Read Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History by Erik H. Erikson Free Online
Book Title: Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History|
The size of the: 599 KB
Edition: W. W. Norton Company
Date of issue: June 17th 1993
The author of the book: Erik H. Erikson
Format files: PDF
ISBN 13: 9780393310368
Read full description of the books Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History:This was a tremendously refreshing book to read as a supplement to coursework in the history of the reformation. Erik Erikson's first book-length psychoanalytic study of a major historical figure, Young Man Luther focuses on the very private person rather than the monk, author, translator, theologian and politician he also was. And by "private" I mean the very private, the kind of facts which the psychoanalytic tradition sees as foundational in character building and which most persons would never talk openly about except to a trusted friend or therapist.
The central difference between Lutheranism and Catholicism is the doctrine of justification. The former emphasizes grace. The latter allows for both grace and works. Much has been written about the distinction.
Erikson portrays young Luther as a constipated young monk who was forced by his condition to spend considerable amounts of time in "the tower"--the privy at the verge of the establishment. So as to use the time constructively, he would read. The matter of justification was of considerable concern to him owing, in part, to his previous history with his father and other authority figures. Luther was a bad boy. He became a monk and a scholar over the objections of his father. His mind was tortured by self-doubt and personal misgiving. Then, what he refers to as "the tower experience" occurred, i.e. his discovery in the letters of Paul, in Romans, the passage about human sin as inescapable, but . . . but divine grace being infinite. It struck him for the first time--for he had read this before, many times--that, yes, as finite beings we can never be perfect; that because of this justification can never be fully accomplished by our works; but that god freely forgives our imperfection and makes possible what we cannot.
--And then, blessed release.
Reducing the major thesis of Lutheran theology to the bowel activity of its formulator is, at first glance, a stretch, but there is something here and not only in the sense of Erikson adducing a case for his argument from the record. In fact, our lives are supported and surrounded by grace abounding. What we actually understand and accomplish is miniscule. At best, we lever events and call the resulting avalanche our accomplishment. At best, we have this vague sense of something, of a point we wish to make, then let go a torrent of words which make the point for us. Our bodies and their workings are almost entirely beyond us. Our cultures and their histories and accomplishments are embodied in habits, but barely understood. The books and the libraries which contain them "understand", but our actual consciousness is narrow, very narrow. We know this, we feel the falseness of our claims to knowledge and achievement while we are making them, but we rarely, as Luther did, call such "sin" or take such commonplaces seriously.
Not prone to disabling constipation, I did once pull my back "out" as they say, and find that one small irregularity made almost everything impossible. And I have had friends, close ones, who stuttered when they were conscious of trying to express themselves, but could speak quite clearly when inspired, when not trying consciously to do anything. These examples suggest to me something, not everything, but something, of what Luther and others think when they talk about god, about god's grace, about our utter dependence on the omnipotence of the Other and about the simple, active happiness of fools, children and saints which, for them, is proof enough.
Read information about the authorErik Erikson was a German-born American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T. Erikson, is a noted American sociologist.
Although Erikson lacked even a bachelor's degree, he served as a professor at prominent institutions such as Harvard and Yale.
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