Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where do Lutherans come from? A Lithuanian Fairy Tale

(Illustration, Tomi Ungerer Das Grosse Liederbuch)

A castle beyond the borderlands.

There was once a wealthy property owner who had only one daughter. Because she was so rich, many suitors rode from all corners of the land to woo her. Many were handsome and some were rich. But the girl did not like any of them. Finally her father said to her “My child, there is no longer anyone in the world who could be your groom. The devil would have to come for you to fall in love.” Not long after, a young gallant appeared. He told her he came from far away, beyond the borderlands. She soon fell in love with him and it was not long before she married him. After the wedding, the young man took her back to his manor across the border. It was very beautiful there and she had everything imaginable. She liked it and her life was peaceful. But soon she had an uncanny feeling that something wasn’t right, because her husband always left the castle at twilight and when the cock crowed in the morning he returned. He was in fact the devil. Now fear seized the maid because she did not know what to do. She discussed the matter with others. They gave her the following advice: “When he goes out, have a carriage and horse stand waiting. Get into the cart immediately and flee back over the border!” So the next time he went out, she immediately ran to the carriage and made her escape. And she was able to get back across the border. The devil noticed that she was no longer there and began a hot pursuit. But he could not catch her before she crossed the border and she was able to make it back to her father. It was not long thereafter that a son was born. The boy grew quickly, was very bright and learned things easily. He soon graduated from school and became a pastor. But soon after the son of the devil had become a pastor, he lost his faith and began to follow the teachings of the Prussians. That is where the Prussians come from, or rather the Lutherans.

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Translation: Copyright
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Anonymous said...

I think this is not particularly fair to Lutherans but it is funny!

Anonymous said...

What a pity that the author viewed Lutherans as such. I think this story is sadly disrespectful. The Lutherans have a rich heritage rooted in the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there is no single author of this tale to blame. It is based on a pre-Christian, oral tradition circulating in Lithuania for hundreds of years and was included in a collection of folk tales published by a man living in the Prussian/Lutheran heartland (Berlin). No disrespect is intended toward Lutherans. However, I think the story illustrates how our ideas of the "other" quickly become that which we fear and ultimately believe to be evil. Perhaps you can forgive pre-Christian pagans for being fearful of Lutherans if you remember they were also scared of trees and a skeletal ghoulish woman they called Godmother Death. (See link Something Terrible in the Trees and Godmother Death).