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Monday, March 19, 2018

Fick 10: Atheist free-thinkers; Lutheran Martyrs; “Missouri Nightingale” sings a parody – Old Lutheran laughter!

      This continues from Part 9 (Table of Contents in Part 1), publishing an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's biography of Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick. —
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Steven Rowan
      I was not expecting to meet with such a Lutheran pastor who would throw himself, anonymously, into the limelight so prominently.  There is a lot of history that surrounds St. Louis, Missouri during this period – names like Heinrich Boernstein, Joseph Pulitzer, etc. – great names in the eyes of the world.  Much has been written by modern historians such as Dr. Steven Rowan and others, especially about the radical German journalists.  And along with their newspapers came quite an attack on Christianity, especially by Franz Schmidt, using a blasphemous hoax originating from Germany concerning an alleged "scroll of parchement" found by an  "Abyssinian trading company at Alexandria, in a former monastery ... derived from the Essene sect".  Walther was well aware of these attacks as I blogged earlier.  But what practically all historians, including those of Concordia Historical Institute, are not aware of is that the major popular parody against these attacks was written anonymously by… C. J. Hermann Fick.  However our biographer Walther certainly knew…
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This translation by BackToLuther (BTL), taken from Der Lutheraner, Vol. 42, Nos. 14 (July 15, 1886) to 18 (September 15, 1886). All underlining is emphasis from original. All highlighting by BTL. — This portion:– vol. 42, #17, p. 129-130.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 10, cont'd from Part 9)

Fick saw, recalling the fight of the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:27.), that against the loud-mouthed new Goliath Schmidt, biting ridicule is the only victorious weapon. So Fick wrote a pamphlet with the following title [BTL: the author Fick is unknown to WorldCat, CSL or CHI]:
Fick's book:
Carnal-Religion of
the Free Men
Important Historical Revelations About the Carnal-Religion of the Free Men. According to an old manuscript found in Alexandria from the Order of the Sadducees. A curious side piece to that of Mr. Fr. Schmidt of St. Louis,
Hans Sachs
Wittenberg Nightingale

[page 129, col. 3] Mo., who in his Free Paper [‘Freien Blättern’] shared ‘historical revelations about the true mode of the death of Jesus’. Informed by a friend of Archaeology and Enlightenment. Highly funny to read. St. Louis, Mo. 1851.”  In this pamphlet, Fick reports in the preface that according to that old discovered document, the Sadducees had once founded a “Free Men's Society”, held a meeting to strengthen each other in their struggle against all religions. This was documented in the protocol of this assembly in rhyming verse [Knittelversen, see Hans Sachs, and here] in the form of a drama.

All the people appearing in it carry animal names and signify particular outstanding persons who at that time resonated with Schmidt. Schmidt himself appears in the pamphlet for the sake of his ape-religion under the name “Baboon”, the editor of the “Brutalization Organ” [“Vertierungsorgans”], the then editor of the “Anzeigers des Westens” [“Gazette of the West”, Heinrich Börnstein], who is referred to as the “Instructor of Blasphemy”, appears under the name “Fox”, the rationalist preacher from among the then large influx of them to St. Louis under the name “Hamster” etc.
And since it had been reported shortly before that a portion of many ladies were moved to share in the flourishing of the Free Men’s Society [“Freie-Männer-Vereins”]  and to appear at their meeting, so Fick puts in his drama finally the “Choir of Geese”.  Fick was not mistaken. A few weeks after his pamphlet appeared, it was out of print and a new, boosted edition had to be arranged. *) Not only did the Christians in the city read the booklet at the time, but we may say it was also devoured by the unbelievers. It was almost circulating from house to house. In all public places
*) Even United-Evangelicals and Catholics, in cities in which the religious scoffers lead the great talk, were anxious for reprints of Fick's pamphlet for their circles; and still in 1859 the Lutheran youth club in Baltimore brought the book back again and tried especially to put it into the hands of Lutheran youths. And everywhere this satire proved to be the best weapon against the seduction arts. Even then the atheists used these especially to draw the youths into their nets, since the booklet castigates atheism for what it is, a ridiculous delusion of all reason, scourged with bubbling jokes.

[page 130, col. 1] it’s meaning was discussed. And the effect was not only that all readers laughed heartily, but that – and this was undoubtedly the main fruit – the blasphemers themselves were the object of general laughter. The “Free Men's Society” now lost more and more of its attraction and Mr. Franz Schmidt, who did not consider any other kind of joke in addition to the madness, not only did not dare grumble against Fick's joke, but also had not long after, from a lack of subscribers, to shut down his editorial office. In the Der Lutheraner of September 28, 1852 [p. 23] it is reported about the “Free Pages”: “The publisher of the same himself announced before long that, as the “Pages” had covered the first half of their first volume, he must stop. He had then  turned to the local society of the ‘Free Men’ for moral support, which had solemnly decided on this support, but (probably for lack of this) they let it pass with this decision. So finally only the Anzeiger des Westens had adopted the poor ‘Pages’, but in a short time, with the publisher, lost the sum of a thousand dollars. If the other public is as little eager to be enlightened as the 'Free Men', then atheism in the West will soon no more ‘Pages’ (but hopefully its familiar fruits) produce, the gazette will in that case close down. As we hear, the ‘Free Men’ may no longer read the paper in vain because the publisher's simple principle ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for perhaps tomorrow we are dead, and after death everything is over’ – has already been understood by these gentlemen from the first number and they hope to be able to develop the whole system practically and theoretically from this principle, even without teacher assistance. In addition, the gentlemen 'Free Men' themselves have become divided among themselves and make mutually bad compliments, and indeed so that it seems as if both parties are right.” —

Fick's pamphlet was apparently devastating to atheism since, and indeed especially for this reason, it was such that hardly anyone could read it without tears. But here we do not mean tears that would strike one out of emotion, but tears that, as is well known with a certain degree of laughter, even pour out with irresistible force. Perhaps it would be good if Fick's parody written with an incomparable joke would be reissued now after 35 years. As is well known, there are still enough students of Darwin who regard themselves as enlightened, and yet in their madness regard the monkey theory as high wisdom, even as it degrades mankind and reduces man to a brute.

Incidentally, while here in Bremen our tireless Fick also began another work of writing, perhaps his most urgent, and indeed a work of peace. In 1853 he published the first issue of a larger work entitled The Martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and completed the same in 1856. The local Lutherans were astonished to find that not only the ancient Church, but also the Evangelical-Lutheran Church had not only the few known martyrs, but also a whole cloud of martyrs to show for her pure apostolic doctrine.  These were in almost all the countries of Europe, in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Spain, in Italy, in France, in England, in Scotland, in [page 130, col. 2] Bohemia, in Poland, and even in America. How much these histories of the deaths of these martyrs by their confession of the pure Lutheran faith from all lands has contributed to the reinforcement of the faith of local Lutherans, only God knows. When these appeared, it was evident that they awakened the spirit of a joyous confession of the doctrine of Lutheran Church of the Reformation by the thousands. The booklets were finally collected into a two-volume book series; the first volume (comprising VIII and 232 pages in large octave of tight printing) appeared in 1854, the second (XIII, 204 pages) (Google Books incomplete) in 1856. For each martyr's story, the exact literary sources from which it is taken are given.
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      No other historian has recorded the popularity that Fick's parody attained against the “Free Men” atheists, only C.F.W. Walther.  I have taken the time to produce the German text of Fick's parody of Franz Schmidt and the Free-Thinkers.  Starting at the half-way point in the following document is a very rough English translation from Google Translate:

Direct access to the above Google Doc available  >> here  <<. 
Would to God someone from Germany or Pastor Joel Baseley or Matthew Carver would properly translate this wonderful, humorous parody by Fick!  How I love to laugh with Walther!
      After he had to shut down his newspaper, the atheist free-thinker Franz Schmidt met an unhappy end in Cuba which was recorded in Steven Rowan's translation of Boernstein's Memoirs, p. 235:
“As a Protestant [!] he could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery of Matanzas. His money, clothing, books and everything he had brought from St. Louis were confiscated and kept by the royal treasury, despite the protests of the American consul. This was because Spanish law assigned to the Treasury goods of all foreigners who died in Cuba.”
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      I have previously blogged on Fick's magisterial work on the Lutheran Martyrs.  I wonder now that Fick may have gotten many suggestions for his subjects from… C.F.W. Walther.  —  In the next Part 11...

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