On the top shelf of my living room bookcase sits the red-jacketed volume 54 of the American Edition of Luther's Works: Table Talk. Right next to it, of course, sits the yellow-jacketed volume 53, Luther's hymns and German language liturgy. On the other side is my 40-year-old copy of Williston Walker's History of the Christian Church.

I love these books, but I rarely take them down and read them. I can't remember the last time that Table Talk came down from its perch.

Since I got the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Classics CD a few weeks ago, I have consulted Table Talk multiple times on my laptop computer.

The traditional bookcase has become something of a shrine, something like an old-fashioned china cabinet in which we kept our best dishes—the ones we prized but rarely used. My computer, on the other hand, is my constant companion and servant.

Back to Luther. At the beginning of May, I realized it was the 500th anniversary of Luther's first Mass. That was a troubling day for him and a hinge on which the door to the future Reformation swung. So I opened the CCEL Classics CD and read his later reflections on how he had then viewed the mass:

When I first began to celebrate mass in popedom, and to make such crossings with marvelous twistings of the fingers, and could not rightly hit the way, I said: "Mary, God's mother, how am I plagued with the mass, and especially with the crossings." Ah, Lord God! we were in those times poor plagued people, and yet it was nothing but mere idolatry. They terrified some in such sort with the words of consecration, especially good and godly men who meant seriously, that they trembled and quaked at the pronouncing of these words: Hoc est corpus meum, for they were to pronounce them, ...
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