Friday, July 31, 2009


It is a beautiful, gorgeous day, and what am I doing--reading stuff about the Barmen Declaration and the Bethel Confession written in opposition to Nazification of the church during the Thirties.

It is important to note, that Christians were speaking out against the oppression. It is also important to note that there were significant differences in their approach to their confession.

This thing, I will quote from what I printed out:

"It is no accident that Bonhoeffer and Sasse eventually split over the issue of the validity of the historic Lutheran confessions, esp. vis-a-vis the "miracle" of Barmen, which Bonhoeffer stylized into the decisive criterion for the church's being church while downplaying the historic differences between Lutherans and the Reformed (cf., on the other hand, the statements in the Bethel Confession that denied the bishops the power to downgrade the authority of the historic confessions). There are, as Sasse saw clearly, significant similarities between the theology of the Barthian "confessing church" and the "German Christians"; they have to do with a shared and deeply ingrained unionism that favors present-day "confessing" over historic "confessions".

One thing I will say: I grew up in Germany, in the state church with its beautiful buildings, wonderful organs, excellent hymns, superb choirs, plus in the pietistic fellowship with guitars, witnessing and praying, with a complete mish-mash of teaching, which did not totally throw me off, because we actually read the Bible quite a bit and that works, plus the hymns, they work, too, BUT I will take the historic confessions any day over the present-day confessing, if I have to chose. (But do we always have to chose?) It surprises me less, that many just know that they are not Roman Catholic, that they don't believe any "formalism" such as sacraments, or trust any theologians at all. (Theologian is like a dirty word to some.) This is all very limiting. It is not the Lutheran confessions that are limiting.

Still, I am intrigued about the new confessions in the back of the hymnal I bought. We should talk about them. We need to know our own stuff, well, though, too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mainz / 2 Paul's

See on the pictures above two Paul's. The first one is St. Paul, depicted in the Augustinian church. According to the note, St.Paul was born between 07 and 10 AD and Pope Benedict has declared this year, 2009, the St. Paul birthday year, for all to celebrate. (I guess he could not declare it a John Calvin year. He is better off with Paul, anyways.) The other Paul is the little toddler in the stroller, newest edition to the extended clan of cousins of my generation.

Also see the facade of the Augustinian church in the pedestrian zone. You can see how it is wedged in between the houses. Downtown Mainz is very old and tight with narrow, tall houses very close together in places. They made me think of Venice minus the canals. (Not quite that tight). Of course, it is also close to the river Rhine.

See also a small portion of the "Mainzer Dom", Mainz Cathedral. We visited the Dom last time. According to Wikipedia it is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, therefore also the St. Martin's Cathedral. We learn from Wikipedia, also that a number of emperors were crowned there. Mainz has been a hugely important city. Was it not the simony of the archbishopric that sparked or supported the indulgence sale which then blew up into the reformation? Let's not forget Gutenberg and his printing press, which also stood in Mainz.

Also, see a little family member on a piece of art along the Rhine river, entitled "Noah's ark". It certainly looked like it was meant to be climbed on.

The ships in the Roman navigation museum are Roman artifacts and reconstructions of such. There were large Roman fleets in many parts of the empire. Mainz boasts a treasure trove of ship planks of such boats, so many in fact that they don't know what to do with them. There exist also Roman ruins, which I have not seen, yet, since they are said not to be a great place to take children.

Mainz is a very exciting city with tons of history, charm, modern flair and international connections. Everyone knows that it lies at the confluence of the Rhine and the Main rivers, which, no doubt, has contributed to its importance over the millenia.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Law suits/Ezra Levant/honor killings

They say there are two ways to really get to know someone: marry them, or go into business with them. I think there's a third: get into a lawsuit against them.

writes Ezra as he is threatened with another soft jihad lawfare suit. He has a good blog post about the latest one leveled against him. Every time I go over there I feel I should make a donation. I never have yet, but I might give in to my conscience one of these days.

A few days ago, we had in Canada an "honor" killing of three young people in Ontario. Some of our friends were saying: "Where is the national outrage?" "Where are our politicians?" They wanted us to phone or MLA's. Maybe I'll whip off an e-mail. Maybe you will, too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Boonstock tribute to Matt and Stefan

The local concert organizers were very thoughtful to plan a tribute for Matt and Stefan at the second (or third ?) annual Boonstock festival, with which Matt used to be involved, held just a mile from town in the direction of our houses. (We can hear the music quite well.) The red balloons were for Matt and for Stefan I had a chance to chose silver. Personally, I had to miss the event because I was in Calgary getting ready to fly to Germany.

This remembering is very sad but needed for everyone. Thank you, Boonstock, for all the care and work, especially Nikki. My prayers are with the town and the young people who also keep grieving.

"Child of God", the song, by Kristin Kihn

Here is the song and video created and performed by a beautiful budding young artist, Kristin Kihn, one of Stefan's friends.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


In Erdmannhausen we visited dear friends, ate lots of cake had a great supper and I even had some local beer. It think the beer was good; I am not a reliable judge. We had a nice walk through the fields. What is a great feature about living in Germany is that many people live in towns and villages instead of cities. A beautiful path through fields and forest or park is usually not far away.

1) regular field on July 11th.
2) "bio" field (organic) on July 11th.
3) "pick your own sunflower" for 60 Eurocents. What do you do with it? Put it on the table, they thought, and then put them on your muesli. The big barrel is for the money.
4) all the barns had solar panels in the region. These are for producing electricity for the grid. Apparently, this provides 5% of all the production of electricity. Every bit of alternative energy helps. In Canada we have an electrician friend who installs panels for a living. His own house is completely off the grid. (Erhard's electric).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moral dilemma surrounding Rhubarb

In Erdmanhausen near Stuttgart, the other day, I met a neat lady, H.S., who also works in University administration. I think one might have been able to talk on that subject a little more, seeing Martin is involved in it.

However, besides playing Uno together and with the kids we covered mostly vegetables and use of rhubarb. She kindly sent me this recipe for "Rhubarb-Torte", for which she will not divulge the calorie content per slice. Yes, seeing it is mostly butter and whipping cream, we understand why this recipe is a winner. Find the recipe below. Don't blame me, if it's not what you should be baking. And DO NOT ask me if I need any rhubarb. Rhubarb grows abundantly here and I have enough for the entire town.

H.S. also sent me the link to her congregation's website. I have to look at it more. Really, there is no excuse for not every congregation having a website of some sort, no matter how unsophisticated. I wish I knew how to build one. How should one get started? Should ask my smart daughter. (Sorry, I noticed the link does not work. Have to try again.)

Creamy Rhubarb Torte

Take 200 grams of lady fingers, put in a bag and crush with a rolling pin (or put in mixer).
Take 125 grams of soft butter
and knead the two items above into a mix; cool in the fridge (1 hour).

Rhubarb cream:
450 grams of cleaned up rhubarb, cut small; cook for 3 min. with 150 grams sugar, 2 packages vanilla sugar (buy some vanilla sugar in your store; it is a nice ingredient for most baking) and 4 tablespoons Granadine/Raspberry syrup. Puree, if you like it smooth.

Add 9 leaves dissolved red gelatine ( I would probably used two or three packages Knox gelatine; don’t have red colored, though. Get color somewhere.) and add to mix that has cooled a little.

Add 500 gram low fat quark (find in deli section) with 1 pk Vanillasugar and add under rhubarb mix.

Whip 400 gr of whipping cream and add to mix; put over crumb bottom and let set for 12 hours.

Shopping list: lady fingers, butter, quark, cream.

Friday, July 17, 2009



"Trauung" is the wedding ceremony. But what does the word exactly mean: "vertrauen" is "to trust"; "sich trauen" is to dare; "anvertrauen" is "to entrust". All three work into the wedding: to dare, to trust, to entrust. The closes I think is the "anvertrauen", to entrust.

The Bible verse is: "Gott ist die Liebe, und wer in der Liebe bleibt, der ist in Gott und und Gott in ihm." 1. John 4:16.

"God is love and whoever remains in love is in God and God in him."

The song is: "Herr, vor dein Antlitz treten zwei um kuenftig eins zu sein und so einander Lieb und Treu bis in den Tod to weihn."

Lord, here are Two coming before your face to become One from hereon, to promise to each other love and faithfulness until death.

"Sprich selber Amen auf den Bund, den sie vor Dir vereint. Hilf, dass ihr Ja, von Herzens Grund fuer immer sei gemeint."

Speak yourself the Amen to the union. Help that the "yes" be meant from the bottom of the heart for always.

"Zusammen fuege Herz fuer Herz, dass nichts hinfort sie trennt. Erhalt sie eins in Freud und Schmerz bis an ihr Lebens End."

Unite the hearts, so that nothing can separate them henceforth. Keep them as one in joy and sorrow until life's end.

A beautiful simple song. Chosen by a couple both previously divorced.

The quote below from Dostojewskij: "See, how joy and happiness make a person (Menschen) beautiful. How breathes the heart in love."

They were very happy and very prayerful and very hopeful and very beautiful.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Organ in Bensheim: some short and not very good clips of the wedding music

The hymn is sung in the middle clip. It was new to me and in comparing hymnals you don't find it the old hymnal, though the hymn is not that new, as you see. The melody, of course, is well known.

Tomorrow, I will translate the hymn book page. This is a page from the new Bavarian hymn book. I am very impressed with the layout, the Bible verses, quotes and pictures, the color coding throughout. The font also looks very modern. The whole design is quite inspired in my opinion.

The other hymns we sang were: Such wer da will ein ander Ziel die Seeligkeit zu finden. Befiehl du deine Wege. Herr deine Liebe ist wie Gras und Ufer. And one more. Forgot.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My last three organs

OK, Gary, I am yielding my last three organs. That's it.

1) My cousin's child's Playmobile church.
2) The organ for the wedding in Michaelskirche. The one I took my lessons on. I talked with the organist. She says, of course, I would have had my lessons from Cantor Miller. Which was of course, so. (OK, you've twisted my arm. There will be music samples.) (Oh, yes, I sang up there, too. Bach's Easter Cantata and Buxtehude.)
3) The organ at Christuskirche, Aschaffenburg. My mother sang in the Kantorei up on that balcony (Empore). The pieces she practiced over and over to the record player are forever etched in my mind note for note and word for word. (Mozart's requiem. My favorite part of the Requiem is "Lacrymosa,... dies illa, quam resurget ex favilla, judicantus, homo reus..." See, I know all the words still. Several Bach Cantatas. "Israel, hoffe auf den Herrn". How does it start. A psalm. Ah, ya. "Aus der Tiefe, rufe ich Herr zu Dir." "From the depths of woe I cry to thee.") Once they were even on national television for a broadcast service, which was a big deal because there are a thousand Kantorei's and there were only two TV stations, then.

It sounds like bragging, but these musical experiences in childhood are quite unforgettable. (Not that I don't like other music, too.)

Frankfurt airport

About the airport: there is an expansion worth 50 billion Euros in the works, I was told. It is already huge and busy. The slogan on the building is: Hessen, an uns fuehrt kein Weg vorbei. (Hesse, there is no way around us.)

The picture on the wall behind the old Mercedes you could win illustrates how the airport used to be. Our Dad used to take us there for Sunday afternoon excursions. I still remember how it was: small with that tower on the picture.

Just above the tail of the Lufthansa plane you can see the Melibokus mountain of the Odenwald. I was born in a town close to the foot of the mountain.

Oh, and the airport has a church, too. I read in the newspaper, that there are all types of church services held there and it often deals with refugees and waves of people coming from war-torn countries suddenly needing accommodation. There are plans for two more chapels at the airport. I actually walked past it and noted it had signs for the R.C. and ev. Luth. church. I was tempted to peek in, but it seemed like there were things going on. Busy place, all around.

Bells in Auerbach

There is something extraordinarily compelling about bells. They pour forth speech in this inorganic way. Just sound waves. Like a mountain lake scene. Clean, clear, serene, in this world, yet otherworldly.

They could communicate any number of profound things. You have figure it out for yourself. They call to something. But what? You have to stop and think. It could be a wedding or a funeral or a service or prayer or the beginning of the Sabbath, or even a meal. On Sunday mornings the bells still ring while the congregations prays the Lord's prayer. These are Feierabend (evening before the holy day) bells. They rang on Saturday evening at 7:00 pm for 10 minutes straight. It's like: finish up your street sweeping. (My grandparents always made sure the sidewalk was swept and done, last thing on Saturday.) (See the neighbor sweeping for illustration. You wondered why Germany is so clean.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

12 pictures for Gary

1) Stiftskirche in Aschaffenburg.
2) Synagogue in Bensheim-Auerbach. Aunt Christa belongs to a society that preserves the synagogue and opens it at times. I asked, but there are no Jewish believers remaining in that location. (I have read, however, that Berlin is a very popular place for people moving away from Israel. There must be a sizable population there, even a Rabbinic school.)
3) Michaelskirche in Bensheim from the Kirchberg. (That's where the wedding was.)
4) Vestibule of the big church along the main street of Fuerth. Turned out to be Catholic. Several times I noticed that since the churches were not being kept open continuously, you could at least come into the glassy vestibule and see it all from the entry way. This vestibule also had a little kneeler for your devotion. This particular church also had a big glassy addition in front of its main portal that contained an old red sandstone baptismal font.
5)Evangelische Kirche und Gemeindezentrum (Kindergarten, etc.) in Mainz-Hechtsheim. We could walk there. Had a good talk with my cousin on the way. The cross was in the back and the organ was in the front. I can't imagine being an organist with my bum to the congregation. Martin said: "Why don't they just turn the chairs around?" Very good idea. The man is used to solving problems.
They had a sign up inviting for a talk on Calvin that week. We also had a "Vikarin" preach that day. My first ever. I can't say it was an astounding sermon. A little summary of a portion of the sermon on the Mount but not much exegesis.
6) and 7) The crucifix in Christuskirche, Aschaffenburg. See, it is almost life-size. I thought so. Also took a picture of the head for Bror. The lady and I had a good visit and both thought the location of the cross was not right. We put a note in a feedback box. She thought such a "Kostbarkeit" (treasure) should be in the front even thought the new area is very modern. We also talked about death and accidents and losing children to them and she was quite enlightened. Very nice to meet her. Seemed rather gem-like.
8)Evangelische Kirche in Babenhausen on the little old market place. It is open for services on Sunday morning and for two other times during the week for quiet time.
9) 10) 11) Augustinian church in old downtown Mainz with attached seminary. It is not a freestanding building. It is attached on both sides to the other buildings. Across the street of the pedestrian zone was a store for women's underwear with window displays. I thought it was ironic, seeing there was even a RC seminary.
12) Wedding in the Michaelskirche in Bensheim.

So much for tonight. Gary, you will just have to come over.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just one picture

My internet is barely working. Here is one picture to give Gary his Germany fix. The trip went well and I uploaded my photos, today. This one is from behind my cousin's house in Fuerth. It was much cooler in the second week.

The flight was uneventful except for sitting next to a poor Ethiopian fellow from Edmonton, who had just arrived two hours before on the same plane to attend a funeral, but was turned back because his passport was only good til Nov. 8, 09, which falls a couple days short of a four month requirement. Apparently, you can't get into Germany with a passport that expires within four months. He showed me his passport and all the forms that were filled out. It hardly seems possible.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Last and travel day


We're going to church in Babenhausen. I don't know exactly what to expect. Then I'm taking my friends out for lunch in the Gasthaus. Maybe I'll have Bror's Schnitzel for him. Then off to the airport. My brother and his family arrive on the plane from Edmonton at 5:00, which I'll be taking back to Edmonton at 7:00. They figure we can kiss at the gate. Well, that's if I am through the check-in. It took forever in Calgary.

Meanwhile I've been getting ready mentally to re-enter the atmosphere in going back home to Edmonton. It will still be a big year of changes and decisions. I am not relishing having to quit holidaying and getting back to the grindstone. There will be stacks of mail and paperwork. It does sound like issues have piled up in my absence and my husband is in need of care and comfort, and ear and perspective.

The aunt in Calgary has died and been buried in the meantime. Glad to have been there last time.

It will be good to see my family and even the dog. Next time, God willing, Martin and I will go together for a longer time and see all his relatives.

Everybody is getting up now. It seems we are not going to the Gasthaus. Gabi stayed up late to make the lasagna. What can you say. Some people never stop working. tsk, tsk. No schnitzel, in the end.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bouncing around Germany

All is well. Right now I am in Fuerth, Odenwald with my cousin and his wife and three boys. Irmi and I went shopping at a big center and I bought some German books on CD. We also had a cappucino and amaretto torte at the Vienna cafe. Tomorrow, I'll see Aunt Barbara and Uncle Gotthold. On Saturday we are going to Stuttgart and that will be it. On Sunday I imagine we will go the free church in Babenhausen. Last Sunday I went to state church in Mainz with Marion.

I've been using quite a bit of public transportation on my own. Enjoying that a lot, since we can never do that in Canada. You can buy one ticket to take the bus or the tram in the city and combine it with your train ticket to another city. Everything is very efficient and you can look up everything on the internet ahead of time.

Nobody should count on my bringing back any chocolate. I am told that the maximum is now 2 chocolate bars per traveller. This is a new rule, apparently.

If someone wants something else, you need to let me know right now. I can get it on Friday. Yours truly, for now.