Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Printing Press

The Renaissance brought a new sense of identity to Europe and with it, an intrepid need to explore. Although these events are grand, they are merely the effect of achievements in mass communication and philosophical battles won by individuals leaning towards enlightenment.

A giant step in Europe's re-birth was Gutenberg's printing press  from 1450. Empowered with a new, speedy method of production, books were able to spread to middle class and below. As seen in history before, the primary objective became dispersion of the Bible. Traditionally re-created by monks in the Catholic church, the Bible's unwavering support provided even more momentum to the printing press advancement.

Although the press was adopted by Christianity in a way, it also helped redefine the religion and embody the ideas of Humanism. In 1517 Martin Luther fought for reform of the Catholic church knowing that he could only succeed by changing the minds of the masses. In partnering with artist Lucas Cranach, Luther was able to show the Reformers in a posative light.(Meg's p91) Using the press, he changed the minds of people across Europe regardless of spoken language or social status. 

Additionally, Luther created a rift between the idea of organized religion and idea of God-given religion. Although it was a return to the basics preached in the Bible, his actions broke the social confines created by the Catholic church. After the Protestant Reformation, Europe would no longer view Catholicism as the only option. As other exploration was happening, this was a major step in Humanistic thinking. Especially note-worthy is the overlying idea of individualism. Although still connected to God, Luther was divided from everyone else.

The individualism of the Reformation and the tools popularized in printing were some of the critical elements leading to the Renaissance in Europe.

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