Confronting the Past Part Five

In thinking about how to organize the content of this series, I basically considered two different options: Either a purely chronological pattern or a series based themes. Either way, there would inevitably be some overlap of the two systems. Since my own thinking tends more to themes, I am going to use that approach as the central organizing characteristic of the rest of this series.

Given that religion is the overriding passion in my life these days, other than my family, I guess we will start with a discussion of my spiritual journey. This also allows me to respond much more fully to a question I got on Facebook from one of my former High School Classmates. She asked me if I had ever been a Fundamentalist; I replied that I had in my younger days. My own personal Fundamentalism was both in the area of religion and politics. Today, I’m going to focus on the religious Fundamentalism and save the political Fundamentalism for a later date.

I was baptized in the German Lutherine Church in Musberg but I was raised a Methodist. Why my parents converted, if you want to call it that, was not something I ever discussed with them. I suspect expediency had a lot to do with it (see previous posts). As a child, I went to Church regularly with my mother, my brother and my sister. My dad almost never went to Church. I’m not sure why. I was originally confirmed a Methodist, probably at the Willow Grove Methodist Church. I have a gilt-edged leather-bound Revised Standard version of The Bible that I received from Jenkintown Methodist Church when I was about seven or eight for being very good at memorizing Bible verses. I think that that particular competition is what put me off on future attempts to do memorization of Bible verses. To this day, I refuse to seriously work on memorizing Bible verses, although I do enjoy other forms of memorization.
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Confronting the Past Part Four

I’m going to off on a little tangent today before continuing my memoirs. One of the problems that I see with contemporary American society/culture is the fear of getting old that permeates everything in our society. In traditional societies, and as someone with a fair amount of anthropological training I feel I am qualified to say this, the older you get the more revered you are because, as even a Western adage says, with age comes wisdom. In these traditional societies it was the Elders that provided the advice and council which determined the direction that society took. It was the role of the Elders to pass-on their wisdom to the younger generations- The children. And because of their revered status, the Elderly were not shunted off to some form of nursing home or senior center. Rather, they were an integral part of the family and the community as a whole. This is a lesson that I have stressed with my children for years now, I have no intention of dying in a nursing home. I want to die at home, in my own bed, surrounded by my family.

The problem with the way we deal with our elderly, besides the fact that we make them feel useless and lonely, is that our young people do not learn how to deal with death. My near-death experience caused Michael to have some serious psychological issues, that is something we are working on. He has learned too much the modern aversion to getting old and therefore to dying. Dying is as much a part of one’s life as birth is. Whether death is the end of everything or the doorway to a different level of existence is up for debate. I have my own opinions that it is more the latter than the former, but I am not here to convert anybody, so I leave you to your own beliefs.
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Confronting the Past Part Three

I want to talk about my parents a bit, after all, who we are got started with our parents. Whether we approve or disapprove of them, they are the primary builders of our reality. My mother was born in a little town outside of Stuttgart, Germany. My maternal grandfather was a tailor and my grandmother was a housewife. They had three children, my mother was the middle child. I suspect that her family had been in that area since Neanderthal times XP.

My mother was born in 1923. That means she grew up during the height of the Third Reich. I never really had a chance to talk to her a whole lot about that period in her life, all I do know is that she did, out of nessecity, belong to the Hitler Youth for a time. However, my grandfather was, and always, a Christian Democrat. He never joined or supported the Nazis and ended up doing a couple of stints in Nazi Labor Camps for his views. As I have said in posts elsewhere, my grandfather is one of my heroes.
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Truth and Reality

I’m taking a short break from the “Confronting the Past” series to recommend you all read an older article on my Christian Heresiology blog as well as the follow up which I just wrote. After you’ve read those two, what I’m about to say with hopefully make some sense.

Reality and truth are relative concepts based on the perspective of the individual. Granted, there are many shared facets to our perspectives, but each one of us their own individual perspective and no one shares exactly the same truth or reality. We all shape our own truth and our own reality based on our life experiences.

Confronting the Past Part 2

I seem to have given some of my former classmates the wrong impression in my last post. I am extremely happy and flattered that at least some of my classmates from High School think enough of me and my writings to re-establish contact with me. The main reason for even talking about this is one of my “faults” that I developed after High School is that I have become brutally honest, both with others and with myself. I feel that having managed to stay alive for sixty-five years entitles me to speak my mind and not worry about whom I offend.

Anyway, I was born in Germany in 1948. I was three years old when my family moved to this country. We first lived on a chicken farm in New Jersey for six months and then we lived in an apartment in South Philadelphia for six months while my dad worked in a mattress factory. Then he got a job at a tool and dye factory as a punch-press operator and we moved to Jenkintown where I started Kindergarten in 1953. In the middle of the school year in 1957, when I was in third grade, we moved to Willow Grove. That was momentous for me and my brother.

In Jenkintown, no one seemed to even notice our accents or cared that we were immigrants. However, the situation was much different after we moved. My brother and I were ridiculed constantly and frequently were called Nazis, something that bothered me immensely. I’ve never really talked to my brother about it so I have no idea how he felt about it. My brother and I are very different in a lot of ways and we handle things differently, let’s leave it at that.

I spent a lot of years being bullied, and I guess that’s why I was so shy and reserved. It was not until my Junior year in High School that I even started to come out of my shell. My senior year I emerged a bit more but it was not until I went off to college in 1966 that I really stopped being Bernie and became something else.

One of the major events of my Senior year, perhaps -the- major event, was the death of my mother in an automobile accident while my dad was driving home from the grocery store. I freely admit I was a momma’s boy and the loss of my mother really threw me for a loop. There are several weeks after her death that I have no memory of. The last thing I remember before the blanks is my mother’s funeral. I went to pieces emotionally and it took quite some time for me to regain my composure. I sometimes wonder at the fact that I was even able to finish my Senior year as well as I did.