12.10.09

Anecdotes (Updated 20.10.09)

Progress on this blog may be slow for some time to come while I work on other projects - alas, I only have so much spare time at my disposal. Here are several anecdotes regarding Dr Sasse to tide you over until the next post.

A student cautiously approached Dr Sasse after chapel at Luther Seminary one day and nervously blurted out, "Dr Sasse, I have a problem." To which Dr Sasse replied, "Good!"

It was Dr Sasse's custom to take students from his classes at Luther Seminary in North Adelaide on what we might today call field trips to hear outdoor preachers in the nearby parks on a Saturday morning. One day, one of these preachers singled out Dr Sasse in the crowd and addressed him, "And what about you, Sir, have you found your Saviour!?" All eyes turned to Sasse, and he characteristically scratched the side of his nose with his index finger before replying in his thick German accent, "I did not know he was lost!"

Visitors to Dr Sasse's small residence in North Adelaide were often astonished to find several typewriters loaded with paper around the main room, each with a different essay or letter partly completed on it, some in English, some in German, some in Swedish. (What could he have done with a laptop and the internet?)

Seminary students assigned to tend the front garden of Dr Sasse's North Adelaide house after morning classes would invariably find themselves invited inside part way through the afternoon to share a bottle of Sauterne, a sickly sweet French wine. Did the gardening ever get finished?

In 1935, while a member of the stellar theological faculty in Erlangen, Sasse got into an ongoing debate in the religious press with his Erlangen colleague Hermann Strathmann over the extent to which Lutherans could co-operate with the Reformed in opposition to Hitler. The dispute was referred to among the faculty as "Die Hermann Schlacht", which translates as "The Battle of the Hermanns".

During World War 1, Sasse served in the German Army, reaching the rank of sergeant in the infantry. In the Battle of Passchendaele, which concluded in early November, 1917 with half a million casualties on both sides, Sasse earned the Iron Cross (2nd Class), the second highest battle honour in Germany at the time.

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