Wunderbar Tübingen, Deutschland

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We’ve been here before, but not since we’ve been lawsonsontheloose. It’s one of our favorite towns, home of historic Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (founded 1477) and, more important for our purposes, of Unterwegs, the Globalscope campus ministry here.

Tübingen is a natural location for Globalscope, which has been active here for a decade. Not that the university has a campus in the American sense. It doesn’t. Rather, the various faculties of medicine, natural sciences, humanities and theology, etc. are housed in their own buildings throughout town. In Tübingen, town and gown are inseparable.

Tübingen is a bicycle-friendly city. It’s also “green” in all the current meanings of the word.

The list of prominent persons associated with the university boasts some of Europe’s most accomplished:

Philip Melanchthon, colleague of Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation

Astronomer Johannes Kepler

Hans Kung, one of the 20th century’s leading Catholic theologians

Joseph Ratzinger, the man we know as Pope Benedict XVI

Poet Friedrich Hölderlin

Philosopher Friedrich Schelling

Philosopher George William Friedrich Hegel

Biologist Friedrich Miescher, who discovered DNA here in 1868

Protestant Theologian Helmut Thielicke

Theologian Ferdinand Christian Baur, who led the “Tübingen School” in developing the “higher criticism” school of Biblical studies.

Alois Alzheimer, who delivered his paradigm-changing paper on dementia at a seminar here. The plaque commemorating the occasion reads, “Alois, wir werden dich nie vergessen.” “Alois, we will never forget you.” Appropriate.

Not all of Tübingen’s history is praiseworthy, unfortunately. University leaders offered academic legitimacy to Nazi policies. Very early, even before that infamous regime began (1933), the faculty included almost no Jewish professors and precious few Jewish students. One source says 1158 people were sterilized at the university hospital. Today’s university bears no resemblance to those infamous days.

Of equal importance here to the above list of notables is my own list of friends associated with the Christian Church’s Institute for the Study of Christian Origins: Earl Stuckenbruck (whose wife OttieMerle is one of these bloggers’ most faithful encouragers), who established the Institute in the 1960s; Fred Norris, my colleague at Milligan College and Emmanuel Christian Seminary; Bruce Shields, another Emmanuel colleague and chair of the Institute board; Scott Bartchy, a Milligan graduate, distinguished professor at UCLA; Dennis Lindsay, Academic Vice President of my alma mater, Northwest Christian University and former Principal of Springdale College in Birmingham; Ron Heine, longtime professor with service also in Springdale College and in America at Lincoln Christian College, Puget Sound Christian College and Northwest Christian University. I’m leaving out too many; I’ve included enough so you will understand my feelings about this place.

The campus ministry office-meeting rooms-coffee shop-welcome center. “Unterwegs” roughly means “underway” or “on the way.” The earliest Christians were often called “followers of the Way.”

The foregoing speaks mostly of yesterday. We’re here, though, because of what’s happening now. Globalscope has maintained the campus ministry here for nearly a decade. In this secular university setting, these dedicated young ministers provide a safe place for students to ask serious faith-related questions, to find acceptance and develop a sense of purpose and a God-directed life. It’s gratifying to see former student participants in Globalscope now on staff, serving students as they were once served.

The team: Chris Godwin, Tyler Crawford, Julia Kopp, Tony Cole, Shalynn Crawford, Finn Crawford and the visiting Hat. Joy took this photo outside the restaurant in which we ate too much. Missing from the photo: the celebrating Max and Emily.

We missed seeing Emily Brewer and Max Faul. Emily is the team leader and Max a fellow Globalscope team member and former student. They are away for a pretty good reason: celebrating their wedding. In German style, they married a year ago in a civil ceremony in the States, but the real nuptials took place last week, surrounded by friends and family. I don’t know—you might have thought they’d postpone all of that fuss when they learned we were coming. They didn’t. We are determined not to feel offended.

Our home is Shalynn and Tyler Crawford’s Airbnb. They are double-duty hosts. They welcomed us to the wonders of Tübingen, meeting our plane in Stuttgart, driving us here, showing us around their city, hosting a delicious meal in their home. They are also our landlords, providing solicitous personal attention as well as every possible amenity. The room is spacious and well-furnished. The view out the kitchen window starts our day on an upbeat note:

The view from our Airbnb’s kitchen window.

My favorite feature of the B&B is the bunk bed. It’s no dainty twin-bed size structure. Each bunk has a queen-size mattress, more than adequate for the two of us. But there’s something even better. There’s a ladder, an enticement for any adventurous eleven-year-old (“You have to understand, Roy’s eleven,” Velcro son Brian explains. Disrespectful comment, even if true.).

Bunk bed with ladder and hat–and obvious reason for the Hat’s hat.

So I opted for the top bunk (six feet above floor level), hoping to prove I can still climb a ladder. I can, I did, and I slept like a baby on its form-fitting mattress.  Joy, poor dear, was a bit intimidated by the ladder, so she chose to make do on the lower bunk without my company.  She managed somehow. I expected complaints of desertion, protestations of how much she missed me. They remain unuttered. She bore her disappointment a little too complacently, if you ask me.

Our team dinner in Unterweg’s favorite Tübingen restaurant will long be remembered. We were all there except for the absent Max and Emily who, as I mentioned above, were otherwise engaged. Chris, Julia, and Tony joined the Crawfords and us. What fun it was to observe—and participate in—the easy banter and camaraderie of this talented group. They had a challenging year of adjustment following the departure of longtime leader, Beth Jarvis, who is in the Chicago area where husband Daniel Silliman is pursuing post-doctoral studies. She’s missed, but under Emily’s gentle guiding hand the ministry is prospering and the fellow workers are glad to be regrouping after summer break.

As I’ve indicated, we liked the team members just fine, but we were totally smitten by Finn Crawford, aged 19 months.

Finn Crawford, 19 months, on our Bebenhausen Monastery outing.

His parents took us on an outing to nearby Bebenhausen Monastery, built around 1183 by Rudolph I, Count Palatine of Tübingen, as a Cistercian monastery.

Bebenhausen Monastery and village

The Protestant Reformation changed all that, of course, so it subsequently served as a school, a hunting palace, and even housed the legislative assembly of the State of Württemberg-Hohenzollern. It’s a magnificent place, kept up by the State Heritage Agency of Baden-Württemberg (I love typing these German place-names. It’s even more fun trying to pronounce them. I only make the attempt when no real German speakers are around. They’d wonder what those ridiculous sounds I’m making are supposed to mean).

The buildings and grounds deserve one’s full attention. Ours, however, was diverted. It was more entertaining to watch Finn explore the premises, the various gardens and courtyards ceaselessly fascinated him. It was even more fun eating our picnic lunch with him. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are equally good when eaten or when applied as decoration to hands and faces. The oldsters in our group marveled at Finn’s positive disposition all day. Joy noted how much better he behaves without his nap than does certain company she regularly keeps.

Team member Julia Kopp volunteered to show us around on our last afternoon. She’s a native of Swabia, this part of Germany, a graduate of the university who now serves on the Unterwegs staff, and an impressively informed guide.

Julie describes the distinctively Catholic features in St. George’s a Protestant church.

Thanks to her we visited St. George’s Collegiate Church and the Tübingen castle, sites we probably would have missed without her guidance. Wherever we visit, we like to connect with a “native,” so we can get the insider’s perspective. Julia fully satisfied this expectation.

View from the Tübingen rooftops from the castle parapet.

The oldest building in Tübingen’s central marketplace is the Rathouse (City Hall). The original building dates back to 1435; it was then added onto and rebuilt several times: 1508, 1849, 1970s. Of special note is the astronomical clock, added in 1508. Johannes Stöffler, a Tübingen math and astronomy professor constructed it. To this day you can rely on it for the time of day, date, phase of the moon and “special astronomical events such as solar and lunar eclipses,” Wikipedia reports.


Doors continue to fascinate the photographer.
Bicycles are not the only popular form of human-powered transportation here.
As I said, a “green” city. This is the balcony on the Rathouse (City Hall).
We were walking along the trail to the monastery. These mushrooms stopped Joy. You can see why.
Even in an ancient monastery work is never finished.

9 thoughts on “Wunderbar Tübingen, Deutschland”

  1. Oh Roy, Cookie would be crushed to have been left out of the Tubigen list. She spent two weeks or so there and learned two words of German.

  2. We particularly enjoyed your tale of the queen-sized bunk beds and your visit to the Bebenhausen Monastery–as well as your infectious enthusiasm through the entire visit!

  3. What a fabulous trip you are having, You take us along on your trip. Sp enjoyable to follow you both. Continued safe journeys!!

  4. Sure wish I could join you there. Paul and I really loved Germany when we were there as a Airforce family in the 60’s. Blessings to you both,

  5. Oh, now you have visited my favorite place in all of Europe. Even though it was “home” for eighteen years, I learned so much from your blog. It was good to hear the good news of Unterwegs and to see the wonderful pictures.

  6. Fun to read about your being in Tubingen! And to see Dennis Lindsay’s name in your post! In 1980, on a tour with then Lincoln Christian College, we visited Tubingen and stayed overnight in a very old house there that was connected with the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins; Dennis was also on that trip! Love following you on these journeys!!! 🙂

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