Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thought for the day

In September of 1934 Bonhoeffer mentioned that he had heard that some in the Oxford movement were trying to convert Hitler. Bonhoeffer referred to this as “a ridiculous failure to recognize what is going on. We are the ones to be converted, not Hitler.” (emphasis original)—Bonhoeffer the Assassin?, page 232

<idle musing>
That's the final excerpt from the book. What do you think? Do they make their case?

As I mentioned the other day, I don't think so. The whole time I was reading the book, I felt like Herod Agrippa listening to Paul, "Almost you persuade me." Almost—but not quite. The testimony of Bethge is too hard to discard.

That being said, those who blithely state that he was involved in the plots to assassinate Hitler need to nuance that. The authors are correct to point out that he couldn't have been actively involved. But, he surely was aware of the plans and might have been more active than that.

Actually, to me the most compelling evidence for a lack of active involvement comes from the testimony of Bonhoeffer scholar Sabine Dramm. She maintains—compellingly, I feel—that the main reason Bonhoeffer was involved with the Abwehr was to prevent being drafted. He knew that if he was drafted, he couldn't serve. In Nazi Germany, that meant automatic death.

So, in the end, we have a man who firmly believed in pacifism, but felt compelled by the extenuating circumstances of the time to take on the guilt of going against those convictions. Ethics is full of statements to that effect...

By the way, while getting the link Ethics, I see that there is a Supplementary and Index volume coming out this fall! Lust! Desire! Of course, I should finish reading the ones I already own...and complete the set as well. Book lust! Erasmus is my patron saint—"If I have money I buy books. If I have any money left, I buy food..." : )
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Great thoughts, James. Without having read the books you've mentioned, except for excerpts from *Ethics* and just a bit from the other, I am inclined in the same direction. Hopefully in time I'll read them as well.