Read online or download a free book: Not Lost For Words
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (20 Sept. 2012)
By: Rev Gunter Helft (Author)
Book format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)
This is a book essentially about assimilation, about adapting to the language and nuances of new situations and the demands they make. It is based on a life full of an unusual number of challenges which required such adaptations. Gunter Helft is a retired priest whose life has consisted of a number of unusual ‘:journeys’: and assimilations, any one of which would be considered remarkable. He was born in pre-Hitler Berlin in a Jewish family in which he was brought up as a Marxist atheist. He had no sense of Jewishness and his socialism has continued to be a guiding force throughout his life. He witnessed early Nazi atrocities and then came to England with his family at the age of 10 in 1933, without a word of English. Despite this, he went on to become secretary of the Debating society at his Grammar School in London. Sensitivity to the nuances of language has remained an important factor in his life. At the age of 20 he was told that he had been adopted at birth within his extended family, and the effects of the secrecy and the trauma of discovering the truth inform strong views on adoption and family relationships. He began a spiritual exploration of Judaism in adolescence, found it unfulfilling, came to Christianity through the evangelical tradition, discovered the more catholic strand of anglicanism and its historic links with Christian socialism, was trained at Ely Theological College and ordained in 1948. Both before and since ordination his primary interest has been in education: his ministry began as chaplain/housemaster at a Home Office Approved School. He served on the staff of the Church of England Board of Education and became headteacher, first of a church comprehensive school in London and finally of one of the largest (non-church) comprehensives in the country. He also worked in the Missions to Seamen and served in Japan and at their London head office. In 1983 he was diagnosed with throat cancer, underwent a total laryngectomy and other surgery and mastered oesophageal speech, to exercise a full retirement ministry at the altar, in the pulpit, as chair of governors of a large school and in educational consultancy work. The early chapters of the book deal with family life, adoption, emigration, immigration and identity generally, under chapter headings ‘:Who am I?’: and ‘:Ich bin ein Berliner’:. The religious pilgrimage is described in the chapters ‘:A non-Jewish Jew’:, ‘:Meeting Christianity’:, ‘:Finding a Theology’: and ‘:Ordination and Ministry’:, returning to the theme in the final chapter, with the contrasting title ‘:A Jewish Christian’:. The social and political theme is touched on throughout, but explored chiefly in the chapter ‘:The Swinging Sixties and the swing back’:. A section is devoted to the experience and interpretation of Cancer, and this is continued in a chapter entitled ‘:Life After Laryngectomy’:. More recently, he suffered a stroke which has caused severe mobility problems and he reflects on the effects of this on his and his wife’:s life. There is also a section devoted to experience in, and thoughts about, education. (The author’:s book about philosophy and leadership in comprehensive schools, From the Head Upwards, was published by Jon Carpenter in 2001) There is no doubt that Gunter Helft’:s story is of wider interest than only to those who know him or of him. Adoption, immigration, religion, politics and cancer are not experiences often found within one person’:s life, and those who have read the manuscript have declared themselves engrossed and enlightened.
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