Judging by much of the art and literature, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe was fairly morbid. Amid all the optimism of the Golden Age, an entire genre grew up calledmemento morte, which involved meditation on suffering and death. This is not surprising given the fact that about half of Europe's population in some parts had succumbed to the Plague: Few of one's children would live to adulthood, and as late as the 1660s, London was devastated not only by a resurgent plague but a fire that reduced much of the city to ashes. It is no wonder that Albrecht Durer, a famous woodcutter preoccupied with memento morte, was also a close friend of Luther's and that so many poets and artists could so richly evoke the tragic sensibility of Calvin with which they identified: "This life is a constant death."
Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California), host of the White Horse Inn, national radio broadcast, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is author of many books, including The Gospel-Driven Life, Christless Christianity, People and Place, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, The Christian Faith, and For Calvinism.
Issue: "The Blue Note: Can Your Faith Face The Music?" Jan./Feb. 2005 Vol. 14 No. 1 Page number(s): 22-23
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