Mosquitos and Painters and Charismatics, Oh My

Posted on Posted in Ruminations, Updates

We slept like stones again last night and got off reasonably early for not too long a day’s walk, only about 19 km today. And, praise be, not a drop of rain! But just to keep things interesting—because you know pleasant sunshine through lovely countryside doesn’t make for an exciting story—we got to enjoy some of the forest wildlife, namely mosquitos. All that standing water seems to have given a chance for another summer generation before the fall frosts. It turns out that mosquitos are even more motivating than rain for fast walking, so we made very quick progress today, down the forested hillsides into the valley where lies Nürnberg (Nuremberg, as it’s spelled in English).

Nürnberg is the biggest city we’ve been to yet and probably will hold that record till we reach Milan in Italy. It also has a remarkable history. You most likely know of it because of the Nuremberg Trials, the war trials held against the Nazi leaders following WW2. They were held here in part because Nürnberg had been an ideologically important city for the Nazis, and that was because from 1050 to 1571 all the German kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire had their first imperial diets and judicial hearings here, so it was symbolic of German dominance.

Another aspect of the city’s history is religious. We have been walking through very rural and very Catholic Bavaria for some days now, but Nürnberg is a little island of Lutheranism. The city itself adopted the Lutheran Reformation in 1525 and even now the big downtown churches are Lutheran, including St. Sebaldus and St. Lorenz. Albrecht Dürer, who along with Lukas Cranach was one of the great artists of the early Reformation, lived and worked in Nürnberg for a significant portion of his career. There’s a Dürer museum here, and we had every intention of visiting it and relaying fascinating photos from it… but the truth is, even after the shorter than usual walk, by the time we reached our room we just pretty much collapsed for three hours. Sorry about that. We’ll make sure to stop by when we take the pilgrimage again in 2110.

Besides our exhaustion, we needed to rest up for an important date in the evening with Larry and Nordis Christenson. Larry’s a pastor and has been one of the leaders of the charismatic renewal movement among American Lutherans. Most Lutherans in America aren’t even aware that there are charismatics among us—and I’m guessing that most Catholics don’t know that there are more charismatic Catholics than there are all Lutherans put together! We were fascinated to hear his story and also how charismatic renewal has opened the door to ecumenical fellowship in unexpected ways. He also reminded us of aspects of Luther that somehow don’t make it into the received memory of Luther: his ardent prayers for and belief in divine healing, for instance, or his detailed instructions on how to perform an exorcism. As Larry put it, just because something didn’t become part of Lutheranism doesn’t mean it wasn’t there in Luther.

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