Fascination at Bad Boll
Everyone should know at least something of this place. Theology, public policy and history nerds particularly. Something is happening in Bad Boll that should be paid attention to!
For some of the pictures I’m attaching it helps if you can read German, as those with text are in German. (I can’t read the German much myself without heavy use of a dictionary. But I know some of the history and context from before, from the pertinent website, and conversation while in Bad Boll last week. Oh… Where is Bad Boll? About 25 miles from Ulm, less than an hour from Stuttgart and a little over an hour from Munich – the beautiful region of southern Germany. “Bad” isn’t bad, by the way, but “bath” – originally a spa or retreat center, which it still is in one sense.)
The website is that of the Evangelische Akademie in Bad Boll. (Your browser will probably give an option to translate the pages, though you should realize programmed translation from German is often distorted because of word order and grammar differences.) There is nothing quite like it in the USA, to my knowledge. I believe it is a model Americans should look at, learn from and perhaps emulate.
Since 1945 it has been a place where Germans could gather for healing their nation and seeking positive ways to apply the best of business and scientific knowledge to societal problems, while also including spirituality and religious institutions. While it’s common in the US to think of Germany as highly secular and its churches weak and often figuratively “dead”, we’re wrong to think positive religious and spiritual influence is gone or nearly so in Germany.
It’s very tough for us Americans to grasp how something like the Evangelische Akademie and its sister organizations can and do work productively because churches, structures of governance, and views of religion are so different in the two countries.
I’ll let this brief introduction suffice for now and post again, hopefully soon, some more interesting and important history that will explain some of the pictures at least a bit. If anyone wants to get a little insight on this right away, they can check the Wikipedia article on Christoph Blumhardt.
His father, a noted pastor of the time, bought it about 1852, and together with Christoph, expanded it and evolved its mission in a broader societal direction until Christoph died in 1919. After WWII, it became the first of many similar institutes in Germany which were dedicated to lessons from the war and building a healthy German economy and society in a holistic way, involving church leaders with other professionals. (The first working event included Pastor Martin Niemoller, of note as a leader of the “Confessing Church” which opposed Hitler.) Enjoy the rest of the pictures and watch for more in a few days.