I’m taking a class on the History of the Reformation, Absolution, and Enlightenment Europe, which covers a period from 1500 – 1789. I have a paper due that is supposed to use 1000 – 1500 words to describe how the Martin Luther’s Reformation affected 16th century society and examine some of the central ideas of said Reformation. It’s been difficult to start writing about that, however, and so I’m thinking about the things I should be writing about while by writing this for your general information and guidance in the world of collegiate Lit-majors. Procrastination, then, is the main idea of this entry, but, in order to demonstrate my point, I will tie procrastination into ideas of the Reformation and present to you a new kind of reformation I’ll call: The Reformation of Procrastination. This new reformation operates under the edict, “make procrastination look useful” and will alter the world much in the same way Luther’s Reformation changed society if allowed to take root and influence the lives of students and corporate leaders alike (though, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll refer to both collectively as ‘students’).
Instead of writing essays or doing assigned reading that carries a burden of grade and uncertain utility, students could volunteer in animal shelters, participate in Community Theater or cleaning projects, and organize their desks. Indeed, such a move from the standard organization of the modern world where teachers (used here to included corporate executives and other authorities) rule over these purgatorial pages of letters and learning, would allow students a more individualized approach to education. Remarkable as it seems this move would parallel Martin Luther’s Reformation of the 16th Century because the central idea of his thesis was empowerment of individuals.
(Here you may skip ahead to the final two paragraphs for the summary of what follows:)
Luther’s Reformation called into question the power of the Catholic Church over matters of faith and politics, as well as the spiritual hierarchy, and emphasized the equity of the individual in the body of Christ. Luther wrote in an address to the German Nobility of 1520 “All Christians are of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them, save of office alone”.
His statement, referred to a Biblical idea of the “body of Christ” which compared different people to different parts of the body, emphasizing the utility of having hands and feet, eyes and nose, and condemned what I’ll call “part-ism”: where, say, ‘eye people’ will accept only other ‘eye people’ and create a body composed of eyes. You can see that such a body would be useless as a body, though eye jelly would certainly become a possibility. More applicable to Luther’s cause, and my own, is the sense of a hierarchy in the body. For the Catholic Church of Luther’s time, and our own, the Pope (call him the ‘head’ though I’ll not specify of what) was the primary leader and authority of the Church, and as the head the Pope was held in a higher position nearer to their God. The authorities of the time were on a similar hierarchical level because they were thought to be divinely ordained to rule.
Now, these heads of society were held over the mouths, and eyes, and nose etc. of the social body while the feet, and toes, and toenails (peasantry), were kept on the lower rungs of social serfdom. These lower members were purely for the use or satisfaction of the upper members, and the heads enforced their supremacy by reminding the feet that to be a head was certainly much better than being a foot, and the feet were often abused by the head. My metaphor is getting a bit out of hand at this point, so I’d like to simplify and summarize my meaning: the head was abusing the other members needlessly. Luther, then, considered the bodily function of each individual as their ‘office’ but held that there was no difference in rank because a head without feet is unbalanced. The idea, then, was that the head (which protects the brain which guides the hands) should strive to ensure the entire body is well cared for. Let the head wash the feet and provide rest when rest is needed by acknowledging the inter-reliance of the various body parts.
The educational hierarchy is comparable to the body, where students and teachers are hands and mouths where, without hands, the mouth has difficulty eating and without the mouth the hands cannot receive energy from the entrails. The entrails, then, are the intermediaries between student and teacher which ‘digest’ the economic food of the students’ enrollment to process and produce a form of energy to better equip the teachers and students to feed one another. Their efforts, in turn, feed a larger social body with energies that go to some unspecified head. In theory our digestive efforts benefit ourselves and society, though, all in all, the utility of our efforts cannot be proved. My procrastination proclamation embraces the uncertain utility of our educational digestion in order to better allow hands to be hands and mouths to be mouths. A hand, instead of feeding the mouth with rice paper sweets decorated with chocolate poems as the head ordains, could engage in other activities with other body parts, or take up a new hobby like crochet.
The results of this reformation of procrastination, similar to the results of Luther’s Reformation, would create a new way for the bodily members to interact. The hands, after making some crocheted object (say: a scarf) could send that object to the neck to keep the neck warm. The warmed neck would then better serve the brain because the jugular veins and spine would be warm and toasty and comfortable, sending signals of contentment to the brain and head which, in turn, increases levels of dopamine and improves the overall health of the entire body. Essentially, by putting off taking up the rice papers to feed the mouth, as ordained by that unspecified head from before, the hands actually better serve the body. However, the head from some unknown region still maintains power over the body and even though the hand would prefer to crochet or mingle with other body parts, the head has issued command that the hand feed the mouth, and so the body aims to keep the hand in line with that programming.
During Luther’s Reformation, that Pope-ish head recognized Luther as some hand knitting without permission, and though the head sent signals to remove that hand it was too late: the hand had taught the feet to knit. Suddenly, the entire order of being was called into question. No foot was supposed to knit, that was a job for hands only; and only then by permission of the head. The feet are, of course, the lay people and the knitting is biblical interpretation in Luther’s case. The hands were the clergy, and Luther was a rouge hand. I’m starting to over extend my metaphor again; I’ll explain, no, too much, I’ll sum up:
Luther’s Reformation challenged the established social order because he said people of all classes were capable of personally seeking God without having to ask permission of the church, go to confession, or even bother with the clergy. The clergy and other authorities did not like this, because they wanted to be ‘higher up’ than the peasantry and lay folk, and their perceived nearness to God and wealth were signifiers of their superiority. Luther’s reformation upset the social order by allowing communication to flow more freely between classes, but even today the general practice is that the rich rule the poor.
Luther’s Reformation is still applicable, and it is a nice foundation for my own Reformation of Procrastination, where procrastinators strive to put off doing assigned tasks by doing other socially beneficial tasks like community service, reading books, and writing essays designed to initiate a new movement in the world of procrastination (These essays should be disguised as informative essays on the Reformation or other educational things). I’m sure, by this point, I’ve reached the limit of readers’ attention (I know I’d be leery of an entry longer than a paragraph) now I’d like to finish by saying this: Strive to make your procrastination look useful.