|An industrious scene by St Martin-in-the-Fields last night as the Martin Luther Gate arrives in London|
Yeah, it’s a gate. Or a portal if you prefer.
It’s a gate that’s on the move. A moving target. It started in Genoa in Italy in November. It’ll finish its travels in Berlin in May. Earlier this week it was in Cambridge and Liverpool. From here, London, it heads off to Vyborg in Denmark. And it’ll just keep on truckin’ until it crosses the finish line in Berlin next May.
Only gonna be here, in London, for one day (today, 25th February 2017). So, a pop-up gate. You wanna see it — pass through it – sit down there for a minute – it’s in that little plaza there on the north side of St. Martin-in-the-Fields (on the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square). It’s linked with an exhibition – a one day exhibition – in the southwest corner of Trafalgar Square. The exhibition’s “venue” is a truck (that’ll be parked there in Trafalgar Square).
It’s all part of the World Reformation Exhibition “Gates of Freedom.”
It’s about European reformation in 2017 – well, European reformation ideas as advanced by churches, groups and civic organisations.
2017 because this year is the 500th anniversary of the capital R Reformation, of Martin Luther nailing his “95 theses” to the gates of Castle Church in Wittenberg.
If you’re brutally honest the whole world-changing – or at least European-changing – episode would be, were you to draw it, an adult search-and-find story. With filthy lucre being the hidden object in each panel. There’s the Dominican monk Johann Tetzel – Tetzel the Pretzel – selling indulgences in and around Wittenberg. Tetzel could sell. He told people that what he was flogging could redeem the sins of the kaput. He had a line of patter that would have done a Petticoat Lane cockney barker proud: "Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory heavenward springs!"
And of course the bind was that Martin Luther, the priest of Castle Church, was getting fewer volk going into confession in his church. Which meant fewer shekels in the offering box.
Spot those shiny gold things in the search-and-find story?
One thing led to another led to a hammering on a gate – well, a church door, in Wittenberg in 1517.
And it’s 500 years later and we’ve got a gate – just for 24 hours – beside a church door in central London.
A gate, our temporary gate I mean – a portal – because a gate and the nailing thereon was the trigger point for the Reformation. But a gate also symbolises, if you will, our passage through time. Through the portal we can think about the 500th anniversary – the 500th anniversary! Pretty damn remarkable when you think about it – of the Reformation.
Anyway, you want to read more, maybe take a look at the R2017.org website.
But, yeah, that’s what that (ever so temporary) wooden gate or portal in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church Path is all about.
Now ya know.
P.S. my personal favourite fragment of the whole thing is the legend in the corner of the banner hanging from the cross beam of the portal: “Do not obey anybody” [attributed to Martin Luther]. He was pumping that kind of stuff out in 1517 no wonder the authorities regarded him as poison. I’d have a pint with him. Buy him a dunkel or two and get him givin’ ‘em hell. Praise the Lord, damn the Pretzel and pass the dunkel.
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