Thursday, May 17, 2018

My Mispent Youth #TBT

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I'll take a detour from my usual dive into obtuse corners of penetration testing and security analysis, and take a look at another esoteric branch of knowledge that is in all ways devoid of practical application.

Prior to entering the IT field I made the completely fiscally sound decision to study History in college, and not just any history, but the esoteric, and certainly lucrative field of Theological History.

Much to my surprise, upon graduation, I was now showered with job offers, nor incentivized with rich stock option plans from Silicon Valley's best tech companies.  Rather, I putzed around a few years before entering into the world of IT.

However, my college education was not completely without utility, as I can now present to the morbidly curious, or those in need of a strong sleep aid, my Senior Honors Thesis.  The acknowledgments and abstract are included in this post as text, while the entirety is available for download as a PDF.


When I was first invited to enter the History Honors Thesis Seminar I had to ask myself what in God’s name such a thing was. The informational meeting left me asking myself what kind of masochist would actually enter such a program for fun? (and more importantly was I that kind of masochist?) And when I finally entered the program, and sat down in the first week to discuss the Spur Grant and the proposal writing process, I had to wonder just what kind of person actually wanted to give me money to write a paper about Lutheran theology. Luckily for me somebody did want to give me the money, and I found out, in the course of writing, that I was just the masochist this program was looking for. So many hours, many gallons of coffee, and several nervous breakdowns later I find myself able to sit back and reflect on who has made my decent into insanity possible. First and foremost the entire process would have been impossible without Abraham Friesen’s earnest corrections, immense knowledge, and repartee. Jonathan Glickstein’s box of red pens kept my writing style both concise, and intelligible, and his guidance throughout the seminar kept me from writing all 50 odd pages one week before the paper was due. (giving me more time to write this Acknowledgment section) Todd Clary’s aid in making the Latin language intelligible further aided the formulation of this work, as did the comments from the entire seminar. Finally I would like to thank Jen Dolan for her endless nagging about my grammar, and my roommate Dave for putting up with piles of theological books and dusty paper intruding on his filth.


Just prior to posting the 95 Theses on the Cathedral doors at Wittenburg, Martin Luther discovered several tracts on German Mysticism: a collection of sermons by Johannes Tauler and a work he named Eine Deutsche Theologie. This discovery of mysticism helped to further the development of Martin Luther’s own theology, and he immediately praised the usefulness of mysticism in understanding theology. Martin Luther’s theology was greatly influenced by the mysticism of Johannes Tauler up until around [520, at which point he made a decisive break with mysticism, favoring his own theology of the Righteousness of God. The key tenet of mysticism was that man was capable of bringing about a baptism of the Holy Spirit, while his belief in the righteousness of God dictated that man was utterly incapable of improving himself in the eyes of God. These two beliefs were not compatible, which Luther came to realize by 1519, This break with mysticism led to a decisive break and eventual conflict with the Radical Reformers such as the Zwickau Prophets and Thomas Muentzer. The Radical Reformers had, up until Luther’s break with mysticism, viewed Luther as a kindred spirit. When the Radicals entered Wittenburg in 1522 they expected to find a friend in Luther, but instead were rebuked. This rebuke eventually led to a conflict between the Radical Reformers and Martin Luther culminating in the 1525 Peasant’s revolt. Martin Luther’s relationship with mysticism highlights the development of his theology in the crucial years between 1516 and 1522. and further demonstrates the political consequences of his developing theology.

You can download the rest here.

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