The Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life (CLTPL) in St. Louis will host a unique conference called “German Days at the Sem” on Oct. 24-25 on the campus of Concordia Seminary. The two-day event marks the second of a series of 10 significant events, which will be held every fall leading up to the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation on Oct. 31, 2017.
The theme of this year’s “German Days II” is “Faith and Politics in Luther’s Land – and Here” and will address a theme pertinent in this election year – the impact of religion on public life. Scholars and prominent statesmen from both sides of the Atlantic will discuss the influence of Germany’s Christian heritage on its national affairs and the political life in the European Union. They will also recall the importance of new religions and neo-paganism in Nazi ideology, and the anti-Christian nature of Hitler’s regime.
One topic of particular interest to Americans in the light of the impending U.S. elections will be the constitutional aspect of America’s and Europe’s religious roots. “Similarly, the troubling question will be raised whether there might exist parallels between the growing role of paganism—and especially Satanism—in contemporary U.S. life and the ideological realities that prevailed in Nazi Germany,” said CLTPL director Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, moderator of this conference.
Keynote speakers will be Dr. Hans Apel, Germany’s former Finance and Defense Minister, and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Barry Anderson. Other presenters include Rev. Christian Meissner, national executive secretary of the Protestant caucus of Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union; Rev. Larry Nichols, a leading Lutheran expert in cults and Satanism in the United States; Professors Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe of the University of Calgary in Canada, both specialists on the influence of new religions on Nazi Germany; Dr. Mark Ruff, associate professor of history at St. Louis University and a foremost specialist on the Christian and specifically Catholic youth in postwar Germany, and of the struggle of Christians under the Nazis; and Professor Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of Rheinischer Merkur, one of Germany’s most distinguished newspapers. Several Concordia Seminary faculty and staff members will also participate.
The conference will also feature a Winzerfest (wine festival), organized in cooperation with the town of Hermann, Mo., the heart ofMissouri wine country; plus exhibitions and presentations of the Concordia Historical Institute, the German American Heritage Society and Concordia Publishing House.
“German Days at the Sem” will begin with a bilingual matins service at 9:40 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. The conference will conclude on Saturday with a Bach at the Sem performance in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. One of the works on the program will be of particular relevance to the theme of this event – a Bach chorus for the induction of civil officers.
The Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life is the successor of the Concordia Seminary Institute on Lay Vocation. CLTPL is an affiliate of the Seminary; its mission is to project Lutheran thought to the secular realm.