Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wittenberg and Martin Luther

Wittenberg is the town where the religious split between Catholics and Protestants started. Later this split was called the Reformation. In October in 1518 Martin Luther wrote his famous 95 theses (arguments) against the selling of Indulgences.
These indulgences were sold with papal blessing to forgive sins and avoid purgatory; a wonderful money maker for Rome. Martin Luther’s action in objecting to the greed of the Bishops, was condemned by the Pope l during Luther’s 1521 religious trial in Worms, Germany where he ended his defense with the words: “Here I stand. God help me, I cannot do otherwise. Amen.”
Wittenberg at the time was a well known town. It had a University since 1502 and became a Mecca for the newly invented printing process. This process was invented by Gutenberg in a nearby town, who used movable print for the first time. The royal house of Frederick the Third (the Wise), who reigned at this time in Wittenberg, attracted artists and the famous painter Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) who was a known personality and gifted artist then. , I think because of the University, was an ‘in’ town in the 16th Century. Today it is totally asleep.
I was in Wittenberg once before. I had already seen this small town and so I asked myself “Why did I come here”? Wittenberg today is a town like many others, the only thing it has going for itself is that Martin Luther preached here and nailed his 95 theses on the Castle Church door. Oh yes, he is buried here, too.
this town had royalty once, and because of that artists flocked here, schools settled here, etc. but that would not make this town special. Many towns had similar histories. Now I am back in Wittenberg. Why?
Something about Martin Luther’s defiance of authority gets to me. I just read a book () and I guess it rattled my curiosity about the ability of a single man to change history. Not that I want to be a man like this, I am just curious as to what makes this happen. Is it the town, the upbringing, the area one grows up in or just luck? Luther studied Law, then became a monk and priest by a fluke and changed history after that. Was he in control? Am I in control? When riding my bike I wonder sometimes why I ride like I do. I sit in the rain, in the cold or heat and just ride around. Yes, I like it, yet why am I doing it? A car is so much more comfortable. Am I really in control of my destiny? This all sounds like a brain fade but why am I riding a bike around the world and ending up in little Wittenberg?
I can only misquote Luther: “Here I am, I ride, I cannot do otherwise.

No comments: