As a Christian leader in Germany in 1933 when Hitler began his rule, Bonhoeffer stood against the Nazi Regime from the very beginning. This book is a very thorough biography that tells of his journey and struggles in being a major part of the resistance which led to his imprisonment and later his death in 1945 by hanging in a concentration camp.
Last night I heard the author Eric Metaxas speak about this book on C-Span Book TV. He covers many subjects which have been neglected in the telling of the story of Bonhoeffer and all the German citizens who resisted the Nazi Regime. So many were tortured and murdered if they spoke out or were discovered.
Bonhoeffer was a spiritual leader who sought the direction of God and at the same time sought to be transformed and to understand what his faith actually called him to do in the real world when faced with such evil. Bonhoeffer exemplified how to look deeper at scripture and ask the hard questions. He lived his life bravely and made his choices hoping he was doing the best thing to stand against the evil of his time.
As I glanced through the book, I read a poem Bonhoeffer wrote called, Who Am I? He wrote it during his confinement at Tegal prison. His honesty, his struggle with the reality of his own weakness against his desire to be transformed and to choose to act and live true to his faith struck a deep chord in me.
Though his reality was much more difficult than most of ours, I think we all to some degree experience a struggle of our wounds, faults, doubts and weaknesses against our love, truth, compassion and choice of action. I certainly was touched by the honesty of this beautiful soul. I’d like to share this poem with you.
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I use to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one who is accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
Compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for fiends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God I am Thine!
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I have taken this book home with me. Looking forward to learning more of his story. Peace, Jeanne