Wittenberg was the destination of our day’s journey. Leaving Bad Belzig and our gracious host families, we set out in order to visit the historic town where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door, condemning the Catholic Church, mainly its practices of indulgences. This started the reformation, which produced Protestantism. Of great benefit to the common people of the time, Protestantism cut out the middle-man between them and their maker, which was nice, seeing that many would be meeting Him shortly due to the wars and turmoil that followed.
Driving through the country of Germany, spires could be seen lining the skyline. It seemed every place where a few houses were gathered, there could be seen a church of exceedingly old age, many times much older than the good ‘ol US of A. With this fact in mind, and also having visited my fair share of cathedrals and ancient churches throughout Europe, you can forgive me if I wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement at the prospect of visiting yet another amalgamation of stone and wood. I understand the cultural and historical significance of these places (being a history major myself, albeit quite a casual one), but I just can’t seem to feel what I’m supposed to feel while visiting these sites. At this time in my life, I find myself wanting to experience something more tangible and less cold and pretentious. I get that these buildings were built-in order to inspire awe and convince their constituents of the validity of their lofty believes, but at the same time, they seem so detached from reality and loom over us, looking down upon us and our existences, that I can’t help but feel put-off under their shadows.
As we arrive in Wittenberg, we are greeted with a site all too familiar-scaffolding. As we have journeyed around Europe, it seems that every town we come to has had multiple buildings, mainly ancient sites of worship, that are under restoration. All these extremely old buildings are bound to need repair, especially since Europe blew itself up twice in the 19th century, doing much better the second time around. Also, with the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation coming up in 2017, most of the oldest historical sites in Wittenberg are no exception, covered in enchanting vinyl advertising tarps and metal scaffolding, obscuring all else from view. I wonder if the tour company had taken this into mind when having us visit. An example of a tolerable museum was seen with the Lutherhaus, which had many interesting things, but at the end day, things are things, animal skins, inks, Earth metals rearranged in order to form some sort of meaning in this absurdly short blink of existence. After a heart-stopping tour (where, at one point, I had to check my pulse to see if my heart actually had stopped and I hadn’t died and entered an agonizing purgatory where I was forced to listen to self-indulgent tour guides who loved to listen to their own voices), there was time to do what we all truly wanted to do in the first place, explore the city on our own and discover what it all meant to us in our present lives. I can say that my previous thoughts on what matter to me presently were reaffirmed with a great afternoon spent in the company of great individuals and great German beer.
Well, I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to go with this blog post and I apologize if any sensibilities were offended, but these were my thoughts and I just went with what my fingers were dishing out.