when Billy's (Iceman) family finds out he's a mutant, the mutant is often met with fear, anger, and being ostracized. In the third film, one of the mutants, Rogue, seeks desperately to cure her mutant ability so that she can lead a "normal" life.
Many LGBTIQ feel like Rogue in the third film. Some of us try to suppress who we truly are. Some of us spend countless dollars and time on dangerous conversion therapies to try to change who we truly are so that we can better fit in. Some of us even take our own lives because we feel like we will never be able to fit in or be loved as who we are. Sometimes we do it for religious reasons, sometimes we do it out of necessity just to live safely. We live in a world where us superheroes are ostracized, told we don't fit in, and told we're not normal. It is an unfortunate reality that we live in a world that often is scared of us, or tries to force us to conform to their idea of what reality should be even though just by pure nature of our existence reality is proven to be much bigger and beautiful than these closed-minded people would try to have us believe. We might go much of our lives without feeling like we ever truly fit in. But let me tell you this: it is not your fault. If you ever feel like it is too much, contact the free national helpline. Talk to a friend you trust. If you have the health care coverage, find a counselor. Look up the "it gets better" project and watch some of the videos about true stories of how it gets better. Attend a local gay/LGBTIQ pride event or go to a local LGBTIQ safe place, like LGBTIQ friendly bars, coffee shops, websites, and more. It gets better. I promise.
6. Superheroes have always been around
Superman is considered the very first superhero. He made his first appearance in Action Comics #1, published in 1938. Since then, thousands of superheroes have joined the ever growing roster of movies, comics, books, tv shows, video games, and more. But what the average superhero fan might not realize is that superheroes have been around for a very, very long time, even if they weren't called superheroes. For instance, Hercules was a hero that had super strength, and he existed from at least 500 BCE (over 2500 years ago!). The Epic of Gilgamesh has been around since 2100 BCE (over 4,000 years ago!) and is one of the oldest stories ever written down. It tells the story of a king named Gilgamesh and a "wild man" warrior Enkindu who can fight with gods and epic beasts (they also might be the first queer superheroes, as their friendship is pretty erotic). It seems that from the very beginning of recorded history, humanity dreamed up epic stories featuring mighty people who we would today call superheroes. Superheroes have been around for a long time.
Similarly, there are people who say that being LGBTIQ is just a passing fad or is a recent phenomenon. They make the argument that LGBTIQ people have only existed recently, and therefore is invariably some kind of insidious social agenda that should be dismissed, defeated, or ignored. Those people are simply wrong.
LGBTIQ people have been around forever. For instance, Sappho, a Greek poet, was writing lesbian poetry in 630 BCE (that's 2600 years ago!). I already q the 4,000 year old (likely) queer love story between Gilgamesh and Enkindu. Additionally, many ancient cultures were relatively accepting of queer people. Well it's true that words like "lesbian," "gay" "transgender" and more are recent additions to our vocabulary, queer people nonetheless have lead fulfilling lives throughout human history. Us LGBTIQ superheroes are part of a long, beautiful, diverse, and vibrant history. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
5. Some superheroes wear costumes (and some don't)
So many superheroes have iconic looks. What would Superman be without the big red 'S,' Storm without her 90s-era white leotard, or Wonder Woman without her tiara and golden lasso? Not all superheroes wear costumes, of course; Jessica Jones wears jeans and a leather jacket, Luke Cage wears jeans and a hoodie. But many do, and it's part of what makes them super.
We wear costumes, too. Queer theorists might call it "performance." Basically, whether its dressing up as a drag king, wearing clothing that matches your gender identity or purposefully wearing clothing that DOESN'T match your gender identity, wearing rainbows, wearing nothing at all, dressing up for fun or dressing down for business--we wear costumes. These costumes sometimes make us stand out. Sometimes they're meant to make us stand out, other times, they're not. Sometimes our costumes are meant to help us fit-in. No matter what the reasoning is, our costumes are diverse and wonderful and beautiful, and they can be integral to our outward expression of who we truly are.
4. Superheroes fight for truth and justice
Superman fights for truth, justice, and the American way. We've all heard that a million times, I'm sure. And as corny as it is, fighting for the truth and justice parts, at least, is a staple of what it means to be a superhero. In Superman's very first appearance, he is labeled a "champion of the oppressed" who "devote[s] his existence to helping those in need." Even some of morally ambiguous superheroes like the Punisher and Deadpool still seek to do good in the world, even if their methods aren't exactly appropriate at all times.
LGBTIQ people fight for truth and justice, too. We work on breaking down barriers--whether they be legal, political, or social--in order to bring equality and justice for everyone. On our best days, we break down barriers in our own community, making sure all LGBTIQ people, regardless of sex, gender identity, race, religion, culture, or ability, are treated justly. But, we're flawed, too, and sometimes we let our own privilege get in the way of truly being champions of the oppressed. Let's continue to rededicate ourselves to the fight for truth and justice, so that no one is left behind and everyone is given a place at the table.
3. Superheroes come in all colors, shapes, and sizes
Despite what the movies would have you believe, superheroes come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Yes, there are the white male superheroes like Superman and Batman, but there are also female superheroes from all different cultural backgrounds, like the Greek/Amazonian Wonder Woman, African Storm, and Latina Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. Some superheroes have physical disabilities: Professor X and Batgirl are paralyzed from the waist down, and Daredevil is blind. Some superheroes have mental/emotional health disabilities: Jessica Jones has PTSD, (comics) Daredevil has depression. Many superheroes are physically fit, but some are skinny, others are fat and proud. Superheroes come in all colors, shapes, sizes, with differing abilities.
LGBTIQ people also come in all colors, shapes, sizes, with differing abilities. There are Muslim, athiest, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu LGBTIQ people. There are male, female, genderqueer, trans*, non-binary, intersex LGBTIQ people. There are LGBTIQ people from every nationality, in every inhabited continent. There are LGBTIQ people who are able-bodied and LGBTIQ people with disabilities. There are LGBTIQ people of color. We are a very richly diverse community. We aren't just gay, attractive, fit white men, we are so much more. Don't let the news, media, white-washed histories like Stonewall, or anything else tell you otherwise. We are a very diverse community, and that is one of our community's greatest assets.
2. Superheroes save lives
As I said above, super heroes are known for fighting for truth and justice. Part of that is saving peoples' lives, whether it be from an alien invasion or a super villain's attack. Superheroes save lives.
We save lives, too. The important work we're doing, just by living our lives authentically, helps to break down the heteronormative society that tells us we have to be cisgender and straight to fit in, or that we have to get married in order for our relationships to be valid. By living our lives, we decenter that broken narrative and create room for all of our stories. We work to get HIV/AIDS medicine to be widely available, we work on safe-sex practice initiatives. We create campaigns like the "it gets better" project to help prevent teen suicide. We ally ourselves or join movements like "Black Lives Matter" that help raise awareness and create safety for all people. We fight legislation at home and abroad that seeks to harm LGBTIQ people--whether it be seeking to get conversion therapy banned or seeking to create legislation that recognizes hate crimes. We create funds to help homeless youth and organizations like GLAAD or PFLAG that help raise awareness of issues facing LGBTIQ communities. Together, we are saving lives and making the world a better place.
1. Superheroes are awesome
Superheroes are awesome.
And so are you! Take sometime to celebrate today and every day! Never forget: you are a superhero!
About National Coming Out Day
From the Human Rights Campaign website, "On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBTQ organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ) and AT&T’s LGBTQ employee group, LEAGUE. The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBTQ community often reacted defensively to anti-LGBTQ actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O'Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born. Each year on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly."
A few months ago, I wrote a post about how to make the perfect cup of pour-over coffee. Well, the awesome folks at Ghergich.com and PartSelect made an infographic on the pour-over technique explaining its history, science, and how to make a good cup of coffee using this method. They gave me permission to share it with you all, so here it is! Yay!
When asked if God is male or female, I have been known to say, "It depends on the day." Today, God is a woman. The trees are jumping forth from her dark skin, reaching underneath the vibrating sky.
Her voice calls in the wind, her golden hair falling from the boughs of the trees, catching the light splendor. The rivers babble forth in springs, reaching out in her hands to touch the world and bring life. Her smile is heavy upon the world, the cosmos breaking through the world to shine a light in every once in a while. Sometimes people refer to Goddess as mother. But she is not always mother; on this cold soon-to-be-Autumn day, the Autumn Woman is barren, and always has been. She is instead a lover, reaching out from beneath the ground to pull me into her embrace. She is death, the lover of all, stranger to none, who pulls all within her arms. She is beautiful, wild, and free.
(Sometimes, Autumn Woman is a mother, too, giving birth to the entire universe, singing songs in the music of the spheres. Sometimes, Autumn Woman is a mighty warrior, casting the mighty down from their thrones and uplifting the humble and poor, bursting force from the vibrating skies in chariots of fire. Sometimes, Autumn Woman is quite, softly observing the world. But she is never subservient, never passive; she always is up to something new.)
Today, Autumn Woman is tempting me with smells of cinnamon on the air. I have work to do, so I first ignore her call. But I hear her voice whispering through the trees and see the sun reflecting in her hair, so I give in.
There are very few sins greater than ignoring the call of a beautiful day.
I am embarrassed to say that the last time I updated this website was two months ago. My absence is due to a number of factors. First, I'm just exhausted. Emotionally exhausted. After the Orlando attacks, I took a long break from social media, and that included this website for a time. Additionally, in the past two months, a lot has happened. I moved, I completed two rather large and time consuming projects at work, and I added a new writing job on top of everything else. In all this time, I missed writing for this site, and I'm happy to return to it.
In light of my increased responsibilities, I am going to switch to a updating once a week. If inspiration hits, I'll write more. And I still plan to have guest bloggers participate!
Finally, I know I was in the middle of a "History of Coffee" series--that will be postponed temporarily, but I hope to get back to it soon.
Thank you all!
26Then [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
A man of the city, cast out from the city, forced to live naked on the outskirts, on the margins. He lived among the dead, for those in the city regarded him as such.
And here comes Jesus. Another preacher, another healer, another person to perhaps ridicule him as he passes by.
What have you to do with me, Jesus? I beg you, do not torment me.
You can almost hear the heartache in the man’s voice. The brokenness of a man who has been forced into the margins by no fault of his own.
What will Jesus do? Will Jesus ignore him, or respond to his cries with silence? Will Jesus ridicule him, or perhaps tell him that he deserves his suffering? Will Jesus cast the first stone? Will Jesus go into the city to meet with the community, since, after all, this is but one man and Jesus must think of the entire community? Besides, what has Jesus to do with this man, anyway?
Jesus instead removes the demon and casts it into the swine. The swine run off the cliff and drown.
It’s not long before the town hears about this and comes out to confront Jesus. The town is upset. Jesus just destroyed their livelihood. Jesus just destroyed their swine on behalf of this one man who may as well have been dead anyway. Why destroy an entire town just for the sake of one outcast? Why choose sides, isn’t Jesus on all of our sides?
But, the voice of the man still hangs heavy in the air: What have you to do with me, Jesus? I beg you, do not torment me.
This Sunday, many queer people will rightfully sit in your pews and wonder What have you to do with me, Jesus? I beg you, do not torment me. On this Sunday, during pride month, after our own have been killed in an attack directed at us, we ask What have you to do with me, Jesus? I beg you, do not torment me. We have been tormented enough.
What does Jesus do? Whose side is Jesus on?
Jesus chooses the outcast over the town, the dead over the living, the brokenhearted over those with full hearts. Jesus chooses the needs of the one over the ignorance of the many and to the detriment of the many.
That is the powerful part of this lesson. Jesus actively harms the larger community for the sake of the outcast.
Because the outcast has been tormented enough by those who would leave him among the dead.
What have you to do with me, Jesus?
Well, throughout most of history, if the church had a say, it was nothing. Even today, there are many who are saying that this hate crime and act of terror is deserved by the queer community or is a divine retribution by an angry, vengeful God.
I beg you, do not torment me.
Christians are some of the most vocal opponents of marriage between people of the same sex. Christians are often the ones behind the bathroom laws. Many Christians are sponsoring freedom of religious bills allowing them to discriminate against the queer community. Out of any one group in the United States, Christians are the most vocal against our right as queer people to be, to love, to exist.
I beg you, do not torment me.
Even the “liberal Christian” churches commit micro-aggressions that sting like paper cuts, by privileging marriages of the opposite sex, failing to stand up on behalf of the LGBTIQ+ community, assuming one’s gender or sexuality to be cis or straight, and, most of all, by being silent in times like these, in times of tragedy.
So. What have you to do with me, Jesus?
Everything. Because Jesus is on the side of the queer. Jesus is in the margins. Jesus has picked a side, and it is on the side of the suffering over and against the side of those who turn a blind eye to the suffering, or worse yet, actively encourage the suffering.
What have you to do with me, Jesus?
Everything. The LGBTIQ+ community needs so desperately to hear that message. The LGBTIQ+ community needs so desperately to hear that the gospel is for them. The LGBTIQ+ community needs so desperately to hear that if forced to pick sides, the church is on their side because they are the ones that society has left to live among the dead.
What have you to do with me, Jesus?
Everything. Because Jesus was murdered, too. Jesus was murdered on the outskirts of the Holy City during a holy time, just as the forty-nine LGBTIQ+ people were murdered in their sanctuary during the holy time of pride. Jesus was killed simply for daring to be who he was and daring to love in ways considered too prodigal and scandalous by society and the predominant religious institution just as the forty-nine LGBTIQ+ were murdered for daring to be and daring to love in ways that the society and religious institutions of our time considered scandalous.
So, when the queer among us cry out from our broken hearts:
What have you to do with me, Jesus?
Let the church answer with love: everything. Jesus has everything to do with you.
I have struggled so much with what to say, or whether or not I should say anything on here. What words can express a fear that now permeates every action like the universe's background radiation, a fear to be who you are since who you are has been publicly ridiculed, politicized, traumatized, and now murdered? What words can express the sorrow and heartache? What words can express the anger?
But then I remembered ACT UP's slogan, "Silence=Death." In the 1980s, the organization ACT UP used the slogan "silence=death" to communicate to the world that the silence of the Reagan administration and American society at large about the HIV/AIDS crisis equaled death. Furthermore, LGBTIQ people--both who did and did not have HIV/AIDS--were encouraged to speak out and openly about how the silence was killing their community--how the silence was killing us.
Today, silence around homophobia and transphobia equals death. What happened yesterday at Pulse in Orlando shows that. We live in a country that has seen over 200 anti-LGBTIQ+ bills introduced in the past six months. We live in a country where the presumed presidential nominee for one our nation's two primary political parties has let out a string of inflammatory tweets which went from a humble brag about how people are congratulating him over the incident to denying press coverage to the Washington Post. We have politicians already trying to pit the Muslim community against the LGBTIQ+ community, never mind the fact that there are LGBTIQ+ Muslims! And in the wake of tragedy, so many from churches to politicians made statements about how their hearts or prayers were with the families of the "victims" with no mention of the fact that they were members of the LGBTIQ community. When churches pray for the victims but fail to say that they were members of the LGBTIQ community, when churches and elected officials speak out against--or worse yet, say nothing about--the LGBTIQ community every day until today when they instead offer prayers for "souls lost"--that silence equals death.
In 1 Maccabees, the author speaks of the most heinous, horrible thing to happen. Seleucid Antiochus IV Epiphane captured Jerusalem and quickly set out to make the lives of the Jews who resided in that holy city a living hell. First, of course, was the slaughter of all those who would defend the city. Second, Antiochus tried to suppress public observance of religious rites and laws. Finally, Antiochus did the unthinkable, what the author refers to as the abomination of desolation. Antiochus entered the holy of holies, a place so sacred that very few were ever permitted to enter there, a place where God himself was believed to dwell, and putting up an altar to a pagan god likely sacrificing unclean animals upon it. This was worse than the Babyolonian exile, this was worse then the slaughter of the Jews in Jerusalem, because this was an assault on the very core of Jewish identity. This was destroying and disrespecting the heart of Jewish culture and religion, and was easily the most offensive thing one could think of doing. It was making the sacred profane. It was an abomination of desolation.
While it is impossible to compare the tragedy recorded in 1 Maccabees with the tragedy that happened yesterday in Orlando, the phrase abomination of desolation seems to be the only fitting phrase I can think of to describe what happened to the LGBTIQ+ community yesterday.
A man came into one of our holy temples--a place of community, culture, and identity--and desecrated it. Fifty people were murdered, another fifty-three were injured. Not only was this done in a holy place, it was done during a holy time. Pride month is a remembrance of our history, of our martyrs, people like Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepherd, or Yaz'min Shanked. It is a time where we celebrate who we are, one of the few times many of us are able to publicly celebrate who we are. It is a safe place, it is a holy time. To come into a holy space during a holy time with the intention to kill other people is a desecration. To break the sacred trust that this is a place where you can be yourself without judgement and fear is profane. This action was an abomination of desolation.
Make no mistake, this action was an abomination of desolation. To say it is anything less then that dishonors the lives lost and dishonors the LGBTIQ+ community at large.
For my LGBTIQ+ family, I love you. Who you are is valid and what you're feeling after this tragedy is valid, whether it be anger, heartache, sorrow, fear. If you need to talk to someone and have no one close by you can reach out to, go to glbtnearme.org to find a local organization or hotline that you can call. Practice self care, love yourself. Attend a pride event, or, don't, whichever you need. Speak out if you can, if you can't, that's okay, too.
And for our straight allies, the time for silence is over. Churches, pastors, religious leaders, theologians, especially: it's time to act up, speak out. Don't let silence claim any more lives.
If you are in Lutheran circles you may have seen the news that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) has officially banned women from being ordained as pastors. The measured passed by 77% of votes (75% was needed). The ELCL did not ordain women prior to this decision and then stop. Rather, this was to affirm their stance against women's ordination.
This is awful news. More than 80% of Lutheran World Federation churches ordain women. With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in just over a year, this kind of news shows that so many Lutheran churches are still in need of reforming. I post the below statement on the Latvian synod decision, shared by the General Secretary Rev. Dr. Martin Junge.
LWF General Secretary’s statement on Latvian Synod decision from Lutheran World Federation (lutheranworld.org).On 3 June the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) voted in favor of a motion to change its constitution, restricting service in the ordained ministry to men only. The LWF is saddened to see the ELCL depart from a shared journey and common practice among LWF member churches.
The LWF was aware of this motion before the synod and followed these developments with concern.
An LWF delegation visited the church in April 2016 to present this concern. During that visit the ELCL was made aware that at five consecutive Assemblies the LWF member churches stated their common goal of including women in the ordained ministry. These decisions were made on the basis of thorough discernment of Scriptures and theological research.
Together, LWF member churches have progressed impressively towards that goal. More than 80% of LWF member churches ordain women, and their membership includes more than 90% of the members of LWF member churches.
While stating this shared goal, all the Assemblies have also underlined that there should not be any imposition on the question of women’s ordination, neither on those requiring more time to decide, nor on those already ordaining women or ready to do so. An ethos of mutuality and solidarity undergirds this journey as a communion of churches.
The LWF expresses its solidarity to women, who by virtue of this decision may feel marginalized and hurt in their dignity.
The LWF is concerned about the unity of the Latvian church, given the fact that many at the Synod opposed the motion, or abstained from voting.
The LWF is also concerned about the implications of this decision for the ELCL’s bilateral and multilateral relations.
Following the action of the Synod, the LWF will take up discussions with the ELCL to hear from the church how it understands the practical implications of its decision.
Last week, I wrote about the Legend of Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd who supposedly discovered the energizing effects of coffee when his goats started dancing after eating the bean. He then showed it to an Sufi holy man who threw it into the fire, creating the first roasted coffee bean. This week I will move from the legendary origin to the actual origin, as best as culinary historians have been able to reconstruct it.
The Legend of Kaldi got two things right: coffee did in fact originate in Ethiopia and it was Muslim traders who first brought the plant to Europe. The plant itself, in all its diversity, seems to have originated from a plateau region of Ethiopia known as Kaffa (the name Kaffa is remarkably similar to coffee, no?). The first known written record of coffee is from a Persian philosopher and physician known as Razi, who wrote of its medicinal properties around the turn of the 10th century.
When the Ottomon Empire conquered much of the Arabian Peninsula, coffee soon spread north into Turkey. There, the Turkish brewing method was discovered: roasting the beans, grinding them into a fine powder, and then brewed in hot water. By the mid-fifteenth century, coffee, mixed with spices including clove and cinnamon, was one of the most popular beverages in Constantinople. It was not long until trade with Venice opened the door for the spread of coffee into Europe.
The first coffee shop in Venice opened up in 1645, after having already proven to be a popular street stand beverage. Just five years later, the first shop opened in England, and by 1675, a shop opened up across the pond in Boston. As demand increased, so did pressure for Europe to find ways to cultivate the plant themselves to help break the Turkish monopoly of coffee. By the mid-eighteenth century, Portuguese and Spanish colonies in South America and the Caribbean were producing coffee, and the French created the first coffee plantations on the island of Java.
Tune in on Sunday, June 19th for Part 3 of the History of Coffee mini-series: Diversity and Innovation.
Every other Sunday, I will write a post about making the perfect cup of coffee, sharing all the secrets I learned as a barista at a major coffee chain and that I've learned over the past decade as an ardent coffee lover. The series will explore a number of different things, from the history of coffee to what kind of bean to get.
Joshua K. Warfield (they/them/their) is a PhD student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. They are studying systematic theology, with research interests in Martin Luther, sex positive theology, queer theology, and deconstruction, all with an unhealthy dose of pop culture.
Updated once a week, with the occasional extra post.