Stefan

I was raised in a small town in southern Germany, surrounded by a family clan of more than 200. You can tell by the size of this clan that my family is deeply catholic. Two uncles are priests, I was an altar boy until age 15, and my aunt predicted eternal hell for me when I skipped my first Sunday service ever at about that age. Now I am a member of a church that suspends regular services in summer, thereby condemning a whole congregation to the netherworld. What happened?

After the typical youthful gravitation towards atheism and cynicism, my post-graduate studies in Physics shaped my spiritual being significantly. All the success of modern science is based on Galilei’s saying, “let’s no longer ask why nature is, let’s focus on how it works”. In contrast to the reaction of some other scientists, my reaction to the utterly complex explanations of nature only increased my spiritual awe of the miracle of existence itself. I felt science itself is a professional admiration of the complexity of life. One of my favorite authors, the late Douglas Adams, puts it this way: “There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable [and] there is another theory which states that this has already happened”

I also realized that the majority of my uber-catholic family is a loving group of good folks that are relatively tolerant of others. And they are that way not despite the fact that they are catholic but because they are catholic; they have the common sense to focus on the truly good parts of the Bible. So I simply grew wary of folks that ridicule religion and spirituality in general. Defining God by a particular book written by humans still does not strike me as convincing, but not because there is no God. It is because I think that the miracle of life is so much more complex and beautiful than a God that could be explained in one book …

So I needed a religion that is not afraid of using the word God, that does respect religion and spirituality, that provides love and community, but acknowledges that spirituality is an eternal search and that nobody can claim answers. Is anybody surprised that I signed the membership book after just 4 weeks?

Let me finish with a tiny bit of physics. A central law in physics, called the law of the conservation of energy, says that the total amount of energy is constant, no matter what we do with it. For me, this law is a little bit like the scientific definition of God. It is this unchangeable energy that makes all the difference between intellectual brain gymnastics and the beauty of life that is around us.

I realized that I am in the right place here at this church when I heard a 14 year old stating this very thought as her credo in the coming of age service. It took me 30 years to get to this point; I think this church will help my children to think further …