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IGNORANT GRATITUDE: Thoughts From the Bonhoeffer Biography

I bought a couple books when I went to Summit a few years back, but I didn't get around to reading two of them until  this last year.

They were powerful reads, that I enjoyed tremendously. You can read my reviews of them on Goodreads.

Tactics, methods and strategies for better communications and debating. Basically, how should a Christian argue? And what is winning?

Bonhoeffer, biography of a theologian who was involved in a large conspiracy to overthrow/ assassinate Adolf Hitler. 

In 1930 German theologian student Dietrich Bonhoeffer went to study in America. Among the many things he witnessed, he was horrified by the segregation and racism that dwelt in our country with the Negroes. He said, “Our Jewish question is a joke by comparison; there won't be many people who claim they are oppressed here.”

Though racism was a huge issue for Americans in the 1930's, we all know the “Jewish question” was no joke.
Time proved that racism was awful in America, and only through extreme matters was it able to become otherwise.
But few, even the people that were living right during the time leading up to WWII, recognized the horrors happening in their very own country. Another place was worse… it was “relatively good” in Germany.
The end results were devastating. We all know what happened. People refused to admit that something atrocious was happening, blinded themselves to the dangers surrounding themselves.

And six million Jews were killed.

Today we compare ourselves to other places. We are better. We have “freedom”. Our prisons are“better”. Our government isn't as bad as another's. Our troubles are a joke compared to every other country.
We say we think critically, even as we believe every lie we are taught.

“I'm so thankful for the freedom I have. I'm so thankful God is on my side. Compared to other places… we are have it relatively good.”

All the while we choose to remain blind, just as the Germans did to Hitler's schemes.

We do not have it relatively good. Saying thank you for the freedom we do not have is not looking for the good in our everyday life. It's good to be thankful, we are even commanded to be so. But turning a blind eye to what is true is foolish, not stirring up gratitude. 

Being thankful that the sky is pink does not make you more grateful, nor help the fact that the country is sinking into Satan’s grasp.

Be thankful even as you see the truth, and do not turn a blind eye to the wrong we are allowing to exist in our very own land.
We are focused on things that do not matter. 

Career/ Work/ Social life/ Friends/ Religion/ Diet/ Clothes/ Materialism/ Appearance/ Entertainment.

Our country is falling apart, and we are dancing as if nothing matters. Because “our troubles are a joke compared to the rest of the world’s”.

Life continues… because we are not “called to make a difference here”.


Truth? (Oh… that is relative these days….)

We are flirting with our lives, just as the whole world did with the Jews'. 

We are tempting God's wrath.

Every person was called to love God, love mankind. To allow evil to exist in your very own country is the utmost rejection of your calling.

These were some of my thoughts I wrote while reading the book about Bonhoeffer.

Not only was it an amazing book digging into deep thoughts concerning God's theology, I saw a picture of our current day world over and over.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer told people about the concentration camps. No one believed him. People weren't dying in their county. Jews weren't being persecuted. 

It was the Christian's duty to help, to love, to stand against oppression. People's lack of obedience to God appalled Bonhoeffer. How could people turn a blind eye to people?

Romans 13 was quoted in his face... his response? People were taking it out of context. Instead of loving God, following God's call, loving their neighbor, things God commanded over and over and over, people were lying back in contentment justifying their actions on one passage.

Obedience to God, he said, often looked like sin to religious, legalistic Christianity.

In order to save lives Bonhoeffer had to come to terms with this question: could he kill? Could he lie? Could he do all of this in a good conscious.

The answer was no.

He could not.

Yet, he would. Because one was to follow God, not a conscious.

And in that way Bonhoeffer could bear the guilt of deceit as he tried to save innocent lives, pastor and care for everyone, and overthrow Hitler.

He chose to follow God. He chose to be thankful about what was real, and recognize the crimes happening under the carpet. And instead of leaving the carpet their, he chose to rip it away and burn it.

He didn't hide behind:

"I don't have time for politics." God told him to love people. To make his time about loving people. Politics didn't separate this obligation in his mind.

"The Jews aren't being harmed by having to wear a star. Or shop else where. Just obey the law and they will leave you alone." He knew small tyranny lead to slaughter.

"We aren't to stand against authority. We are to be submissive." He knew we are to never turn a blind eye when others' are suffering. We were never commanded to watch as others die, no matter what religion or sect or man-made law they broke.

One dream of Bonhoeffer's was to visit Gandhi. While he did not agree with this man's thoughts of God Bonhoeffer said this: "It sometimes seems to me that there’s more Christianity in [India’s] ‘heathenism’ than in the whole of our Reich Church. Christianity did in fact come from the East originally, but it has become so westernized and so permeated by civilized thought that, as we can now see, it is almost lost to us." (Page 248, Bonhoeffer)

"Gandhi was not a Christian," The biography reads, page 248. "But he lived in a community that endeavored to live by the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Bonhoeffer wanted Christians to live that way."

Bonhoeffer's question says well what I feel, "Must we be put to shame by the non-Christian people in the East? Shall we desert the individuals who are risking their lives for this message?"

The times we live in now are no different than those of historical times.
We are still a people that choose to be ignorant and conceited, rather than true followers of God.
We would rather to be comfortable and content in lies than love anyone.
Time hasn't changed anything.
But the worst part? That the blindest, most deaf, most hateful of us are those of us that call ourselves Christians. 
We say we follow God? But why don't our actions meet our words?

For any of you that like Narnia, I recently wrote this fan fiction about Polly and Digory from Narnia for another blog. I had to answer the question, "Why did those two never marry!?" ;D Enjoy the story!  


  1. Wow, this was really thought-provoking. Thank you! I especially loved the "We are flirting with our lives, just as the whole world did with the Jews'." part.

    1. Thanks! I'm always glad to share what's on my mind, though it's often insane ;p Yes, that is crazy...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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