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The world of Lutheran angst and outrage is aflame this month with news that Valparaiso University's sports mascot has been expunged and excommunicated.
The forces of cultural sensitivity arrived. The Crusader had to go because it violates political correctness norms, and that makes people on both sides itch as if they have hives or shingles.
But I arrive to tell my Missouri Synod friends that they are misguided in their outrage on the merits of the case.
Missouri Synod Lutherans often are oddly and angrily wrong, and who better to lecture them on their theological errancy than Lapsed Catholics?
As the official representative of Lapsed Catholics of America, I am here to reclaim the Crusader title from Reformation thieves.
The adoption of "Crusaders" as VU's mascot in 1942 always was something of a puzzlement. VU has been wrong about this for nearly 80 years, and when you have been wrong about the same thing for 80 years, the last thing you want is some Lapsed Catholic smartass to tell you.
If you stay married to the same wrong person for 80 years, that is not a problem anything but time can fix. Like, nobody 60 years ago could have told you?
It was like an entire university completely misunderstood history - theirs and the Roman Catholic church's. Catholics all knew the Crusaders of the Middle Ages were the Roman pope's official foreign policy, designed to steal land and kill infidels. Catholics used to be big on sending mercenaries to kill infidels - even Byzantine Eastern Rite Catholics on the wrong side of the liturgical fence. Everyone needs a hobby.
By my childhood, even Indiana Catholics had stopped celebrating the Crusades just like we pretended the Inquisition didn't happen. There never were any Saint Torquemada Parishes of Perpetual Pain. We even stopped burning Jews at the stake because they wouldn't convert.
At least regular Catholics never thought Galileo was a heretic. My family thought he was swell.
As for murdering heathens, God told us to do it. As Paul Atreides of Dune says: "One cannot go against the word of God."
Crusaders were good at murder. On their way east to kill Muslims, the Crusaders even stopped in Germany long enough to invent mass murder of Jews.
VU's Lutherans were basically misinformed. If the papal Knights Templar portrayed by the mascot at sports events had encountered Missouri Synod Protestants, the "real" Crusaders would have murdered them, too. After all, it's what God would have wanted at the time.
The actual Crusaders were given the supreme papal dispensation - "007 License to Kill Infidels" - which would have included advocates of Martin Luther had any existed at the time.
The five "real" Crusades started in 1095 and ended in 1291. Martin Luther wasn't born until 200 years after the last Crusade, but it's not as if the Roman church trademarked the term.
For the 200 years spanning the real Crusades, there were no Lutherans. Heretics? Sure. But no Lutherans.
VU had become Latter Day Thieves of Someone Else's Culture. They didn't even pick a noble cultural template or the right century. Doesn't VU have a history department?
Papal forces spent the two centuries after 1291 trying to kill Muslims, and Muslims tried to take European land, too. Lots of organized murder on both sides because organized religion is very adept at genocide.
The Muslims were finally expelled from Europe (Grenada in Spain) about the same time that Columbus landed in the New World.
But those two centuries certainly were bloody, though not national/papal Crusades, because the European knights were too busy in those centuries trying to behead each other with broadswords. Anyone remember the Hundred Years' War between the French and British? No time for crusades.
The Crusades generally were the work of British and French knights, plus several religious orders that actually were devoted mostly to plunder. And killing infidels. Let's not forget that preference.
In 1942, the Lutherans who picked the VU mascot apparently forgot they were the infidels. This was like the NAACP picking a KKK Grand Wizard as their mascot.
Ever since 1931, the school had used the Uhlan as its symbol. The Uhlan was a Germanic military model, but in 1942 German light cavalry motifs were not so attractive.
So VU went from extolling pre-Nazi Germanic symbols to Pre-Reformation Catholicism.
Does not seem like Protestants had much to do with papal policy then at all. That means, at the very least, VU's mascot is cultural appropriation, like the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins.
But none of the current kerfuffle is new at VU. Senior students Danelle Carrig and Erica Kaufman tried and failed in 2000 to ditch the Crusader. They used the precise same rationale then that now has succeeded.
This time the university's president was carrying the torch. But the VU family of grads and friends remains touchy about being told what to do. Old affections die hard.
So I say this to my Lutheran brethren: Fair is fair. Invent your own murderous wars, massacres and annihilations to celebrate. There are plenty of religious genocides to celebrate.
But the Crusades? That one is Rome's property.
David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Trump's Most Amusing Pardon. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.More from Beachwood Sports »
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