When studying the facets of Western Civilization, a few recurring questions must be analyzed. Will those in power abuse it? Unfortunately, yes. Does freedom spawn intellectual, technological and social progress? For the most part, yes. Was Martin Luther, in historical terms, a “bad ass?”
Carter Lindberg states in his book The European Reformations, “An initial move to control the complicated and multifaceted reality of the Reformation is to define the terms used for it and the era it covers.” In order to secure Luther in the annuals of history as a “bad ass”, one must not only clarify the characteristics of that title, but also view his accomplishments in a 21st Century frame of ...view middle of the document...
Glenn Blackburn, author of Western Civilization: A Concise History Vol. 1, gives this description of Alexander. “Some historians believe that he was simply a great military leader who knew well how to fight and conquer. Others see Alexander as what he claimed to be, an apostle of Greek culture who used Greek language and institutions to unify a cosmopolitan empire” (p.82). Alexander’s greatness was even acknowledged in the motion picture Die Hard. The films antagonist, Hans Gruber remarks, “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept. For there were no more worlds to conquer.” Alexander was educated, brave, innovative, aggressive and ridiculously successful for a person that died at the age of thirty-three.
Hannibal- Carthaginian general in Punic Wars against Rome. During the Second Punic War he marched his forces, which included about two dozen elephants, over the Alps with intentions of attacking Rome from the north. Blackburn credits Hannibal with invading and ravaging Italy, but eventually conceding victory to Rome. Despite his failure, his creativity, boldness and radical ambitions easily place him in the “bad ass” category.
Jesus of Nazareth- Touted in the Bible as the Son of God, he is responsible for the development of Christianity. His life and ministry is documented in the four Gospels of the New Testament. Jesus was very influential and all powerful, but his actions wouldn’t place him above the previous mentioned individuals on a “bad ass” scale. He did die for the sins of the world, a bold gesture, but other than attacking tax collectors he was nonviolent. Even though he was trailed all over the Holy Land by 12 disciples and an uncountable number of Galileans, his actions might not reap him the reputation of being a “bad ass.”
Muhammad- The father of Islam, who, according to Blackburn, almost exclusively transformed the traditional Arabic world. This 7th Century prophet as been labeled by some historians as being the most influential person in human history. His efforts to infuse Islam into Arabic society was counter by basically the status quo. Although this new religion spread more through military conquest than Christianity, Muhammad was more responsible for the success of his religion than Jesus was to his. But going from a small town merchant to ‘God’s last and greatest prophet’ is in itself pretty glamorous.
Ferdinand Magellan- A relentless Portuguese explorer who is credited with being the first man to circumnavigate the earth and in doing so proved that the world was round. “It was in fact the crowning triumph of the age, the final, decisive blow to the past” (Reader p. 294). The bold and fearless leadership that Magellan demonstrated on his voyage is quite remarkable. He overcame, on several occasions, dissenters and mutineers before he died, some might say foolishly in the Philippines. Despite this, his expedition was one of the most outstanding voyages of exploration ever...