History is not truth. History is what people agree it is…

On 31 October 1517 (at least this is the date people have acknowledged as the official date), Martin Luther is recorded as posting his “95 Theses” on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He paved the way for a new world–he challenged the power and authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

No matter that his Theses were in Latin (not German, although they were quickly translated into German). Only educated theologians could read them.

No matter that his intent was not to form his own church (although the Lutheran Church did follow and was named for him). He wanted to question and debate the practice of indulgences. An indulgence was a get-out-of-purgatory pass given for a monetary payment.

No matter that Martin Luther loved the Church and served it faithfully. His questions set European religion afire!

No matter that Luther questioned whether it was possible that he was the only person who was enlightened. (Have you ever wondered if you possibly could be the only person who knew the origin of your ancestor, although many have looked.)

So this week we celebrate 500 years of Luther’s courageous achievement–he asked the questions and posted them on the church door for other theologians to see. He shared what his concerns were, hoping that others would join in the debate.

I spoke at a family reunion several years ago and told the family that they were tracing the wrong lineage, looking in the wrong places, and that they had had the answer in their Family Archives all along. After I sat down, a young family member came up to speak with me. I still remember her words,”I can’t believe you had the guts to tell them their genealogy was all wrong. How could you do it?”

My reply, “They paid me to find the origins in England. I asked the question–has any family member visited family living in England? And an elderly man said he did and he recorded who he visited and where they lived in his travel diary.” I just asked the question.” No research had been done in those places.

Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle  http://arleneeakle.com

PS Celebrate this enormous event–500 years–by checking your genealogy for accuracy. You may be surprised that the lineage and the pedigree you have is wrong and needs to be re-done. Takes courage to ask the questions. Remember Martin Luther and do it anyway.


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