Oct
31

Martin Luther, Bird Conservationist

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Screenshot 2017-10-30 11.19.42

On the five hundredth birthday of what one has come to think of as the start of the Reformation, a letter from the birds of Wittenberg to Martin Luther:

We, the Thrushes, Blackbirds, Finches, Linnets, Goldfinches, and all other righteous and honorable Birds wishing to migrate over Wittenberg this autumn beg to inform you that as we have ourselves been credibly informed, a certain Wolfgang Seyberger, your servant,  has undertaken to purchase several old worn-out nets at considerable expense, in his great hatred and anger at us, in order to create a finch trap, to deprive not only our dear friends the Finches but all of us of our God-given freedom to fly through the air and to collect seeds from the ground, and that he is plotting against our lives, though we have caused him no harm and done nothing to merit such severe and ill-considered actions on his part.

Because all of that is, as you yourself can imagine, poses a great and dangerous burden to us poor free Birds, who have neither houses nor barns and no possessions, our humble and amiable plea to you is that you will discourage your servant from such presumptuous actions, and if that is not possible, then urge him to spread grain on the ground for us in the evening and then to stay away from the trap before eight in the morning, so that we can elude him.

If he refuses, then we shall pray to our Lord God that his traps capture nothing but flies, midges, and slugs, and that at night he is so plagued by mice, fleas, lice, and bedbugs that he forgets us entirely and does not deprive us of freedom and flight.

Why does he not direct his wrath and efforts against Sparrows, Swallows, Magpies, Jackdaws, Crows, Mice, and Rats, which do harm you by stealing and robbing wheat, oats, barley, and so on from the buildings? We do not do this, but merely seek tiny crumbs and single dropped seeds. We submit our case to all righteousness and reason to determine whether it is not unjust that we are so severely persecuted by him. We hope to God that as so many of our brothers and friends have escaped him this fall that we too can fly through his lax and rotting nets that we saw yesterday.

Given this day at our sky seat in the trees and under our common seal of feathers.

Suppose Luther showed this letter to Seyberger?

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