(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!)
I can’t believe this is the FINAL post of the Hedlund Challenge 2015!! How are we two months away from 2016? Before diving in, I have to say thank you SO SO SO sooo much to Amy from Bethany House, the fabulous Jody (not only for writing these awesome books, but being a part of the group!) and of course Cassie from Bookshelves and Windows, for not only coming up with this fun idea but for inviting me to join in! It’s been a blast and I hope y’all have enjoyed yourselves as well!
To celebrate the release of Luther and Katharina, I have some inspiring Martin Luther quotes, an interview with Jody and some discussion questions! Don’t worry, if you haven’t read it yet, I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Jody.
1. Your latest book, Luther and Katharina, details the true romance between Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther. What led you to this remarkable story?
As I homeschooled my children and gave them history lessons, I began learning a lot about some of the great heroes of the faith. I was particularly fascinated by the wives of these great heroes, especially those who were long forgotten by our modern world, women who had stood by their husband’s sides during dangerous times and had helped shape those men into the heroes they became. I wanted to bring these women to life for our modern generation. I wanted to tell their stories.
Katharina von Bora is one of those women who has been largely ignored by today’s culture, but she’s a strong woman whose story deserves to be told every much as her husband’s. I’m excited about sharing her story, about her daring and dangerous escape from a convent, how she met Luther, and how the two of them overcame many obstacles to eventually fall in love and form a strong marriage.
2. You grew up Lutheran. Share with us how your Lutheran background influenced the writing of this book.
Yes, I was born and baptized a Lutheran. In fact my dad was a Lutheran pastor all his life until he passed away. I have an uncle who was a Lutheran pastor until he retired. I went to Lutheran grade school, and my high school alma mater is Lutheran High School in Rockford, IL. I took catechism classes and was confirmed in the Lutheran church. My German and Norwegian grandparents on both sides of my family were strong Lutherans as well. I have a very fond spot in my heart for all things related to Martin Luther since his name and teachings were such an integral part of my upbringing.
3. Katharina von Bora is a name that most people would never connect with Martin Luther. Why do you think it’s important that we uncover and shine a light on some of the forgotten female figures who helped shape the Church?
My goal is to give a voice to the forgotten women of the past. Since most of history has been written by men, unfortunately all too often the accounts neglect to include or minimizes the many women who played critically important roles in the shaping of history.
As a mother of five children and a wife to a husband in Christian ministry, I’ve had a firsthand learning experience of the incredible work load and responsibility that comes with raising a family, being a wife, managing a home, as well as helping do all of the things necessary to provide emotionally, physically, and financially for our family. As I go about this calling God’s given me at this stage in my life, I have a greater appreciation for the women of the past who also struggled through the same issues (but without all of the modern conveniences that I have!).
I believe modern women will benefit from hearing their stories, will be incredibly encouraged to see these women who persevered through discrimination and found the strength to use their God-given abilities to make a difference. Not only did they make a difference in their era, but today (decades and even centuries later) we can see the fruits of their bravery and strength. These women of the past have encouraged me to persevere and to use my skills and talents to make a difference in my time. No matter how big or small that difference might be, I want to be faithful to leave an impact, just as those women did.
4. As you began to read and learn more about Katharina, what particularly captivated you about her?
I was particularly fascinated by the fact that Katharina had once been a nun. And as we know, nuns take a vow of celibacy.
I was curious to know why she’d become a nun in the first place. What led her to that decision? And then what made her later decide to forsake her vows? What was life like for her after escaping her convent knowing that if she was caught and recaptured, she could face persecution and even death for running away? What were her hopes and dreams for her life after she’d denied herself for so long? What was it like for her to interact with men when she’d never before had the opportunity?
All of those questions and more reverberated through my mind. And what I really wanted to know was how she’d ended up with Martin Luther. What brought this couple together? It was a forbidden love during a time of incredible turmoil. It was a love that was never-meant-to-happen. So how did it come about?
5. At the time of the story, how were Luther’s teachings and writings already inspiring change and revolution?
At the start of the book in 1523, Martin Luther had already been declared a heretic by the pope and the church. He’d already nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg church (which detailed his concerns about the corruption within the church). He’d already faced an inquisition by important people sent by the pope in the city of Worms. He’d faced the Emperor himself and had refused to recant his teachings and writings. He’d been excommunicated and declared a heretic. And since that time he’d essentially been hunted down so that he could be burned at the stake for his beliefs.
Luther went into hiding for a time, but continued to write and preach. During that time, his band of followers began to grow exponentially. As Luther’s popularity grew, his teachings spread and made their way secretly into the convent where Katharina lived. When Katharina and some of the other nuns heard Luther’s views on the unnaturalness of cloistered life and the goodness of marriage, something about his message resonated deeply within them. And their lives (and many others like them) would never be the same again.
It’s also thought by some that Luther’s teachings incited the peasants in Germany to revolt against authority. Although Luther was of peasant origin and was tempted to side with the peasants, he maintained his relationship with the Elector and a number of other princes.They finally gave the Reformation and the gospel their allegiance in a move that likely wouldn’t have happened had Luther sided with the peasants during the Peasant Revolt. He had alienated himself from the peasant class, but in doing so had preserved the success of the Reformation.
Now onto some discussion questions from the book!
1. Like the nuns, have you ever faced a really tough choice where you could stay safe in the life you’ve always known versus moving out of your comfort zone into something unknown, risky, and perhaps even scary? What was the experience like?
2. What most surprised you about their story of coming together?
3. Sometimes we have high expectations for what our lives should be like, but the reality of our experiences doesn’t always live up to those expectations. Have you ever faced disappointment when something didn’t turn out the way you thought it would?
4. What were some of your favorite quotes or scenes from the story?
Can’t wait to hear from y’all!