Sunday, September 25, 2011

Martin Luther vs. Communism

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?

7 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Interesting "analysis", Ken! The Law, the land, the people....Governments, culture, and individuals....

How do laws affect, and what does law mean to individuals and nations? where do we draw our lines, and why? are we aware of where we've internalized law and how law is understood and is expressed?

Today's sermon on Acts 4 is a case in point. Don't think I want to "go there", as private property is one of the main components of a free society!!! (Am I to surmise that the early church was not a free society? Theirs was a confined community ruled over by the Romans! and ruled within by "elders"! Certainly, we wouldn't want to promote such an image of the Church, would we? or would one thiink this would be authenticating and justifying the "Church"? and the church's "right over the individual"? or the government's rule of the church?)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

In fact, isn't it of interest in the scientific community whether "law", or categories of "right and wrong" exist within the indivdual, apart from the conditioning of social structures or the relativity of culture? Kant's "catigorical imperative"?

And what of personality, individual differences of aptitude or interests? Where do these intersect one's understanding, even IF, there are innate categories?

Then, there is the mathmatical absolutist unerstanding of "order" within the universe. Such understandings have to do with physcal laws and how these are applied and should they be applied to human organtizational structuring? Wholism hasn't been the way that our government has understood liberty of conscience.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think it was Ayn Rand who made a distinction between conscience and consciousness. She understood conscience to be identity, which is the naton state, whereas, consciousness is identification! Choice was of importance in identification.

Whereas, Jung saw a "socal collective" consciousness, where the State was the "idol" or "usurper" of religious order. Such an understanding could be one view of consciousness, but a specified view of identification.

Schliemacher understood the consciousness of reliigous cultures, that make for the conditioning cultures. But, I'm not sure where he would "intersect" Jung, or if he would....

A realist, could not adhere to such "mystery", as collective consciousness, their understanding would be the real and political world, wouldn't it? Myth would then be "useful" to conform the culture to form the "collective consciousness" of "a people", which is "The Church" or the religous group...One vies for exclusivist claims, while the other vies for inclusivist claims as to the metaphysical....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I am strugging to come to grips with how one can justify any universally implemented understanding of life and all that is!

One side errs on the political control of the earth and people,a realist view, while the other relies too heavily on an idealized philosophy that is disconnected from reality (a transcendentalist view). One's identity must be defended in free and sovereign nations, whereas, one's consciousness should be a chosen value or personal commitment.

It seems that individuals understand their "worlds" differently and that is as it should be in free soceities, because the individual is not JUST the basis of human rights, but also, sovereign over his own life!!! One's personal values reflect one's commitment in group identifications, which might include many avenues of expression of value, or to a sole given passion....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The LAW does protect the social order, as it defends all equally. Our culture protects individuals in their ability to define their life and pursue their own interests, as long as it respect another's right to pursue theirs!

But, cultures that are defined by religious law, such as "Shair'a" aren't tolerant to indivdual, as the confine and conform social groups, not allowing individual diversity of interests and pursuits!

Scott F said...

I'll bite: who DID the Wesleyan's dress in the 1950's? Are we talking Amish here? :)

Scott F said...

Ahhhh. No slacks for girls or shorts for boys. No wedding rings. White bonnets for female mission workers. I had no idea.

http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/wesleyan.discipline.changes.htm