|The following is from the family history that I'm in the process of compiling for my children and
Somewhere along the way I became an altar boy. I never really liked the job very
much. That's what it was for me, a job. It involved a lot of kneeling, which I was never very good at.
There was nothing to lean on while kneeling to even relieve some of the load on the knees. It was a little
bit like torture, especially because there weren't any soft cushions to kneel on, and there never was any heat in
church at the time (There was no coal available to stoke the furnace with). However, even though I didn't
actually learn Latin (The liturgy still involved saying the Mass in Latin, and I had to learn by rote to be able
to speak the responses in Latin), I did develop an ear for it and even comprehended many of the words, after all,
many of the words in the German language have their roots in Greek or Latin. Perhaps because of that found I
it easy later to learn to speak Spanish. There were some benefits that came out of the job. I loved to
ring the church bells. One learned to be on time because of that, because it wasn't permissible to be late
I loved to be in the church tower and set the bells swinging, especially on days when the
larger ones had to be sounded one could at the end silence them by hanging on to the rope and be pulled up, way
up, right up to the ceiling of the ringing floor. I also loved to go up all of the way to the top of the
steeple and look out. It was the next-best thing to flying to be able to look down at the world from a
different perspective and to even be able to see down on birds flying through the air. Even the sounds that
floated up were totally different -- a bit muted, but so many more of them arriving at the same time.
One had to be careful not to be on the bell floor when the clock sounded, because when one was close
to the bell when it struck, it was painful to the ears. The church tower played an important role in our
lives. It was at the centre of our community and had clock faces on all four sides that could be read by me
accurately from as far as 2 km away. I demonstrated that ability to my parents on many occasions when I
showed them where we spent our time playing. Little did I realize that by doing so I eliminated all possible
excuses for ever being late for supper. I could never say that I forgot to wind my watch or that I couldn't
find anyone who would tell me the time.
I never got used to the smell of incense. Although I didn't find it to be objectionable, it
made me sick, and that's no joke. But I was involved in all of this for a few years and became a little bit
more familiar with the liturgical calendar. I had a hard time understanding what all of the pomp and
ceremony had to do with the teachings of Jesus. However, one of the benefits of being an altar boy was that
on the whole, it kept me away from trouble that I would without any doubt have become involved in otherwise.
Another one was that I became fond of organ music, particularly that by Bach.
From age-14 on I became increasingly less involved with the rituals of the church. But, I must
tell you, I'm sorry now that I drifted away. I think that my life would have turned out differently if I
hadn't. I think that my growing distate for religion was not the right road I took at one of the crossroads
in my life.
Quite seriously but I only know that now because I'm looking back if our family would have led a
religious life it would have had a better chance of remaining together. I thought that common sense, my
common sense, was better than a common set of rules. I am guilty of arrogance, liberalistic arrogance.
I failed all of you. I wouldn't have done so if I wouldn't have been too arrogant to listen to my elders.
When we look back, we can determine where we took a certain direction in life. We can only tell with
certainty where our decisions took us, but we can't tell if other decisions would have taken us to something
better or more enjoyable. What I'm certain about, now that I have had many years to think about it all, is
that a life without religion is full of perils for which there is no remedy. Religion may be looked upon as
a crutch by many people, however, we face so many problems in our lives that a sturdy crutch comes in handy at
Religion still provides many rules for people to live by and make them live a better life than that
which they would if they were to live without them and try to live just by secular laws. Secular laws miss
one important ingredient. That is that, although they are being created based on constitutions that in turn
had largely been created at a time when religion was still a part of everyday life of the majority of people,
secular laws seldom and these days purposely never include protection for aspects of society that at one time
were taken for granted and were enshrined in the religious laws that people used to live by at the time our
constitutions were written.
Few people have the moral strength to live truly good lives without the help of religion. Our secular
laws all grew out of the laws of the church, but they aren't a complete and wholesome replacement for the laws of
the church. The laws of the church are based on thousands of years of tradition and experience, with a view
toward the future (one should even say, Eternity. Right?). The laws of governments are based on what is
currently politically correct. The latter today especially most certainly doesn't include a view of the
future, but, rather, is currently an attitude of "live for today, and to Hell with tomorrow."
The laws of religion may seem wrong to many of us in many ways, but I think that they are more often
right than wrong, whereas the opposite most certainly appears to be true of the laws of the government. I
wrote my best thoughts about that in the appendix in the section on "THE
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE A PARENT" in my comments following the subsection "U.S. Supreme Court" at the end
of the article for The Liberator. If you want to read those notes, now is the best time.
I know that some will point out immediately that I'm contradicting myself, because I included also
information in the appendix (of the family history for my children) that would indicate that the Church
played an irresponsible role in the persecution of the Jews under Hitler. If you think so, think also that
you should hold your horses a bit (I love writing like this. It allows me to finish my sentences, even whole
thoughts, without being interrupted).
When Pius XII was the Pope, he did speak out against the Nazis and what they were doing, extensively so, but
perhaps not enough, and too late. However, when he appeared to be supporting the Nazis, he wasn't the Pope
yet. Aside from that, even if the RC Church itself or any other religious denomination appears to be
breaking its own rules, does that prove that those rules are wrong, or does it prove that everyone fails to follow
them at one time or another? I would rather live by rules that are right and even idealistic and use them as
a goal that I can try to achieve, than only to live by rules constructed by our governments, rules that are
clearly deficient and often impossible to meet, rules that violate the basic human rights of individuals and
families alike, rules that violate the sanctity and meaning of life itself, rules that are bringing chaos to
all of us.
What promise is contained in any of our governments' laws? Which of them contains one single
promise for a better life? Which of those rules constitutes a realistic or ideological goal that all would
want to strive to achieve? Is there one that we would want to aim for?
Let's just take a look at a comparison of the two major ideologies that are opposing one another.
On the one side we have religion; on the other liberalism. You may want to change some of the attributes
that I'm listing here and substitute your own for some, even add new pairs. But tell me whether in the end
the outcome in that table is much different.