Wake Up and Die Right!

Wake Up and Die Right!

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How might it happen that a boy of five or six would be tortured by the question of the existence of God? How would this happen, even if that boy were raised to be an atheist by atheist parents? If the boy was never baptized and never taken to church? Was never told about any religion? This book records the spiritual autobiography of a boy who, raised in a household which discouraged belief in anything religious, nevertheless came at a young age to worry about the place of God in his life and family, and suffered from intense fears that he would be condemned to hell because he had not been baptized. Looking back, here is the way the author describes his early years: qI grew up in a household with no place for God or religion. My mother and father were atheists. They did not believe in any divinities, and certainly not in the divinity of Jesus. Perhaps like some of their intellectual friends, they dismissed the idea that Jesus of Nazareth ever existed. This was in America in the 1930's and 40's, a time when scientists and intellectuals challenged the claims of Christianity. For my parents the questions of who Jesus was and whether he had actually walked the earth were irrelevant. qIs there a God in heaven? Is creation a gift to us from God? Does God love and care for his children? These were not questions my parents would entertain. Such statements had been denounced as meaningless by the scientists and the rationalists, who insisted that all discussions of God are pointless.q The author recalls his childhood swept by the cold winds of atheism as especially painful because his mother, suffering from the loss of meaning of the atheist's vision, sank into a deep depression and then into madness. She suffered a series of nervous breakdowns and spent most of the author's early years in and out of mental hospitals. As a child the author felt qspiritually bankrupt.q He felt he qcounted for little in my parents' world. I counted for even less in the larger world. I looked out at the vast universe that the scientists described and saw it as a frightening place. Darkness and frozen space extended for millions of miles in all directions, and there was nothing out there to comfort us or give our lives meaning.q The author was born into the Great Depression and went off to grammar school during World War II, both events exerting a terrible impact on his family, contributing to his mother's mental imbalance and his own feelings of insecurity. qI was four years old, q the author writes, qwhen World War II began. As the war grew more widespread and destructive, I watched with terror the newsreel reports of Nazi bombings. I listened horrified to the newscasts on the radio. Every week fresh issues of Time and Life magazines entered our house, and they brought new images of cities in flames or bombed to smoking rubble. There were close-up photos of the dead on the battlefield, of soldiers bleeding to death, of bodies on a beach. qI recall in particular a photo of a boy my age standing in the ruins of his apartment building somewhere in Europe. He looks lost, frightened, and utterly alone. He wonders if his mother, missing since the bombing, is alive in the ruins. Rubble and twisted metal are all that remain of the city street he had called his home. qTurning the pages of that Life magazine, a terrible fear and sorrow seized me. I identified with the boy. I feared what had happened to him would happen to me.q The author speaks of how, from a source he could not name, powerful religious emotions, primarily fear of a God of Wrath, took hold of him and qinitiated me into a secretive life I kept hidden from my father. The fears were brought into focus when I casually used words that had a religious meaning I didn't understand. The words were these: Cross my heart and hope to die.' qI had heard other kids utter these words when they wanted to impress one another with the truth of an assertion. They often said them when it seemed fairlAs I rubbed my nose in scholarly volumes my first year of graduate studies, I came to realize I did not want to spend ... a€œOne of the brightest students I have ever taughta€ is what we all hoped a great man would write in the recommendation letter.

Title:Wake Up and Die Right!
Author:Ben Foster
Publisher:Xlibris Corporation - 2010-06-01


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