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This review is from: Bonhoeffer (Paperback)
This is a work that should be read by everyone - religious or not. Although one of the myths the book does refute is the idea that Bonhoffer was not a believing Christian - he must certainly was (in the most traditional way). Bonhoffer was indeed a philosopher and a highly educated person - but he was NOT a "social gospel" (a Progressive in theology) in the American sense. Indeed he regarded such people with dismay - Progressives (in theology)in Europe he sometimes respected and admired for their learning (although he did not share their opinions), Progessives in the United States tended to upset Bonhoffer with their mixture of ignorance and arrogance. Their lack of serious study both of scripture and of theologians over the centuries, and their belief that they were better than other people - particuarly "fundementalists". A belief that was not validated either by their knowledge or by their conduct.
Bonhoeffer certainly did not despise the uneducated (or confuse lack of education with lack of intelligence - not that he despised lack of intelligence either - after all some clever people do terrible things, and some very ordinary people do outstandingly good things), but he clealy did have negative feelings towards people who made a big show of their education (boasting that they knew more than everyone else), but actually (under their big talk and long words) turned out to be both ignorant and rather stupid.
However, this book is a lot more than an account of theological disputes.
It tells the story of a fight against evil, but also of a man's inner life.
What is it to be good? What does this specifically mean in practice?
Should one always tell the truth, or can it ever be right to lie or decieve?
To oppose evil one must be prepared to risk one's own life - but should also be prepared to kill another human being?
The history of the events (the struggle against Hitler and National Socialism) is only part of this book - certainly the context of Bonheffer's internal spiritual and ethical life, but Bonhoeffer faced questions that (in a far less extreme way) we all do.
For those of us (such as myself) who have a strong "dark side" (or have been weak enough to give in to it) this work is particularly valuable. The example of how a man can be good - and that to be good does not mean to be weak, or stupid, or seeing the world via illusions, is very important.
I have two minor critical points to make.
The John D. Rockefeller who supported the Progressive (and supporter of appeasing Hitler) "liberal" preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick (a man who was more likely to preach a sermon based on William James than any James from the Bible) was John D. Rockefeller JUNIOR - this point should be made clear, the old man (the Rockefeller who made the money) was still alive in the 1930s, but he was not really in control of how the money was being spent (Junior and his friends were).
Also the "Will To Power" (with its revolting racism and so on) was not really written by Nietzsche - it was a distortion of the opinions of Nietzsche (especially as regards Jewish peoople) put together by his sister.
Minor points perhaps - but Bonheffer (with his profound scholarship) would have been careful to get these points right.