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Thursday’s Thoughts ~ Shaping History

shapinghistoryWelcome to my very first Thursday’s Thoughts post!  I happened upon it this morning when I saw Sheri’s post about the Blogging Connections.  I found it very inspiring.  If you haven’t already read it, head over there – but only after you’ve read this, first. LOL!

I like the idea of Thursday’s Thoughts because it gives me the opportunity and excuse to write about something other than books and reading.  I love reading and all that goes along with it, but there is more to me than that.  Thanks for the opportunity to share.  Now, on to today’s question:

What event in history or historical person do you feel had the greatest influence on the modern world and why?

Wow!  There could really be so many answers to this question.  I am going to go with the first person who came to mind: Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press.

Gutenberg checking the work from his press.

Gutenberg checking the work from his press.

He and his invention made the printed word more accessible to all people.   Because the printed word was more accessible, literacy and education became a priority and a possibility for more and more people.  When people are able to read, they are no longer dependent upon others such as doctors, priests, and political leaders for information.  When you can read books, tracts, and political announcements for yourself, you can form your  own opinions on every aspect of life.  This opened the doors to religious and political change.  Additionally, education opens the doors to financial independence and personal achievement.  When it was no longer restricted  to the wealthy and privileged, that eventually changed the European and then ultimately the world’s economy.

The Gutenberg Bible, which, at 30 florins a piece, was still quite costly, made it possible for more and more people to hold and read a copy of the most sacred texts of both the Jewish and Christian communities.  This took complete control of the way in which God’s Word was read and interpreted from the Catholic Church.  Although this is not the sole catalyst for the Protestant Revolution, I wonder if it could have been possible without it.  As a Catholic, I appreciate the changes brought about as a result of the Gutenberg  Bible and the Protestant Revolution.  I firmly believe that challenging the status quo, immoral and unethical practices and policies, and ideas themselves is important and causes growth for all involved.  My Catholic faith and the Roman Catholic Church would be less rich without it.

commonsenseAs an American, I appreciate the printing press because it made it possible for the Colonists to spread their message of protest against the English Monarchy relatively quickly through newspapers and pamphlets that could be sent throughout the Colonies.  It wasn’t just the protest that was captured by the print culture.  How better to frame this debate and allow all Colonists to participate?  The tradition of Thomas Paine and “Common Sense” helped framed American democracy.  It lives on today and is very much a part of how Americans ever since the American Revolution debate politics.  Just because our print has become digital does not take away from Gutenberg.  One could not have happened without the other.

Finally, I want to highlight the world changing impact that Gutenberg and his printing press has made in my life: affordable access to books. I know that Thursday’s Thoughts are supposed to provide a creative outlet for my writing beyond books and reading, but with this question, it could not be avoided.  My life has been enriched in so many ways through books and it all started with Gutenberg.  Some of my fondest memories from childhood took place at or on the way too and from the Gaines Township Public Library.  There wouldn’t be free public libraries if it weren’t for the printing press.  Libraries would only be for those same wealthy and privileged people who could afford to pay monks to make copies for them.  My parents made sure that books were available at home, but without the library I would never have read the wide variety of books that I did.  As an adult professional, I can afford  to buy my own books.  Again, this would not be a possibility without the printing press.

Thank you Johannes Gutenberg for your vision and your gift to the world!

gutenberg

Is there any reader out there who doesn’t owe Gutenberg a debt of gratitude?

14 Comments

  • At 2009.02.19 20:50, Kathy said:

    You did a great job with that question. Gutenberg never occurred to me, but I totally agree with you. I’m not a deep enough thinker to answer questions like that.

    Kathy’s last blog post..Review: Run For Your Life

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    • At 2009.02.19 22:01, Sandy said:

      That is a very difficult question…what a week to start! I think I would have to vote for the guy that invented the computer…I’m not sure who officially gets the credit. Bill Gates? Whoever it is, hats off to him!

      Sandy’s last blog post.."The True Story of Hansel and Gretel" by Louise Murphy

      You are very right about the computer, Sandy! Bill Gates may not have invented it, but Windows made it possible for one to be useful and in just about every household.

      • At 2009.02.19 22:23, bookworm said:

        great post! Johannes Gutenberg is a wonderful choice. We do owe him alot!

        bookworm’s last blog post..Enchanted Again

        • At 2009.02.19 22:39, Meghan said:

          Good thinking! We all owe a huge debt to the printing press. Literacy in the middle ages may have been a bit more common than we assume (discussing this one now considering wide dissemination of certain texts, particularly books of hours) but most books were prohibitively expensive and we have made huge strides forward thanks to this invention.

          That’s interesting that it was higher than it is assumed. I could see why books of hours would be popular, particularly for religious institutions. I’d be interested in learning more about that.

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            • At 2009.02.20 11:04, Sheri said:

              I love Gutenburg… and, now not just Steve. hee hee.

              Did I tell you already how much I love the look of your new site?

              Thanks for participating.

              Sher

              Sheri’s last blog post..Book Review: The Triumph of Deborah

              What ever happened to Steve Gutenburg anyway?

              • At 2009.02.20 11:59, Sheri said:

                You’re this week’s winner. You get to choose the next Question of the Week!

                Sheri’s last blog post..Book Review: The Triumph of Deborah

                Yea! Oh, wait. God, the pressure! LOL! I will start thinking about what I’d like to write about next week. I’ll let you know.

                • At 2009.02.20 12:44, Sheri said:
                  • […] I really, really love Jennifer’s blog.  She just underwent a major renovation to her site and I just love it (especially the kitty!).  Anyway, her answer is totally groovy.  Go and check it out! […]

                    • At 2009.02.20 18:54, Kelly said:

                      Great post!

                      Kelly’s last blog post..Hail to the Chief Giveaway

                      • At 2009.02.20 19:05, chartroose said:

                        I couldn’t agree more about Gutenberg. I must say this again: I just love your new look! I can’t get over it–it’s so pretty and breezy. Great job.

                        chartroose’s last blog post..Tallgrass

                        Thanks so much, Chartroose! BTW, my Orlando poster arrived and, since I wasn’t about to hang it in my closet as my hubby suggested, I have hung it in my cube at work. It’s just perfect there. My co-workers love it, too. 🙂

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                        • At 2009.02.20 20:10, Wrighty said:

                          Wow! Excellent post! It was very thoughtful and so true. I can’t imagine what kind of bookshelves I would have to have if our books were made out of stone tablets! We do owe Gutenberg for his vision. I know I’m grateful. Great blog!

                          Wrighty’s last blog post..Your Blog Is Fabulous Award

                          Thanks so much! Stone tablets. ACK! Even Moses got tired of those, right? LOL

                          • At 2009.02.21 18:25, Elizabeth Barrette said:

                            Yep, I’m with you; Gutenberg had tremendous impact on the whole world.

                            Elizabeth Barrette’s last blog post..Get the Truth Out

                            I wonder if there is any historical fiction out there about him?

                            • At 2009.02.25 18:56, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                              I just loved this answer…congrats on your win!

                              Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)’s last blog post..Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich

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