Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy {by Eric Metaxas}

Where do I start?

Some have heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pronounced Bahn-hoofer) and even studied his writings in seminary.  Others, like myself, have never heard of him until hearing about this biography of him.

Oh, how I wish I had known of him sooner.

Eric Metaxas does an amazing job of recounting the facts of Bonhoeffer's life---and death---in his biography entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Without telling you everything of the life and legacy of Bonhoeffer, since Metaxas does it so well, I do want you to understand how much this man influenced me and undoubtedly many others.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German man raised in a family rich with intelligence, influence, affluence, and devotion to one another.  His mother, Paula (pronounced Pa-oo-lah), had a strong Christian faith and instilled it in the upbringing of her children as best she could.  His father, Karl, was a highly respected psychiatrist who was also an agnostic.  Remarkably, though his parents did not fully see eye-to-eye in their views about God, they greatly loved and highly respected each other.  Karl respected Paula and her love for God so much that he supported her efforts in instilling her faith in the upbringing of their children.  Not all of their eight children followed in their mother's footsteps of faith as Dietrich did, but they all remained close to one another and respectful of one another throughout their lives.

Why do I pull out the family upbringing of this 
intriguing, inspiring man who conspired against Adolf Hitler 
and was ultimately executed by the Nazi's 
upon their discovery of his involvement in the plot to kill Hitler?

Among so many things that impressed me about Bonhoeffer and his life, his upbringing is where it all began.
  • You just have to read how his father trained his family to not waste words with idle talk but to only speak when something is valuable and necessary---and to be able to prove any point you try to make when speaking.  
  • I want you to grasp how much his mother and father's love for and influence on their children impacted not only the lives of their children but ultimately impacted the entire country of Germany and even the entire world.  
  • I truly gained a new appreciation for and reverence of my role of parenting my young child. 
    • Who knows---he may be the next Bonhoeffer! 
    • Regardless, he WILL face life, as an adult who has to decide when deciding will not be easy. 
    • When he does, I pray my mothering of him will have helped to build a solid foundation for him to stand on and from which to make crucial, difficult decisions.  
    • I pray he will stand firm as Bonhoeffer did.

There is so much more in this book---in the true life of Bonhoeffer---that I would love to share with you, but, well, Eric Metaxas has done such a marvelous job of it that I will leave that to him.  Please do yourself and/or a loved one a favor and read of the life of this inspirational, brave man.

Yes, the book is almost 600 pages, so I know that may be a bit long for some to physically sit and read.  If so, get the audiobook as I did.  I listened to it on my daily commute.  Wonderful, valuable use of that time!  (Helps a lot with the German pronunciations, too!)

Because of reading this book, I have a new appreciation for and understanding of the depth of struggles the people in Germany endured in the days of the Nazi regime.  You will be surprised by a lot that you learn as you read this, too.

I leave you with the last scene of Bonhoeffer's life on earth as described by one of his prison-mates, Payne Best:
He (Bonhoeffer) had hardly finished his last prayer when the door opened and two evil-looking men in civilian clothes came in and said: 
     "Prisoner Bonhoeffer.  Get ready to come with us."  Those words "Come with us"---for all prisoners they had come to mean one thing only---the scaffold.
     We bade him good-bye---he drew me aside---"This is the end," he said.  "For me the beginning of life." 
"This is the end...for me the beginning of life."
Would you be able to say the same right now?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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