Aventures de Luther: This summer was not the usual walk in the sun until my leg gives into arthritis. Interning in Le Havre, I was able to get another experience: the professional one. I took advantage of the fact I was in yet another new place to go play the tourist and spend hours under the sun at the beach.
This year is also a time of celebration for the Protestant communities worldwide. 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, modern-day Germany (the Holy Roman Empire at the time). What became Protestantism already existed in pockets since the dawn of the Middle Ages.
After Martin Luther’s protest of the unethical, politically driven ways of the Church in Rome, the movement took on new forms. Hence the term, “Protestant”. It wasn’t just heresy in the pope’s eyes; it was about entire philosophies surging from underneath our feet: the “demand” for reforms. Hence, the term “the Reformation” or, in French, “la Réforme”.
The pockets of “heresy”, including the Vaudoise Church, the most ancient Protestant church in the world, or the small movement in present-day Czech Republic saw the emergence of other communities in Scotland, France, Germany, rest of Switzerland and other corners of Europe. Christianity has its origins in the Oriental Mediterranean (Israel-Palestine and Syria-Anatolia), today more commonly called the Middle East. The Protestant churches of today find their origins in Europe. Both were reform movements, the former ultimately became a religion separate from the one it was trying to “reform” (lack of a better word).
Since 30 October 2016, the worldwide Protestant community has been celebrating the 500th anniversary with pomp, circumstance and figurative fireworks. In France, Switzerland, and Germany alone, there have been ongoing conferences, social get-togethers, celebratory church services, national church organisations’ elections, debates about Protestants’ roles and actions in today’s civil societies (our role as citizens of the world), and international get-togethers, such as that of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, or Kirchentag, German Protestant national event of the summer. Note: this year, it was held in Berlin the weekend before the G summit and Barack Obama was invited by Angela Merkel to attend and speak. One could see the scope of the entire organisation behind this.
One of the biggest conferences of the year was this summer’s reunion of Churches worldwide brought together at one event (amongst others). The biggest outcome: out of the two first women to be ordained pastors in the Middle East since November, one of them was elected president of the Worldwide Conference of Churches. Major push for the future since she is also the first woman pastor to be elected, or so says my source.
So back to my summer: meet Playmobil Martin Luther. He’s my travel companion and as you can see we’ve been places. Playmobil created him a year ago as a Limited Edition figure: he is found in Protestant religion bookstores and other such places. The Fédération protestante française, for example, had a blast last September by taking photos of the figure EVERYWHERE and launched calls for photos from the community. I, for one, took him on my tourist trips this summer: Etretat, near Le Havre; an abbey in the inland suburbs of Le Havre; Paris; Angers, where I forgot once again about photos in the castle-fortress; and Strasbourg.
Unfortunately, my stay in Strasbourg forgot poor Martin in my bag and my camera was more interested in Pulse of Europe. I do have however a little surprise… guess where this is, because it’s where I am for the present and future. 😉
Not yet? Got a lot of staring for this next one but this is one of the most important cathedrals of Protestantism…
Welcome to Canterbury, down in Kent, destination Chaucer’s pilgrimage and small, human-sized town 1 hour away from London by train. Martin Luther hopes to enjoy his stay and so do I! 🙂