Effects of Reformation still visible 500 years later

Autumn Dahl, theater senior, and Alex Collins, theater senior, perform in CSC.  After the theater students performed a scene about the Reformation, about 50 students gathered in Comanche Suits to attend the second half of the 500-Year Reformation presentation, including two panel discussions. “One of the things we’re trying to promote with these round-table conversations is the memory of the Reformation—how it continues 500 years later to affect us in ways you wouldn’t even guess,” Tiffany Ziegler, assistant history professor, said. On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther is believed to have nailed 95 theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church. Luther’s criticism led to the split with the Roman Catholic Church which then lead to the birth of Protestantism.Photo by Elias Maki

The 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses took center focus throughout the day with exhibits on the Reformation to a reenactment of posting the theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Among the exhibits and reenactments, faculty members discussed the Reformation and how it still has an impact on society.

The Oct. 31 roundtable opened with comments from Brian Levack, keynote speaker, who gave a brief overview stating that the alleged nailing of the 95 these gave way to a split to the Roman Catholic Church and gave way to Protestantism.

Tariq Roberts, psychology sophomore, said he found the roundtable very informative.

“My knowledge of Martin Luther prior to the panel was very basic and didn’t extend past knowing that this person exists,” Roberts said. “It was nice hearing in detail his actions and the effect they had on our modern society.

Yvonne Franke, assistant professor of German, said her native country of Germany felt effects of the Reformation. Franke commented on how the celebration of Christmas changed from before the Reformation to after the Reformation.

Christian Love and Autumn Dahl, both theater students, perform the Reformation in Clark Student Center Oct. 31. Photo by Bradley Wilson

“Prior to the Reformation we would celebrate Saint Nicholas on Dec. 6,” Franke said. “But because of the Reformation, Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 24 in respect to the birth of Jesus.”

Sally Henschel, assistant professor of English, said these reformations from Luther that caused concerns and criticisms about the church can be compared to the heated debates that take place today through social media.

“These criticisms and concerns posted to the door was in a sense the first real social media movement,” Henschel said.

Elizabeth Machunis-Masuoka, instructor in biology, added to the discussion by explaining how with this reformation that Protestants were among the first to question tradition. Protestants challenged and demanded change and expansion of horizons in their religion, but now are largely ones that reject the idea of change says Machunis-Masuoka.

“Protestants where the first to let the genie out of the bottle, but now are the ones that are trying to shove him back in,” Machunis-Masuoka said.

The roundtable discussion allowed for students to hear thoughts and ideas from the faculty on campus regarding the Reformation that was initiated 500 years ago. The overall impression of the discussion was that Martin Lurther is just like today’s leaders in that he wasn’t perfect and it inspires discussion said Sharon Mucker, vocal performance senior.

“Martin Luther encouraged discussion and spreading of ideas, and that is something we can and should always do more of in our everyday lives,” Mucker said.

“Reformation 500 Celebration”
Keynote address: Brian Levack, “Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and the Causes of the Reformation”
Faculty roundtable participants: Brian Levack, Yvonne Frank, Sharon Arnoult, Sally Henschel, Elizabeth Machunis-Masuoka, Peter Fields, Tiffany Ziegler, Matthew Luttrell, Dirk Lindemann, Nathan Jun, Donavan Irven