Karachi: On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Europe, the German Consul General in Karachi Mr. Rainer Schmiedchen invited the renowned German scholar Prof. Dr. Gury Schneider- Ludorff to deliver a lecture on ‘ The Reformation and its Effects on Culture and Politics in Europe” at Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on October 11th, 2017.
Dr. Schneider-Ludorff currently holds the chair of Church History at the Augustana University in Neuendettelsau, Germany. She has worked extensively on church history and published several research papers on the Reformation.
She divided her lecture into three parts. The first part focused on Martin Luther, a German monk who was founder of the Protestant sect of Christianity and was closely linked to the Reformation; the second on the reception of the Reformation, mostly with reference to the media; and third and last part comprised the consequences of the Reformation.
She also shed light on the effects of the Reformation on the music, art, literature, and architecture of Europe and countries other than Germany, such as Switzerland and England.
She said it was due to the media revolution that Luther’s reform program was disseminated rapidly, given the fact that the printing press was just invented by Guttenberg. This enabled the exchange of ideas and information because of the rapid transmission of knowledge that came about on the basis of the printing press technology. Mass printing of books, in turn, facilitated the dissemination of ideas far more quickly.
Luther, she added, abolished the distinction between the worshipers and the clerics. Instead of leaving it up to the priesthood to read the Bible and interpret it to the masses, she said, by having it translated, he enabled the common people to read the scriptures and interpret it for themselves.
Besides, she said, Luther’s Reformation launched a rapid educational drive. Lots of schools for boys and girls were set up in the rural areas, apart from the many universities and institutes of higher learning. Secular authorities, she said, were to manage these centres of education.
Luther’s Reformation, she said, brought about a harmonious society where people of all religious persuasions lived together in harmony and there was tolerance all over. The Reformation, she said, sparked off a rapid advancement in the arts, literature, and music.
Referring to the ‘cultural skills of Europe’, Dr. Schneider-Ludorrf said people learnt to live in harmony even in the face of religious differences; they had to get to know one another better to comprehend each other’s’ viewpoint and be tolerant; the Reformation formed the basis of education today; caused the unification of the German language and cultivated a conception of tolerance which was incorporated into the law.
The interaction between the Church and the State was highly beneficial to the nurturing of a harmonious society, she said. The historical lecture was followed by an animated question-answer session.
The lecture was part of ongoing German Cultural Week, which is being jointly marked by the German Consulate- General and the Goethe-Institute. During this cultural week which will continue till end of this year, different cultural activities are taking place including academic lecturers, musical concerts and exhibition of artworks. It is important to mention here that German Week is an annual event, which takes place regularly in Karachi.