Friday, May 27, 2005

Evangelischer Kirchentag in Deutschland

O mein Schatzi, O mein Schatzi, O mein hübsches Schatzelein. Du war klein aber Du wächst großer: O mein wachsendes Schatzelein.
I know you all have been waiting with bated breath (or baited breath, like my cat Schatzi's fishy breath) ... anyway, I know you've been eager for my latest report from the German Protestant Kirchentag (Church Convention) which is now in its third day. So I will not disappoint.

About 100,000 travelled to Hanover and another 200,000 are expected to attend a street festival organized for the occasion. Essentially, the church is taking over this major city for five days.

The biennial event is sponsored by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The EKD is a federation of German Lutheran and "United" churches. There is a direct historical continuity between these churches and the Reformation of Martin Luther. [Note: "evangelical" in all languages except English means simply "Protestant" and has nothing to do with fundamentalism!]

Leading politicians—including Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Christian Democratic leader Angela Merkel—have addressed the crowd. Schroeder and Merkel will face off in September in the federal elections.

In some ways, the status of the Protestant churches in Germany is the opposite of our situation: George Bush won't even consider meeting with representatives of "mainline" churches but lavishes attention on any big fundamentalist gathering. In Germany, politicians from parties from Right to Left are falling over each other to court the mainline Protestant churches and at an event like this the secular media are present in force. In contrast, any public event organized by Germany's fundamentalist churches would come and go in obscurity.

Much of the event focuses on social and economic justice—though through the lens of Bible, theology and worship, of course. The rising tide of frustration in Protestant churches over high unemployment, globalization and militarization is fully and openly expressed here. For instance, the Kirchentag's lay moderator denounced on Friday what he called "the romanticism of market-liberal" economics which, he said, "subordinates moral values to economic goals." This is a "fatal reversal of social relations." "The question must be reversed: "How can the economy be shaped so it serves the life of the individual and the community?"

Participants are also voicing sharp criticism for the U.S. government's treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. No defenders of the war in Iraq here: it was and continues to be unpopular in Germany. But other debates on economics and ethics are more broadly representative of the existing political spectrum.


At 5:31 AM, Blogger Bob said...

Andy -

My theory is that there will be an exodus of American Evangelicals from many of the most committed Religious Right churches and denominations.

I posit that the wedding of Liberal Religious expression/theology and Liberal Politics was a major contributor to the departure of many Mainline Protestants in this country. Now, the wedding of Conservative Religious expression/theology and Conservative Politics will do the same for American Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches.

In the American democratic experiment, the wedding of Christianity with any one political party/theory is doomed to failure - the two simply do not mix. Mind you, it is not that Christians should not be involved in political discourse and practice, but the declaration that God favors or sanctions one political party or theory or practice over another in this democracy is simply unsupportable.

By the way, it is about time you started a blog! :-)

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Andy Lang said...

Bob, just wanted to let you know that directly under your message is an icon of a small trashcan, which only I can see. I could click on it right now and make you go away! I love this power! No wonder authoritarian types like me prefer blogging to mailing lists, groups and chat rooms.

But I will allow your message to stand. I might even think about it and dignify it with a response. :)


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