He isn’t too ordinary
My friend Rob pointed out the odd resemblance between these two portraits to me today.
While it might seem strange to link Martin Luther to a dog, Luther had a dog named Tolpel and though the word loosely translates as fool or lunkhead after reading dog-related quotes ascribed to the man, I get a strong sense that he was quite fond of the animal.
And in an odd bit of coincidence, the best known of these refers to a dog’s rapt attentiveness.
When Luther’s puppy Tölpel happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, he said, “Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.
Luther’s Works, Volume 54, Table Talk (Philadelphia: 1967), pp. 37, 38. May 18, 1532
I may be a lapsed Lutheran but I agree whole-heartedly. The kind of intense, rapt attention a dog is capable of focusing on meat (or in this photo, his master) is something to aspire to.
William Graffam wrote a book for children about Tolpel’s observations on Luther which appears to be quite hard to find. I’d love to find a copy because LibraryThing lists it under the tags ‘Lutheranism’ and ‘comics’.
As I finish this post I realize that the many generations of Lutheran church basement ladies I am descended from would very heartily disapprove of the comparison I’m making.
Some things never change…