I have a confession to make. I love history. I don’t love it a little bit. I love history A LOT.
Since we began our confirmation/youth partnership with St. Michael’s, the Lutheran Church in Unionville, I wanted to know more about Martin Luther. After all, he came around a bit before Henry VIII reformed the Church in England and began the Episcopal version of worship.
The big question I had going into finding out about Martin Luther was: how did he survive being a reformer?
This may sound like a ridiculous question. However, it’s actually a very good one. The vast majority of anyone who dared speak out about the Catholic Church’s corruption and methods of worship from the 1300’s- late 1500’s usually ended up dying in a very gruesome way.
It turns out, the answer to this question is vitally important not just for Martin Luther and his reforms, but for our time as well. Martin Luther was not harmed for speaking out against the Church, because he put his words in print and widely disseminated his work. He had his 95 Thesis printed in pamphlet form and distributed. He didn't just send it to his Archbishop. In other words, the Church could not harm him, because all of Europe knew who he was.
The reason his words reached so many was the printing press. The printing press in its original form was invented around 1440. Martin Luther was born in 1483. He grew up with printed works. This means he was educated with booklets and books printed from a press. His was the first generation to have access to print on a wide scale. The result was that he understood how to use print to his advantage to get his message out far better than previous reformers.
There has only been one other invention that has had the communication and educational impact equal to the printing press: digital social media.
This means our children are growing up understanding the power of mass communication much better than we, as adults, are.
My point for bringing this up is, as a person responsible for communications, I'm realizing that I should not be frustrated at my 14 year old son's involvement with social media. I should be asking him about how it impacts him and how I can use it. Yes, I have to monitor and restrict as part of being a parent. But, I think our youth have much to teach us about how to get along and communicate with one another.
Martin Luther was a very smart man, but he very much was a man of his time. I look forward to seeing what will happen when our children harness the communication power in social media for good.
The most powerful thing a teacher, or parent for that matter, can be is a student. So, ask a young person what it is they are gaining from social media and how you can use it, too. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Yours in Christ,
Karen Rodgers, Vestryperson