Reflections on Wittenberg

In Europe, religion has been losing its importance for quite some time. At one time, the catholic church would choose who the rulers of Europe were, and they had a “divine right” to rule. That monarchy has now almost completely disappeared aside from a few symbolic positions. I don’t know the exact reason this has happened but when the nobility no longer requires people to be of the same religion, the importance of religion to the average person will be much lower. Also, the horrors of war in Europe probably led many to question their beliefs. In their minds God is either not all-loving because he lets terrible things happen, or he is not all-powerful and cannot stop bad things from happening.

I would wager that this will probably happen in America, but not to the same extent.

Reflections on Köln

The high mass at the Cologne cathedral was something completely foreign to me. I have gone to christian reformed church services my whole life so it was very interesting. The differences were many. The most obvious was that it was in primarily German and Latin. There were a great number of traditions that I had never seen. Most of these traditions seemed pointless to me. While they might create a sense of reverence, I don’t think that they would make God any happier than an normal service in an average church.

Every day thousands of people visit the Cathedral and I think that is fine. While in the service the people waiting were noticeable, however; they were not disruptive for me. Also, though the cathedral is a beautiful place, it is not any holier than any other place of worship. Additionally, if the beauty of the cathedral manages to bring even one tourist to God then it is worth it to keep the doors open.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Holocaust Museum

During my time in high school and college I have had to read a fair amount of Holocaust literature. So in the first part of the museum there it was a timeline that I already knew fairly well. The rest of the museum was filled with personal stories of families and the destruction that the Holocaust caused. This part affected me quite a bit. Suddenly I could put myself in the shoes of a person who was unlikely to see the rest of their family ever again and likely lose their own life. The amount of suffering recorded was terrible.

At the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp I was confronted with a place that caused incomprehensible suffering. While there I walked up the the main gate tower that an officer would have stood to look out over the camp. It made me realize that the people who caused the suffering were real people. It also made me wonder how somebody could come to the state of mind where they believed it was right to cause so much suffering. Places like Sachsenhausen and the Holocaust museum are so important because they prevent something like the Holocaust from ever happening again. Despite being depressing experience, I would say that journeying to these places is something important for everyone to do.