Friday, February 1, 2013

How To Learn about Walther

This is the creepy Walther shrine in St. Louis.
There are three Walther statues in Missouri: inside this shrine, at the Purple Palace, and in Perryville.
Someone asked about learning the true story of Walther.

First, students of history should gather as many documents as possible and test whether the claims of Missouri mythology are valid.

Zion on the Mississippi is easy to obtain on the used book market.

Philip Stephan's The Pursuit of Religious Freedom is the recently published saga of the Stephan clan, which gave so much to the LCMS and has received so little in return.

The attorney Vehse, who handled Stephan's affairs in Europe and went along to America, returning in disgust, also chronicled the great escape from Babylon. His account in German and English is all over the used book zones.

Ludwig Fuerbringer, whose father married the widow of O. H. Walther (Ferdy's brudder), wrote two memoirs about Missouri - both of them excellent. They are out there and easy to buy for about $10.

The books of Missouri mythology are also worthwhile, because they add important details. The ones above are far more analytical, but the gushing tomes also give away clues.

Servant of the Word is a gusher with some genuine surprises. Walther blamed Mrs. Stephan for the bishop's adultery! In case you wonder about being abused and then accused in Missouri, here is an example in print. Stephan gave his wife and children syphilis, but his adultery was her fault. Walther offered that slander "privately" and CPH published the calumny for all the world to read.

Re-reading Zion showed me that Walther's complicty in Stephan's adultery has always been known. Walther was not only the enforcer in the Stephan sex cult, he was also the pimp. There was no sudden, shocking admission of adultery from one (or two?) women. They all knew or chose not to know. It was a public court case. Stephan was under house arrest until he was released to leave for America. Vehse and Marbach were his lawyers in Dresden, his lay leaders on the way to Missouri.

The Stephan book fills in many gaps. Zion shows how Walther organized the hand-picked mob that invaded Perryville. The mob threatened the bishop's life, then robbed him of all gold, books, personal possessions, and land. They forced Stephan across the river to Illinois at gunpoint. And yet this farce of pastoral practice is portrayed today in Perryville as "giving Stephan three alternatives."

He began his crime spree by kidnapping his niece and nephew from his father's parsonage.
His father was deathly ill at the time.
The police put arrest warrants out for Walther,
and Walther's future mother-in-law went to jail for her part in hiding the children.



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