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Luther

osborne church

a play by John Osborne, first performed in 1961, tracing the religious reformer's life from 1506, when he is received into the Augustinian order, to 1530, when he is living with his wife, a former nun, and their young son. Between these years, he is seen castigating the practice of selling indulgences, nailing his theses to the church door in Wittenberg, rejecting the authority of the Pope for that of scripture, being excommunicated by Leo X (whom he describes, in characteristically scatological style, as ‘an overindulged jakes' attendant to Satan himself, a glittering worm in excrement’), and refusing to give his support to the peasant uprising he has indirectly inspired. A picture emerges of a rebel in conflict with his father, God, his own anguished mind and intransigent body, a venal Church, and the corruption, smugness, and superficiality of a world Osborne seemed to wish his audiences to identify with their own.

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