There’s a Bathroom on the Right

A Lutheran woman once told me she grew up thinking the chorus to Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969 hit “Bad Moon Rising” wasn’t “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” but “There’s a bathroom on the right.”  I use to think that was because her hearing was poor; I now think it’s because she was a Lutheran.

Chesterton (I think) said that for the British everything happens in the stateroom, for the French everything happens in the bedroom; for the German everything happens in the bathroom.  Luther might have agreed.

He said of his discovery of the Gospel, “The Spiritus Sanctus [Holy Spirit] gave me this realization in the cloaca.’”  There is what Oberman terms “a dignified way out” of having the locus of the Lutheran Reformation in the bathroom.  Luther didn’t mean the toilet, but the study in the tower that was above the toilet.

Oberman, however, thinks Luther meant the toilet, the can, the john precisely.  Since the crapper is the most degrading place for man, it’s “the Devil’s favorite habitat.”  In the filthiest place on earth is where Luther gloried in Christ being “for him.”  The most unholy spot on earth “is the very place to express contempt for the adversary through trust in Christ crucified” (Heiko A. Oberman, Luther Man Between God and the Devil, 155).

Luther had a German, bathroom sense of humor.  He liked a Latin rhyme about the Devil catching a monk reading the first of his daily prayers while sitting on the toilet.

The Latin is:

Diabolus:      Monachus super latrinam

                          Non debes legere primam!

Monachus:   Purgo meum ventrem

                          Et colo Deum omnipotentem;

                          Tibi quae infra,

                          Deo omnipotenti, quod supra!

 It doesn’t rhyme in English but still the point is made.

Devil:   You monk in the latrine,

               You may not read the matins here!

Monk:  I am cleansing my bowels

               And worshipping God Almighty;

               You deserve what descends

               And God what ascends.

 Render unto God, Caesar, and the Devil to each their own.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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