Editor MNH: 7/13/02
Reverend Sondtheimer, priest of Muensterhausen, was not a personable man. But in spite of the fact that we made fun of his foibles he suited us just fine. He baptized the children, witnessed the marital troth of the couples, brought the Viaticum to the dying and dignified rich and poor alike with a Christian burial. During his Sunday sermons he expounded how we should live our lives according to the Christian ideal. Did we follow the straight path of virtue? Of course not. Next to every Bavarian village church is an inn and the temptations of the inn are great. This Christian religion to which Reverend Sondtheimer was our guide is identical with Christian civilization. In l947 when the great stress test came, when every house in Muensterhausen had to take in a German family expelled by the government of Czechoslovakia this Christian civilization held us fast in its bonds. We did not descend into anarchy, we did not kill each other. Let me stress, Muensterhausen and all the surrounding communities had no police. The closest police station was in Krumbach, the county seat. Therefore it was not force which held us in check, but Christian civilization. What is this Christian civilization all about? A prayer of grace (Babette’s Feast) expresses it in a nutshell: “Let this bread nourish my body, let my body do my soul’s bidding, let my soul serve the Lord eternally.” Our public opinion shaping businesses have changed things around. They have managed to disconnect the instincts, from their purposes, namely to create and maintain life. They have made the seven deadly sins into virtues, deadlier than when these “virtues” were still called sins. Lust, once was called a deadly sin. The church admonished: “Control your lust!” Now we are told: “Let it all hang out!” Once greed was called a deadly sin. I remember Ivan Boesky giving a commencement address. What is wrong with greed, he asked. Nothing, came the joyful shouts back. Greed was even supposed to be good for this country. Let us hope that no great stress test is in store for us.