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.