mind expanding nonsense

Posts tagged ‘lutheranism’

Death Leaves Everybody In The Dust

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Don’t know where I came up with that one.   Maybe it was going to the funeral of a college classmate’s father.  He was 87 (the father not the classmate).  The trippy part was the memorial service which was held in a Lutheran church located in the mostly retirement community of Sunland California. [ I love how a lot of retirement communities have Sun in their name, like Sun City Arizona, implying that it’s always warm there which makes your arthritis feel better.  If I ever go to one, I’d pick Leisure Village.  There ya don’t have to do jack shit if ya don’t wanna.]

This Lutheran church blew my mind.  I was raised in the Lutheran church (aka Catholicism lite) as  a kid singing in the junior choir, going to Sunday School and confirmation classes, followed by a Lutheran High School, chased (but not chaste) by four years at a Lutheran college.  With all that Lutheranism, you think I’d end up pope or something.  But no, I back-slid while away at Lutheran College, and haven’t been back since.  I figured that being born once was quite enough, and spiritually have come to lean more towards Buddhism than anything else.

Anyway, while enjoying all this mind-blowing deja-vu, I looked around and found that everybody there attending was in their 80’s.  My gawd I thought (maybe because I was in Gawd’s House) that could be me in twenty years – if I’m lucky.  Certainly a bigger dose mortality awareness than what I was ready for.

That’s when I had my big flash that death leaves everybody in the dust.  Kind of a double entendre with the dust to dust thing, but meaning more like being left behind in a race when you decide to stop running and everyone leaves you in the dust.  The dirt nap.  You’re left behind and do nothing new anymore, just the same ol’ thing…napping in the dirt.

A lot of rock musicians have died young.  I listen to a lot of them: Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Stevie Ray Vaughan etc.  Sometimes I wonder, “what would they be doing now?”  What would Hendrix sound like in 2014?  More blues, or into jazz?  Who knows.  They are no longer participating in a meaningful way.  They’ve been left in the dust.

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Every other week I go to a meditation group where we sit for a half hour and practice Insight Meditation (Vipassana). Well I’ve found in some of the discussions after-wards, that a lot of the people attending were former Catholics, and still dealing with issues around that up-bringing. Our group could be sub-titled: a Catholic Recovery program.

I wasn’t brought up a Catholic. Nope…I was a Lutheran, which is kinda like Catholicism lite. You’ve probably heard a lot about us if you listen to Garrison Keeler and the Prairie Home Companion. Everything he says about Scandinavian Lutherans is true. I shit you not…My Dad was one of them, and from Wisconsin….Garrison’s got us nailed.

Without exploring the intricacies of Lutheranism, I think you can basically bring us down to two types: drinking, and non drinking Lutherans. You can tell the non-drinking Lutherans. They have a scowl on their faces and always look bitterly serious. They never seem to be having any fun, unless they’re all together in the church basement getting liquored up.

My side of the family were drinking Lutherans. And I found out how much when I attended a family reunion in Germany. Boy, they started early, and drank into the night. Even my 84 year old Aunt was nursing a glass of wine throughout the evening. The actual festivities started out by a waiter immediately taking drink orders, and after we all chugged one of those liter glasses of great German beer, things started livening up. And things picked up from there…They were getting bombed, (an expression that didn’t go over too well). My second cousin, Werner, who is on his second liver, had a glass of wine going all day and all night (discreetly keep full by an ever attentive waiter). Werner has a small fruit orchard. And what does he do with all excess fruit….He makes schnapps. Vhat else!

Half of Germany is filled with good Lutherans. It’s the state religion, and you gotta pay an annual fee whether you actually attend or not. [ I would prefer more of a user fee if I lived over there.] The others are good Catholics. Still there’s that same distinction between the two types.

Here’s a little horror story about non-drinking Lutherans. We visited Dresden while in Germany, and just had to see the Frauenkirche; literally… Church Of Our Lady (sounds pretty catholic-y to me). It’s a totally re-built and restored Lutheran Cathedral. [ FYI: Dresden was totally destroyed by fire bombs in WWII, and since, been restored to it’s former glory……Danke Schoen America]. We went inside and it was gorgeous; bright expansive, beautiful. People were starting to gather inside around noon; we thought for an organ recital. Wrong! It was for a church service. And although we were in the back of the church, we were trapped. The doors were shut, and guards (sober looking individuals) posted. The thought of sitting through another Lutheran service (in German) was not what I had in mind as the high-lite of our Dresden experience. How we gonna get outta here? Well the wife, having come from the non-drinking side, started coughing. Occasionally at first, and then growing in intensity, till she was about to have a luggie-hocking fit. We all fained concerned, and rushed her to the door. The twelve stepper manning the exit let us out, and pronto….we were free at last. Thank God we were free at last.!!!

The wife sure learned a lot in them church basements. And I sure learned a lot from her. So, in conclusion, I’d like to make a toast to my fellow Lutherans (Once a Lutheran…Always a Lutheran). “Prost!” , “Cheers”, “Drink up”. To the other half, “Chill-out”.

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