I tried to think of an interesting title to go with our side trips on the way home from Berlin to Wittenberg and Leipzig yesterday. Wittenberg is the city where Luther taught and in 1537 nailed 95 arguments on the door of the cathedral, setting into motion what would become the birth of Protestantism.
As is often the case, he could not have imagined the effect that invitation to debate would have on history. When my children asked, "What's Protestantism?" I scarcely knew what to say. It's a massive amount of reality right now. It's all the churches everywhere in Marion except for one. It's a massive amount of history.
Another piece of history is in Wittenberg too. That's the fact that from 1945 to 1990 this town was in East Germany. From 1961 to 1989 this place was divided from the rest of the world by a fence. You pass buildings that look like no one has done anything with them since WW2. You pass a massive chemical plant.
We only drove partially into Leipzig. I wanted to see this formerly east German city where Heisenburg (physics, early 1900s) and Lessing (theology and literature, 1700s) taught. This is the city where Goethe (1700s, poet, writer), and philosophers Leibniz (1700s) and Nietzsche (1800s) studied. A lot of it now looks like driving down mid-city Adams street in Marion, with abandoned factories.
What does it do to a person to grow up under that kind of communism. You can take the person out of the wall, but can you truly take the wall out of the person? And even if your children grow up without the wall, it will affect the way you raise them, your attitudes toward how to behave.
My guess would be that most east Germans are probably not bubbling over with friendliness and a drive to help you when you are in need. One lady in Wittenberg was perfectly helpful with directions when asked. Another at their version of Sams Club in Leipzig was not.
I thought of the legalism that pervaded the Wesleyan Church in the mid-1900s. Even after we stopped dressing like that, it arguably has an effect. Maybe you put that legalism into how you dress as a professional now or maybe you go anti-legalism and become a rebel. Maybe you just transfer your legalism to the next issue--so now you're legalistic about drinking or apply it to a rigid sense of justice in your politics or in your grading.
I wondered whether I would find more leniency with the speed limit in east Germany or west?