Things about Germany #1: Church Bells

  • Posted on: 13 July 2014
  • By: Michelle

I live a few blocks away from this lovely old Lutheran church, built in 1906. And one street away from another beautiful Catholic church, also more than a century old. Sometimes I forget that I am surrounded by all this inspiring history and architecture and culture.

And then I am promptly, loudly and repeatedly reminded every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. And then at 10 a.m. And then again at noon. And just in case it slipped my mind, again at 6 pm. And if the glorious culture and history manages to fade from my memory sometime during the first three days of the week, don't worry, because come 6 p.m. on Wednesday I will be gloriously reminded for a solid 45 minutes.

No joke.

45 minutes. STRAIGHT. Of church bells ringing. Do you know what that's like? IT'S LIKE 45 MINUTES STRAIGHT OF CHURCH BELLS RINGING.

And it doesn't matter where you go. In all of Germany, whether it's downtown Berlin or backwoods Fahrvergnugendorf-auf-die-Autobahn, you will be within earshot of a church, and that church will have bells, and those goddamn ... uhhh ... those gosh-darn bells will ring without fail long enough for you to curl up into a ball and cover your ears and start rocking and singing to yourself. I know this from experience.

OK, I get it. Circa 1906, when there was no electricity, so no one could charge their iPhones; and no eHarmony, so church was really your only opportunity for scoping out potential life partners; sure you needed a communal alarm clock to let you know that it's time to hit the pews. But come on. It's a century later, plus some. Can't the priest just, like, send out a group text and be like 'Yo, church starts in 15, be there or you get an extra 10 Hail Marys.'? And then after the service maybe post an Instagram selfie of himself giving the sermon. And on Wednesdays how 'bout just a Facebook update saying the confession booth is open from 6-10 p.m.?

Yeah, so suffice it to say, I'm super not into church bells. Sometimes I wonder if it's because it feels like a constant reminder of my own fundamental Christian past that I am working hard to forget. But mostly I think it's because I am trying to enjoy a peaceful Sunday morning and it sounds like someone is repeatedly hitting a huge chunk of steel with a metal stick for close to an hour.