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Religions 2016, 7(3), 20; doi:10.3390/rel7030020

Holy Dung: Comic Signs of Consubstantiality in Martin Luther Films

Communication and Christian Thought, Virginia Wesleyan College, 1584 Wesleyan Drive, Norfolk, VA 23502, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joseph Kickasola
Received: 26 October 2015 / Revised: 2 February 2016 / Accepted: 14 February 2016 / Published: 26 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Film and Lived Theology)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [210 KB, uploaded 26 February 2016]


One problem with the religious sub-genre of Hagiographic films is that they frequently romanticize, sentimentalize, or idealize the lives of saints. Our purpose is to excavate three major film biopics on the life of Protestant reformer Martin Luther and demonstrate where the use of excremental humor humanizes him. Such coarse embodied humor invites a consubstantial identity of a holy man with his secular audience. Where laughter is present, saints are not elevated to being “more spiritual than God.” The use of excremental humor gives weight, or the gravity of earth, to the transcendent, bringing the holy down into the everyday. We argue that it is the comedy in the life of Luther that makes him more authentic, showing how film can communicate the presence of God in earthen vessels. View Full-Text
Keywords: Luther; consubstantiality; laughter; comic; humor; hagiography; body; vulgarity; dung; film Luther; consubstantiality; laughter; comic; humor; hagiography; body; vulgarity; dung; film
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Lindvall, T.; Stroyeck, M. Holy Dung: Comic Signs of Consubstantiality in Martin Luther Films. Religions 2016, 7, 20.

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