Literature of the Week:Warum der Esel Martin heißt – Neues von Martin Luther by Uwe Steimle

Guest column: 

In connection with literature and Martin Luther, we have a literary piece that I came across that one should have a look at. It is written by Uwe Steimle. Born in Dresden in 1963, Steimle studied theater at the University of Leipzig, having graduated in 1989, Steimle was a successful actor, having starred in the German mystery series Polizei 110, as well as movies like Sushi in Suhl- a film about a Japanese restaurant in the Thuringian town, which the character Rolf Anschütz created.  Steimle was also a successful author, having written Meine Oma, Marx und Jesus Christus and Heimatstunde.  This book of the week is his third. Published in 2016 on the eve of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther and his 95 Theses, this book is a collection of stories told by people having an association with Luther’s past in the places where the Reformer left his mark, such as Eisleben, Wittenberge and at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, just to name a few communities.

This review was written by fellow columnist Juliane Klingler, who writes for the Heldenstadtbewohner, a column which she and her husband Alex write about life in Leipzig and things people can do there, regardless of budget. The link is available here.

While this review is written in German, it is a rather short summary which will give you a glimpse on life in the Lutherstatdt, with some comments about Martin Luther and religion. I won’t go further but ask you to continue reading from here. A link where you can find out how to purchase the book is at the end of the excerpt.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

2017 ist ein Thema- ganz besonders hier in Mitteldeutschland- ständig präsent: das Reformationsjubiläum, der 500. Jahrestag des Thesenanschlags von Wittenberg.  Und Martin Luther? Der ist inzwischen überall präsent: im Film, als Panometer, auf Kaffeebechern und Spielkarten, als Puppe und auf T-Shirts. Etwas ist jedoch im Laufe der Zeit verlorengegangen: die restlichen 5 Thesen. Aber: sie sind wieder da! Gefunden von Uwe Steimle!

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Mehr dazu/ More on that: https://heldenstadtbewohner.com/2017/02/25/uwe-steimle-warum-der-esel-martin-heisst-neues-von-martin-luther/ 

 

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In School in Germany: The SWOT Analysis, Nostalgia and Football

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You don’t know how old you really are unless you look at your birthday card and see the hits from the 70s, the time you were born! 😉

Youtube has become the hub when it comes to finding some interesting videos for you to see. There are millions of music videos, episodes of TV series, amateurs performing experiments, and even tour guides that people can find and watch to their amusement. This also includes documentaries on historic events, and even sporting events of the past that we rarely see on TV unless you subscribe to Netflix, Uber, Hulu, or cable channels provided by networks charging people high monthly rates.

A couple weeks ago, as events in the United States with Donald Trump as President was beginning to unfold (which has to do with my silence from writing columns), I stumbled across full-length American football games dating back to the 1970s, featuring commercials, commentary by sportscasters and the like. It just so happened that I spent my Sunday evening, absent from watching real football games and Tatort on TV, watching a 1977 playoffs game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams, in what was dubbed the Mud Bowl. That game was televised in full length, which included the pre-game, the commercials and the play-by-play. The Vikings won 14-7 in what was one of the sloppiest game in the history of the National Football League and would advance to the NFC Championship game, losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the end. This Vikings’ victory was revenge for an earlier loss in the season.

Here’s the entire game in full length:

 

When watching this game, I came up with a grand idea that might be useful in any classroom setting. Both in America as well as in Europe, we have a sense of nostalgia, where pieces of our past are kept and cherished, while others that disappeared for a long time are recovered for rememberance purposes. Be it an antique cup, a historic building or place of interest, a lost recording of a film, old 70s style clothing or even music, we all have a sense of nostalgia, which we sometimes go back to look at what was then in comparison with what is today- right now. And this media-laden exercise takes us back to the past so we can talk about certain events, what we used to have and should have back at any cost, and what which ones were better off being a fad of the past and not of the future. 😉

SWOT:

Created by Alfred Humphrey in the 1960s, the SWOT Analysis is based on a strategy used by companies and institutions to determine their health and better plan for the future. The letters stand for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat, each one looking at the capabilities that a person and/or institution have so that they can see them as assets and not as liabilities. 

This activity has a sense of SWOT in there but shaped somewhat differently than what was developed by Humphrey because it focuses on the past-present comparison instead of the present-future scenario.  For S, we would have the assets of the past that were of great value and wish we should have kept; For W, we would have the aspects that were only good for the past and cannot be compatible for the present or future. For the O, we would have the question of whether some aspects of the past could still be instilled in the present or future. And lastly, for the T, we would have anything either from the past that could pose a threat to the future or from the future that would have altered the past had it happened. 

So, use this SWOT analysis and watch this game from start to finish, including the pre- and postgame shows AND ESPECIALLY the commercials. If you use it for a class, you can divide the segments up and give one to a group to analyse.

When watching the game, keep the following aspects in mind:

  1. What were the surroundings? Most football games were played outdoors in the 1970s, and having an indoor stadium (or dome) was considered a luxury compared to today’s games.
  2. How did the people dress and how did they act, behave and communicate with each other and indirectly during those days?
  3. How was the game structured then in comparison to now? Here, some research may be needed to help you answer the question.
  4. How were the commercials marketed? The products featured? The product facts? Would they still be useful in the present?
  5. How were the products and TV show previews presented? 
  6. How was the graphics of the game, the TV shows, the commercials and previews shown?
  7. What controversies in the sportsworld existed during the time of the game. Again, some research may be needed to help support your arguments?
  8. What was the overall environment of the game in the past, compared to the present? 

You can use any full-length game to conduct this SWOT analysis and talk about what was good and should’ve been kept and what still exists today but in altered form. This focuses on not just American football, but soccer, boxing, basketball and even Wide World of Sports.  Most of the games can be found on youtube, just by typing in the key words plus full length. Keep in mind that some leagues, like the NFL, may have their own copyright laws and have pulled full-length classics from these platforms. But not to worry, there are enough full length games to watch and conduct this exercise.

It will take some research but in the end, you will have a chance to enhance your knowledge of English, while learning about the aspects of history, culture, business, media and technology, entertainment and marketing and even the sport itself.  😉

So sit back, have some popcorn and a good Löwenbrau in your hand and enjoy this classic, while using the SWOT to look at the what ifs and what nots. Enjoy!

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Journalist Steve Buttry dies of pancreatic cancer at age 62

This tribute breaks away from the theme of German-American topics but focuses on the meaning of real news and the characteristics of a great journalist. A great journalist is a person who digs for truth, cutting away at the thorns of lies, deception and corruption, sometimes even risking his own life to get at the truth. A great journalist travels to great lengths, learn new cultures and shares his experience with other journalists and columnists who are starting their career or looking for guidance. And in the case of this journalist, he keeps searching for and dishing out real facts for people to think about, despite all odds, all the way to the very end. This Flensburg Files tribute goes out to Steve Buttry, who was unique in many ways. He survived two major cancers and other life-threatening ailments to surpass the feats of journalism that was set forth for him, when he started his career 45 years ago. Seven newspapers, one book, several workshops two blogs, 50 US states visited and hundreds of reported newsstories later, Steve leaves us with not only numerous accolades for his work, a legacy that will be next to impossible to surpass unless you read his work and large footsteps for people, like me to follow, especially in light of the problems we face today, such as fake news, alternative facts and a future that is unknown to this day and can only be changed if we go to the roots, look at the successes of journalists like him and dig for the truth behind the ills we face today or the places we never talk about. But doing it the Buttry Way. This tribute actually is a reblog to the tribute written about him from his own blog. But in either case, we are saluting him for his work, thanking him for what he has done and stand by the people whom he leaves behind with memories of stories and love- standing together so that we can pick up where he left off. God bless you Steve and many thanks for teaching us real journalism.

The Buttry Diary

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Steve Buttry, a journalist for more than 45 years, died February 19 at age 62 of pancreatic cancer, his third major cancer.

A memorial service will be held in coming weeks in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Details are pending and will be posted to this blog and other social media platforms.  The family requests that memorial tributes are directed to a scholarship fund created in Buttry’s honor at the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

Buttry spent most of his career as a reporter and editor, but achieved prominence late in his career as a newsroom trainer, then as an advocate for and teacher of digital journalism and media innovation and finally for blogging openly about his cancer treatment.

His first cancer, colon cancer, was detected early and was cured by surgery in August 1999, when Buttry was a religion reporter and writing coach for the Des Moines Register

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Alexandra Back in Service

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The Alexandra at the Dock Schiffsbrücke in Flensburg

109-year old passenger steam ship back in Flensburg Harbor after “Heart Transplant” in Husum.

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FLENSBURG/ HUSUM- It has been four months, since Flensburg’s iconic ship, “the Alexandra” disappeared from the dock area Schiffsbrücke, located near the Rum and Ship Museum (Schiffahrtmuseum). The 109-year old steamship, built in 1908 by Janssen & Schmilinsky, is the last saloon ship of its kind that is operated on steam, had been at the docks of Husum, undergoing one of the most complicated operations in its own history.

That operation was the replacement of the boiler!

Crews at the Husum Dock and Repair Corporation had to cut open the 37 meter long ship, removing parts of the upper deck and its signature smokestack to remove the boiler that had been in the ship’s hull since the ship was built. The boiler, which used wood and coal to heat the water and at between 180 and 200°C, was considered functionally obsolete and was therefore swapped in place of the newest boiler, which has the same function as its predecessor, but dependent mostly on wood. The total cost for the replacement was 780,000 Euros (appr. $810,000)  A film demonstrating how the new boiler works, courtesy of SHZ.de, is below to show the readers.

Although the replacement took place in November, rebuilding the ship to its original form, combined with technical inspections and pursuing permission to operate the ship and return it back to Flensburg delayed its debut until today.

After a two-day journey, totalling over 400 kilometers, the Alex was greeted by thousands of visitors and fans today as it arrived at its original home for the first time after a four month absence.

The replacement of the boiler was one of seven successful restoration projects on the Alex since 1975. In 2015, new steel was added to the ship’s hull, replacing original parts that had corroded and put the ship at risk of being decommissioned. With the ship back in Flensburg, the next steps are to prepare it for its seasonal use beginning the weekend of Ascension Day in May. By then, the ship will welcome visitors, locals and fans as it tours the Flensburg Fjorde, while the ship’s captain, Guenther Hermann, talks about the ship’s history, together with the city’s history.

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  1. The ship was named after the Princess of Schleswig-Holstein/Sondernburg/Glücksburg  Alexandra Victoria (1887-1957), whose royal family had resided in Glücksburg Castle until 1918.
  2. The ship runs at a horsepower of 420 PS and travel at a maximum of 12 knots (22 km/h)
  3. The ship was the ambassador for the sailing competition at the 1936 and 1972 Olympics. Kiel was used as the venue for both, even though the remaining competition was in Berlin and Munich, respectively.
  4. The ship was used extensively for scuba crew and as a torpedo interceptor during World War II. It was also a rescue ship.
  5. The ship provides passenger service between Flensburg and Glücksburg, as well as tours around the Fjorde.
  6. Since 1982, the Alexandra has been listed in the Denkmalschutz Buch, the German equivalent to the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. Since the 1990s, it is the last passenger steamship of its kind in operation in Germany.

 

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Tour de Revers (Tour of Disappointment): The Cardinal Sin of Biking in Numbers in Switzerland

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Cardinal numbers in English function like ordinal numbers. The lone exception is that they are used to describe sequence, and in some cases, like in this bike race for example, the placing of finishers in a competition. The trick is how the numbers are written, numerically and using just letters. When you look at the table below, you can see the pattern. By mimicking the pattern, especially after passing the 20-mark, it’s a lot easier to learn it and use it. 😉

 

Now for the exercise: 

Martin Quickborn is taking part in his very first Tour de Suisse, a bike racing tour through Switzerland with stops in Zurich, Berne, Biel, Fribourg, Lausanne and ending in Geneva. Tony Crane of the Files‘ Newsflyer, based in Hamburg is doing a recap of the final leg of the tour with a lot of upsets to report.

 With each candidate in reverse order, fill in one blank using the cardinal numbers practiced here (the first and last couple letters are provided as hints),  and using the numbers in parenthesis, write in the cardinal numbers in the other blank. An example is shown below:

 In the Women‘s Division, Maria Eutin came in f_____th behind third place winner Annette Rostock, who finished _______ (34) in last year‘s competition.

 ANS:  fourth (4th) &  thirty-fourth (34th)

 Good luck!  🙂

 

Tony Crane:

Tony Crane live at the Parc de la Grange on the eastern side of Lake Geneva, where this year‘s Tour de Suisse can might as well be the Tour of Upsets, for newcomers and unknowns of this race have become the winners, and the well-knowns have become the nobodys of this race. For example,

 

Last year‘s winner, Francisco Vivaldi of Barcelona finished ___________________(45) in the standings because of an accident with Pierre Dupont, who came in t_______th in the top 10 standings this year. Dupont, who‘s from the French town of St.Julien Genevois finished in ___________(99).  Despite being tarnished by the doping scandal, the Americans managed to place a biker in the top 10 for the _________(12) year in a row. Patrick Simonson from Anchorage, Alaska, who had finished in _________(23) last year, beat Dupont to finish n________th in this year‘s standings. Peter Barker from Liverpool came in e_______th, which was a vast improvement from last year‘s __________ (88) place finish. Then came the s_________th place winner, Jason Colby of Antwerp, Belgium (originally from Saskatoon, Canada), who finished last year‘s race in ____________(15) place, followed by Al Hambra Alla Halla of Cairo, who went from ___________(50) place to s_______th, Gallah Gaddaf of Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, who bested his finish from ____________(60) to f______th place and local Genevan Mathias DeBruine, who missed last year‘s top ten at ___________(11) to finish in f________th place.  The top three finishers all happen to be Germans, but our f_______st place winner is an unknown. 2012 winner Sebastian Frahm of Munich, who had missed last year‘s race because of a torn Achilles tendon, finished the race in th______d place, falling just two seconds short of s________d place finisher Florian Mielke of Dresden, who finished last year‘s race in ____________(38) place. The winner of this year‘s race was Martin Quickborn, from the northernmost city of Flensburg. He finished f_______st in his very f_______st race on Swiss soil. In his __________(4) as a profi biker, Quickborn had finished between ___________(7) and _____________(10) in his previous nine races and was in ______________(119) prior to this race.

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JC Insurance Now Offers Insurance Coverage

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LUTHERSTADT-EISLEBEN, GERMANY:  Indulgence, the one way ticket to Heaven without having to do hard labor at the Purgatory. According to Catholic tradition, when a person passes on, he/she is taken to the Purgatory where the determination of his destination is dependent on the number and degree of sins the person committed during his/her life time. The purgatory is like doing hard labor, the person works off the guilt before taking the next step to heaven. To avoid that, at least according to Catholic history and later stressed and criticized by Martin Luther in his 95 Theses in 1517, people can buy indulgences, cleansing him of their sins and guaranteeing direct passage to dine with God and talk to Jesus in person.

Although indulgences had long since been eliminated by the Catholic Church by the 1600s after Luther reformed the Church and eventually branched off to form his own, they are making a come back in Germany. 🙂  Recently, JC Insurance has started offering indulgence insurance to church-goers wishing for direct passage to heaven, while at the same time, wanting protection from potential sins in the future. It’s a rather unusual concept, but one that required some research into finding out how it works.

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Thanks to a tip by a local Jehovah Witness chapter in Leipzig, I interviewed Jeremy Christian, the JC Insurance agent based in Lutherstadt-Eisleben. Located 30 miles west of Halle (Saale) in Saxony-Anhalt, Eisleben is both the birthplace of Martin Luther as well as the place where he perished. Why he has an insurance agency in the heart of the Protestant Church, the place where Luther started the religious cult is a mystery, especially, as Catholicism can be found in Bavaria, however, his concept was rather interesting to know about.

Because of the length of the interview, I’ve decided to provide you with a link, taking you to the page where you can read it in full. Please click on the picture below, and you’ll be directed to the wordpress version of the Files. Then you can see if opening an insurance selling indulgence is right for you. Keep in mind that the picture has an important meaning as you read about indulgence coverage in full.

Therefore, click on it and enjoy! 😉

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JC Insurance Now Offers Indulgence Coverage

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LUTHERSTADT-EISLEBEN:  A couple weeks ago, I was given a tip by one of the members of the Jehovah Witnesses, who was a former student colleague from Leipzig, about an insurance company that provides indulgence coverage for people wishing for a one-way ticket to Heaven upon their passing.

My first impression was a real eye-opener. Germany has been known by many as the place of insurance, where no matter where you go, insurance is like the Bible itself: it is sacred, it is a necessity and it can save your life. That explains the reason why health insurance is compulsory, even when working as a freelancer, a moral must if you want to leave something for your next of kin upon passing, and a pure protector of all your precious goods. And even if insurance takes up 60% of your raw income, in the long term, it can really save and even nurture your life. Pure fact if you want to live in Germany, even for a short time as a student or someone passing through. 🙂

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But indulgence insurance???

To understand this, one has to look at this from a Catholic’s point of view.  When a person passes on, enroute to the Heavenly gate, he/she is screened for any impurities that was committed while on Earth. If a person happens to commit a sin, regardless of the degree, then that person has to spend time in the Purgatory. The Purgatory is like the Court of Law, where the person is tried on charges of sins that he/she has committed. These sins can include but are not limited to: violating the 10 Commandments, turning away from God and embracing other creatures rejected by Him, saying the Lord’s name in vain in front of a devout believer in Christ, being lazy and not fulfilling the work set forth by the elders, disrecpecting teachers and even breaking a woman’s heart by dumping her for another one.   Unlike in the normal courts, where the defendant is found guilty or innocent and the punishment is decided by the judge, pending on the severity of the crime, all people standing trial in the purgatory are pre-programmed to be guilty. And those who are guilty have to spend time in the Purgatory, where hard labor under the scrutiny of the Lord Jesus Christ awaits them. The amount of time spent there is dependent on the sins committed and in the end, if the person is unable to repent and ask for forgiveness, then the next step is witnessing Dante’s Inferno. Yet by working off the sins as debt, the person in the end will enter the Garden of Eden, to live happily ever after.

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Jeremy Christians, the JC Insurance Agent

There is the alternative form which doesn’t necessarily relieve a person of all his/her sins (the guilt remains as a scar), but it guarantees direct passage to Heaven. This is where indulgence comes in. And with that, Jeremy Christians, who sells Indulgence Insurance for JC Insurance. Based in the heart of Martin Luther in the city of Eisleben in Saxony-Anhalt, JC Insurance recently opened its business, providing relief for Christians who fear their future in the afterlife and therefore, would like to have insurance coverage that will spare them the time in the purgatory. I had a chance to interview the agent about how indulgence insurance works and found out some interesting facts about it. For instance,

  1. Indulgence insurance works like the indulgence that was practiced by the Catholic Church in terms of coverage of all sins committed to date, yet…..
  2. Indulgence insurance also provides coverage for potentials sins to be committed in the future, regardless of age, gender, socio-economic background and even profession, which means….
  3. There are several different forms of insurance premiums available pending on the aforementioned pre-existing conditions in nr. 2.

According to Mr. Christians, insurance rates start with a one-time payment of 2000 Euros per person, 3300 Euros for straight couples, 3700 Euros for other couples and 5000 Euros for a family of 4-5 people. Afterwards, insurance carriers only have to pay a monthly base fee of a tenth of the one-time payment PLUS additional payments for the number of sins that had been committed prior to obtaining coverage. A questionnaire with the list of sins is provided when customers wish to purchase indulgence insurance through JC. Yet unlike normal practices where the customers can take their time filling it out on their own, the questions are read to the customers but lie-detector scan is used during the proceedings to scan the brain and facial reactions to determine whether the customer is telling the truth or not. Believe it or not, there is just as much thorough scrutiny with buying indulgence insurance as there is in the Purgatory. The additional payment scale is then used, ranging from 25 cents per count for lying or saying the Lord’s name in vain, to one Euro per count for showing the person the bird (both the German as well as the universal forms), even when displaying it in the form of a cyclist. For serious offenses, like speeding, fighting, protesting at public events, cheating, committing fraud or any of the other offenses that violate the Ten Commandments, the additional payment fees could go as much as ten Euros per offense. In the other words, the most innocent people are the ones that pay the least per month.

But that’s not all! JC also offers a package which covers all sins that could be made in the future, pending on the profession. That means for an additional base price of 300 Euros per month, plus additional fees, a person can be covered form life. Additional Pay Profession scale range from unemployed (which is 10 Euros a month), to teacher (which is 60 Euros) to even a businessman (which is 100 Euros). This does not cover sins done onto another, whose spiritual life is altered permanently. There, the person is permanently dropped from the coverage and is guarenteed direct passage to the Purgatory or even worse.

This really shocked me, but as Mr. Christians mentioned in the interview, with so much corruption going on in society today, many insurance companies, such as JC, are profitting from it, because of a steep increase in demand by those who wish to be cleansed of their sins and given direct passage to the Garden of Eden, dining with God and talking to Jesus in person. This is especially the case as the talk of Judgement Day has skyrocketed since Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the US this past January and white-supremecy is on the war path in Europe, thus destabilizing the global environment, bringing it to the brink of a potential military conflict last seen in 1945. He believes when people buy indulgence insurance, they are protected for life, not just on Earth, but also spiritually.

Yet this brought me to the question of why JC Insurance is selling indulgence insurance in the heart of Martin Luther’s region, namely Eisleben, where he was born and also died. His answer is simple: He wants to prove to the Reformer that this coverage works, and that his arguments of a Purgatory not existing is congruent to the story of The Lady and the Tiger, where the suspect has to open one of the two doors to determine whether he is guilty or innocent- in front of a large crowd in a colliseum.

If interested in buying indulgence insurance, Mr. Christians suggested to call the JC Insurance hotline, for there is no internet, no social network page and the primary location for a nearest agent is next to the lake. One needs to go to the following areas. There a yellow phone can be found on the beach, where a person can call the agent for an appointment. When the agent comes walking on water, you have found the place and can talk about your future, both now and in the afterlife. 🙂

JC Insurance Agents:

Leipzig-  Zwenkauer Lake, Lake Markkleeberg

Brandenburg- Lake Plaue

Glauchau- Glauchauer Stausee

Neubrandenburg- Tollensee

Zeulenroda-Triebes- Zeulenrodaer Stausee

Lutherstadt-Eisleben- Süßersee

Erfurt- Stotterheimer See

Schwerin- Schweriner Innensee

Prien am Chiemsee

Starnberg- Starnberger See

Landshut- Isar Reservoir

More are being established in the coming months. If you want to know more, talk to the agent nearest your place of resident.

Amen!  😉

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Glauchauer Stausee: One of the places where you will find one of the JC insurance agents

 

 

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Special thanks to Carrie Shofner and Bill Moudry for the photo of the insurance agent, Jesus Christ, portrayed by the latter, a key contribution to only fake news story you will find on this column. But it does serve as small lesson about indulgences and the Purgatory and how Martin Luther criticized the Church about it in his 95 Theses. A link on this topic is in the article.