Wed, Sep. 24, 2003

Luther: Rattling the Constitutional Cage

CK - Washington.   The Luther movie coming out nationwide on Friday has me thinking about its legal angles. The film is enthralling. When you see it, the action keeps moving rapidly through decades and locales and lives. There is hardly any time for reflection. You soak in the events, in their historical context, and sort things out later.

At its core, this movie is about a sometimes crazy, sometimes supremely logical lawyer and cleric who questions even the holiest unquestionable. Almost from the outset, Luther confronts a canon law that has been corrupted by recent political developments within the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and is used as a tool to control the behavior and finances of dumb believers through numerous layers of administration. Questioning amendments to the canon law enacted over the preceding 150 years or so, Luther is found to question Pope Leo although the papacy was not on his radar.

With that determination, his life unraveles, and so does the empire and the Church. The rules he establishes are not explained in the movie as law per se, but he appears to be laying the foundation for democratic principles and equal justice for all. The Church ends up getting an awfully bad rap, and Luther gains stardom status. Not totally in kilter but, after all, this is a movie--and an action movie at that--, and for many quite interesting.

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