God and the people speak the same language
Müntzer was expelled from Zwickau, where he had spent less than a year. He then moved to Bohemia. There was a great effervescence there. The Great Schism had just been overcome. As almost everywhere, one heresy after another was unleashed. A thirst for purity ran through the country, inflaming the masses, brutally interrupting the old discourse. Suddenly, consciousness entered the homes. At night, the frogs croaked an unnameable truth, and they were going to name it. The vulture’s beak gnawed at the flesh of the corpses, and they would make it speak. At that time it seemed that the Bible had to finally become accessible to human reason. But it was earlier, in England, two centuries ago, when the great leap was made. John Wyclif had an idea, oh, a little idea, a trifle, but one that was going to cause a great scandal. John Wyclif came up with the idea that there is a direct relationship between men and God. From this first idea it follows, logically, that everyone can guide themselves thanks to the Scriptures. And from that second idea comes a third: prelates are no longer necessary. Consequence: the Bible must be translated into English. Wyclif – who, as can be seen, was not short of ideas – also occurred to two or three terrible thoughts: thus, he proposed that the popes be designated by lottery. Already in the dark, he declared that slavery is a sin. He then affirmed that the clergy should henceforth live according to evangelical poverty. Finally, to finish punching people, he repudiated transubstantiation, considering it a mental aberration. And, as a culmination, he conceived his most terrible idea, and advocated equality among men.
Then the bulls rain down. The Pope gets angry, and when the Pope gets angry, bulls rain. Translate the Vulgate into English, what a horror! Nowadays, even the smallest instructions for use are in English, English is spoken everywhere, in train stations, in large companies and in airports, English is the language of goods, and goods, today, it is God. But at that time all correspondence was in Latin, English was the language of the rags, of the soldiery. And now John has the idea of translating the Vulgate, the sublime Latin of Saint Jerome, into British, that loutish gibberish, and now he refutes the transubstantiation – he’s crazy! – and sends his disciples, poor people, to the provinces. preach the doctrine. He has read too much Agustín and Lactantius, he has lost his mind. The Lollards propagate their wild ideas of holy poverty, an egalitarian ranch that Devon’s little bucks dangerously gobble up. In their filthy farms, where children are starving, they are seduced by that direct relationship with God of which they speak, without the mediation of priests, without paying tithes, without that lifestyle of cardinals; That evangelical poverty is his life!
“Leave everything and follow me!” Christ apparently said; This order has no end, it demands a new humanity. Enigmatic and naked. He mocks the splendors of the world. A poverty destroys. Another exalts. This entails a great mystery: loving the poor means loving hateful poverty, ceasing to despise it. It is to love man. Because man is poor. Irremediably. We are misery, we wander between desire and disgust. At that moment in history, in which Wyclif begins what was to be the Reformation, God and the people speak the same language. Of course, Rome condemned John Wyclif, and despite his deep and sincere words, he died in isolation. And more than forty years after his death, condemned by the Council of Constance, his body was exhumed, his bones burned. They continued to profess tenacious hatred for him.
Above all, he begins it with Latin. He opposes the simplicity of the people to Latin, and that simplicity is not vulgar, it can be transmuted. The mud is gold. And while Luther translates the Bible into German, Müntzer addresses those who cannot read.
It goes further than Luther. His mass in German raises a clamor. People flock from the outskirts of Allstedt to hear the word of God, crowds flock to hear a priest address them for the first time in their language. In the Allstedt church, God speaks German.
Soon enemies rise. Count Ernest von Mansfeld promises to put to the knife those of his subjects who go to Allstedt to listen to Müntzer. Because the workers, the artisans, an entire ignorant population, even the bourgeoisie, flock there. They want to hear the Word in German, they want to finally know what was told us for so long in that strange language; people are tired of repeating amen and those songs they don’t understand. And it is not insulting to God to ask him kindly to speak in our language.
Müntzer says mass in German. And when Count von Mansfeld forbids his subjects to listen to him, he changes his tone; another Müntzer emerges, angry, furious, as they say in the Bibles. Go up one more degree; and if we do not weigh well the step that it saves then, we cannot understand fanaticism, we cannot but be horrified. But if we appreciate well the step he is taking and why, if we appreciate well what such intimation can entail in a proud man, that is, in a man who considers himself equal to others, we will be able to get an idea of that hardening, of that vibrant madness that assails the heart and makes Müntzer sign the letter he addresses to the count: Destroyer of the wicked.