tv Book TV CSPAN December 19, 2010 1:00am-2:15am EST
one another as human beings. but i also know that this is not the epees sense of our being -- essence of our being. we respond to horror to what is terrific because horror is not the essence of our being. >> are you also a resident of south africa? >> i am not. i'm a resident of alex andrea, virginia. >> how long have you lived in the states? >> more than five years. but i'm only 23. >> do you miss home? >> yes, i do. i miss home a lot. but in my role as the executive director as the tutu institute, i get to go home against one a year taking groups with me on pilgrimage. >> moe -- mpho tutu is a author,
glass of water. hhis i you didn't know when you decided to come that he would be part o the national tv studio audienced did you know that?h and you each get $200, am ian right?g c-span is going to cover this for you. had a good time.yo maybe not. you will have to take that up at c-span. it is spectacular to be in queens. in will tell you why.hy i grew up about 3 miles from here in jacksonr heights. i was born in astoria. i am greek and german. i should get this out front. i am greek since my surname metaxas and half german hands mm deep love for siegfried and roy. thank you. but, all greeks have to be bornk in astoria which is part of the whole thing. i was born in astoria but of course they moved to jackson heights is in his we could get out of astoria, but yeah i did
grow up in jackson heights so it is a real joy to be here soo close to where i grew up. i want to talk about how i came to write the book on bonhoeffer and then we will have plenty of time for q&a. if you have questions i would ask you to take them outside pleas because there is a camera here and we can go there.er versailles want to tell you how i came to write a book on bonhoeffer. i confess i had never heard of bonhoeffer until 1988.r i was raised in the greek orthodox church. actually right here in corona queens, which is basically around the corner here. went to the parochial schoolc there. but as was the case with many people raised in the church, you don't really, he don't take it so seriously. is part of the -- part of a cultural experience so for me i was roughly about being greekly and less about being an orthodox christian. it was a delightful experience, wonderful community but it
wasn't until after yale and by the way if you are thinking of jettisoning whatever faith you have you might think about going to yale university. that is a bitter joke. but it is extremely secular and if you have a serious biblical faith that is not the place to nurture it. so i graduated yale, not exactly full of joy and meaning and i was looking for the meaning of life and trying to be a writer and by the way i don't recommend that combination.er. my plan was to flounder for al few years and i was very good at that actually but then i put that aside and i stop plunderig and i began to drift, very different. very different. then i drifted and floundered together because they knew how to do them both and that iste harder than you think so don'tg look down your nose at me.do it was around 1988, had been out of deal for a unique -- fewa
years that i came back to a seriousb state and it was during this time the guy who wasr sharing with me about the bible and all these things that i sura couldn't possibly be true and suddenly i'm thinking boy theres are a lot of intellectual arguments.l how come i've never heard thisds stuff? in the midst of of the search he hands me a copy of bonhoeffer's delightful book. i'd never read anything like this and if you read a book like that you realize boy there areo people of incredibly serious faith who are brilliant and who write about it in a way that i had never thought possible. so i was very moved by the book and my friends that have you ever heard of bonhoeffer? know i've never heard of bonhoeffer. he tells me bonhoeffer is a german who because of his faitha in jesus christ, a seriouss question, stood up to the not season stood up for the and was killed in a concentration camp in 19453 weeks before the end oh
the war. tragic but i remember beingm amazed by the story and i remember thinking how come iv have never heard this story before. i was annoyed. why have i never heard the story, story of a chairman whot stands up for the jews and goes to his death in a concentration camp. thesed are the kinds of storiest that would be nice to hear ifd you actually heard them.wha i was really moved by this layer to mention because i am german.m my mother is german, grew up during this horrible time and it know it from bad point of view. my grandfather i can say bluntly was a reluctant german soldier.a my grandmother would tell me the stories of how he would listenhe to the bbc wasn't -- with hisss ear literally pressed against the radio speaker because if you were caught listening to the bbc you could be sent to a concentration camp. at age 31 he was sent away from his children to fight in a war that i know he didn't believe in an obvious that many germansy
didn't believe them but that is anothert story.he and he was killed at the age of 31. my mother was mine, so for germans, for many germans and certainly for my family this was a huge tragedy, this period and a great mystery. ministry.m in was always a mystery for me to try to fathom how it is possible, how did this happen? what does god say to how thish happen? what do we say as human beings? what is our understanding of what is humanity that we would allow something like this to happen? this question always captivated me.y i even remember my mother when l we were living here in jackson heights on 91st street and northern boulevard, she was friends with a german woman on our same floor, mrs. weingarten. and she of course was german and jewish and i remember my mother talking to her once. she showed me, mrs. weingarten, showed me the tattoo on her armt
at age six or seven i didn't know what that meant of course now i understand a little bit more but this is a part of many peoples lives and to try to understand how this happened. when i heard the story oft bonhoeffer i was really as i said captivated by it.a i never thought that i would write a biography of on hoffer and i never thought i would write a biography about anybody. the way that came about was just a few yearsw ago i was on cnn talking about, and wrote a book with a ridiculous title everything uis wanted to knowd about god but were afraid tok ask. not literally everything. the three volumes, it does inn the three but i just was talkino on cnn and the woman on cnn asked me what about this page where you mention william wilberforce. i haven't dimension in the book about this man had to bible seriously and to lead the battle to the abolition of the slave trade in the british empire.in so i mentioned this on cnn and this leads to my writing a
biography. somebody at harpercollins contacted me, would you like to write a biography on william wilberforce?ca and i did write that book of course. never thought i would write a biography but i did end up writing to look but inevitably when the book came out there waw a movie that came out, "amazingt grace" and everyone kept asking me after this okay you wrote about wilberforce but who are you going to write about next? some people said about whom will you next right? and those people were correct.e i was a yale english major. i'm big on the word home and if you use the word home i might bv give you a break on the book prices but i'm a big end of the word home. there is nothing funny about that. people kept saying who will you write about, but homely right? if i were to write a seconds biography, if, there is only one person to my mind that is like
william wilberforce, somebody because of his faith stood up fori those who could not stand p for themselves and that ismy dietrich bonhoeffer. obviously that led to my sayingo that i would write the book ando i did write the book. i didn't expect it to be 600 page long book. if somebody had told me it would be so long i would have done it so that is why i guess they didn't tell me.u but it is such an incredible story because it is our story.e it is the story of your.h is the story of what happened,a and in any case that is how iw came to write it and let me tel you a little bit about the lifeo of bonhoeffer. bonhoeffer was born in 1906 into what can only be described as an utterly spectacular family. when you read about his family, when you read in the book but his family was like it is hard not to be jealous even if you come from a wonderful family because his family on every level was a ridiculouslyr impressive. his father, carl bonhoeffer, was the most famous psychiatrist in
germany for the first half of the 20the century. so, we are talking about an intellect on the level of dr. bill for example. dr. joyce brothers perhaps. no, i mean this guy was one of the leading scientists and doctors in europe in the first half of the 20th century, hugely respected take your. actually when the right stock burned down they deputize him to examine to give psychiatric evaluation to the dutch arsonists. so bonhoeffer was the guy, the go two guy. in fact when the conspiracy against hitler was carrying on the top conspirators were thinking we are going to get carl bonhoeffer to determine as a psychiatrist to determine that hitler is insane and that is why we are removing him from power.m he was an incredibly important figure in europe for all those
decades and of course bonhoeffer his born into this great family with his great father carlr. bonhoeffer but everyone in the family was amazing. bonhoeffer's mother was a genius.o his brothers and sisters werei geniuses and a merry geniuses. his brother karl friedricho decides to go into physics and that means you are were going to split theh atom with albert einstein. it was that level. you can just imagine at thet dinner table trying to competen with that nonsense.s so yeah, so he splits the atom at age 23. he actually saw an atom that was the size of a softball. it is a joke, thank you, thank you. in all seriousness this is the guy who had age 23 split the atom so bonhoeffer was thespl youngest of four brothers. there were four brothers and four sisters and there was this level of intellectual competition in the family. they grew up in a section ofit berlin, his father of course was among other things a professor of psychiatry at her lynn
university.sy all of the people in their neighborhood in their socialrs circles were academic superstars they had many jewish friends ash you can imagine, berlin and the early decades of the 20th centurny so it was an extraordinary environment in which to grow up.as bonhoeffer's family int. particular was an extraordinaryr environment because the father with his great scientific mind was training the kids to think clearly, to think logically tos be rigorous in terms of logic.o not to think sloppy, to think along emotional lines but to be disciplined and to think logically and then to express yourself clearly.pli if you don't have something toa say, don't say it. if you can express it clearly, you think twice. it must have been very tough to open your mouth around the dining room table with all of these geniuses.k but i think it stood bonhoeffer in good stead because he being the youngest and being as
brilliant as any of them reallyo learn how to think clearly and. as you will see if you read the book, this made all the .ofference going forward bonhoeffer's -- bonhoeffer's rather walter is killed in the first war and this is a realin tragedy in the family as you cau imagine.i at age 14, dietrich boldly announces he is going to be au theologian.g t in the bonhoeffer family with at the great scientist father, car bonhoeffer being a theologian was not exactly expected.in it was a little shocking and maybe they were a little disappointed. bonhoeffer being a genius was also a great musician. they thought he would go into music are passionately. his other brother went into law and became the head of legal department so there were all these geniuses. what he saida he was going to go into theology it was a little ws disappointing for them. he would wouldn't have said it
lightly. this is not some adolescent fancy on his part that he would repent a few months later andy say no i would rather be a rockstar or indian chief ord asked her not. he thought about it and said ab nothing about it for probably at least a year, for at least a year picked for he dared mentiod it because again you didn't say things lightly in the bonhoeffer family. you would be mocked mercilessly if you were going back and forth and change your mind. what he meant what he said he wanted to be a theologian wast principally he wished to distinguish himself academically.he he wanted to be, he wanted to be a big deal in the world ofe a theology. d his grandfather on the mother sighed and his great-grandfather were in fact very seriouslo theologians, very famous theologians so bonhoeffer makes his decision to do this, and ise going to go to berlin university. we need to establish that berlin university in the 1920s wasp
the premier place to study theology on the surface of theu planet.is this was the place to go.e is like you want to study science and you go to m.i.t.. this was the place so not only does he want to go into theology but he wants to go to berlin university to study theology and sure enough he is a genius ando within months of his arriving there, the living legends on the theological faculty are fightint over bonhoeffer who is 18 years old. they are fighting over him hoping to get him to write a dissertation under them so they can claim, that is my boy, bonhoeffer. bonhoeffer is very intellectually independent obviously being the son of carl bonhoeffer he knows how to think clearly he knows what he wants. he does this thing with himself academically. quickly and very impressed everyone. one would wish to impress in the academic world especially in the theological world. he gets his doctorate at age 21.
one. anybody here at -- get their doctorate at age 21? surely someone in the crowd, don't be shy. me either.h i'm currently working on getting my honorary doctorate i should say. [laughter] but bonhoeffer, he was as impressive as you might have guessed so bonhoeffer gets hishe doctorate or gov now the probles is, does not really a problem but what becomes interesting for bonhoeffer is that age 21 he gets his doctorate but his question and theology the question in his dissertation in the larger question he was trying tod answer as a theologian, christian theologian in germany was, what is the church? that was his question. in the course of answering this question in a very highfalutin impressive academic way he finds that he actually enjoys working in the church, not just theorizing about it and working in an academic sphere but heth also enjoyed working in theing
church. he enjoyed teaching sunday, school and enjoyed preaching, not just teaching but preaching. it captivated him and decides h doesn't want only to have an academic career but probably also to get ordained as ato lutheran minister. thisin presents a difficulty because in germany at the time you could be ordained until age 25. a when you are really you are stuck. now you have got to wait so heci decides to spend a year inn barcelona teaching in a german-speakingr congregation.g i am sorry, being assistant fakir.o the bonhoeffer's love to travel. they were culturally very veryuo curious and they knew every painting, every opera. they were as they said extremely impressive. i neglected to say earlier that they weren't just impressive on paper. we have all met people who are tremendously impressive on pete pete -- paper but you don't want to spend any time with them.opl you know those kind of people?
surely nobody here.i if you are that kind of person raise yourm hand. y outside of this building i'm sure there are plenty of those people. th the bonhoeffer's were tremendously impressive on a per but they weree also delightful people. they taught the children to care about other people. they taught the children to be tolerant of other points of view. it does it mean you can't disagree but be lovingn with those whom you disagree. you should care about other peoples feelings. they talk to their children and when i say they talk to their children they took them extremelyt serious. it was part of the close of thee family and this plays out in th years to come as we will see. so bonhoeffer, at age 22 goes to barcelona for a year.v he loves to travel. his family comes to visit him.4 at age 24 he still can't get ordained.ge he is not old enough so he decides to go to new york city. we are coming to you live from new york city and to spend a year, to spend a year in new york city.
now what is he going to do in new york city? substantively is going to go to union theological seminary but you have to understand bonhoeffer have hardy gotten his doctorate at age 21 from berlin university. soth to him this is like going o a community college practically. this was not something, he was not going there for reasons ofe academics in particular. and he was not disappointed. the fact is that bonhoeffer gets to union and i read about this in the book. is actually quite funny. he writes in his letters home that he really is shocked by what passes for theology at union. in other words he comes very shallow theologically. it is interesting because in berlin university they were very theologically liberal. bonhoeffer was not theologically liberal but respected the liberal theology of his professors in berlin.pr
he respected them as academicsl and was able to learn a lot from them are go but he gets to union and really what passes for theology there are is he feels that they think they are getting the right answers but when i asked them to show me their work, there is no work. they are sort of cheating innocent and he is gracious about his criticisms. but he was just not impressed au this point in terms of what passed for christian theology at union but what did happen there was outside of the boundaries of the union for him or i should say what happened while he wasp in new york that is of significance to his life., what happened was this. he met a fellow student, an african american named frank fischer from alabama who invites him to calm visit abyssiniana baptist church in harlem. bonhoeffer being culturallyl curious and it is fascinating how culturally curious he is.al he wants to know everything and experience different things so d he goes to harlem once one sunday morning and probably
september of 1930 to visitpt abyssinian baptist church in and what he experiences there simpli staggers him.him he had never seen anything likeh this before. he sees first of all a gigantic congregation.f i think it was literally the largest church in america, thousands of people in this church.s he sees people worshiping god in a way that was incredibly vibrant.neve he had never seen anything like this in the dispassionate religious lutheran circles in which he had been traveling in germany and now new york city. mainline protestant white christianity was in some ways depressing to him. he saw people going through the motions but it doesn't seem real to me. now he goes to abyssinian baptist church in season african-american congregation that is alive, that seems actually to be worshiping the living god. the songs were captivating, what he called spiritualism. he was fascinated by the -- to
get copies of these things too take them back to germany which he did but he was fascinated byt the level of faith and obviously this was a congregation of suffering. african-americans in new york city in 1930s are people who are not strangers to suffering. somehow they were not playing church. bonhoeffer was so stunned by this experience that he vows ton go back to abyssinian baptist ev church every single sunday he is in new york city. which he does and he goes back not only to worship but to teacl sunday school and get involved in the lives of even african-americans. he was captivated with his race question which he had not experienced yet in germany. so bonhoeffer gets very involved in the lives of the african-americans there and is so fascinated by it. but one thing that happens to him in the year he is in new i york which i can't mention especially with an audience like this, 1931 at easter time,
bonhoeffer decides he wants to go to one of those big impressive white protestant churches you know one fifth avenue to see how they doo easter. now if you are jewish you might not know this but as a gentile m. going to tell you. easter is when the gentiles go ton church. did you know that? serious christians go to church every sunday but easter is when the gentiles go so it is very crowded, very tough to get him. bonhoeffer experiences, this iss jirga, he literally cannot go because he says it is so crowded enough to get tickets to go to easter service and being ant exchange student from germany he has no the tickets we can't get into one of these big fancy white churches. what the sub to do on the only easter sunday he is in america?s he goes to hear rabbi stephen wise reaching. i believe it was carnegie hall.s he would do this on a sundayci
morning. how interesting, how fascinating that this man who had no inkling whatever that in a few years hil whole life would be inextricably intertwined with judaism, with the jews of europe that on the easter sunday in new york city he goes to hear rabbi stephenn wise. i was amazed by this frankly and i have to say i got an e-mail from the grandson of stephen wise who was also named stephenw wise. what a joy to meet him and towe get to know him.s absolutely fascinating. in any case, bonhoeffer has an experience in a black church and i do have to say just imagine in 1930, eight towheaded, bespectacled berlin academic going to harlem every week. you can tell he is an amazingan guy that he is going up there but he is transformed by his experience and when he comeser back to germany in the summer of 31, everyone notices he is different somehow. what has happened to dietrich
bonhoeffer? he was academically, theologically impressive when ho was younger but somehow he seemedm to take the whole thing thing more seriously now. he is no longer just into it academically. somehow it seemed to have grabbed hisve heart.e this experience with serious christianity is really toucheden him and his friends noticed this that is different.e he no longer speaking about the bible and the text but the living word of god. this was very dramatic to say i berlin university of the theological circles in 1931 andv 32 but bonhoeffer was very boldi and he was such a genius he wast able to get away with it. he would say what he believed was right but he begins to take this idea of a personal relationship with god seriouslys he tells his students that woul. go on these retreats, he would tell them to go off and spend time alone and meditate on a scripture from psalms or whatever came up that day, to meditate on it and see what god
would say personally. this was a very dramatic departure from what you'd find in berlin theological circles at this time butd bonhoeffer as i say has been changed by hisnce experience in the african-american church. bonhoeffer also now, because he seems to be taking god more seriously, he is now beginning to see what is happening politically in germany and hen knows, and i go into this in detail in the book, but he somehow seems to know before anyone else knows what ther nazi's mean to germany.o he seems to be able to smellm that this is directly, directly opposed to germany as a nation but more importantly to the church in germany. that if you take god seriously and you are not just a gentileur who goes to church but if youake actually take it seriously you are going to have problems.t but most people work him as we know, extremely badly fooled. bonhoeffer was not so he begins.
to speak out from the lectern. t imagine that berlin diversity teaching theology begins to say things was christian not in slya if you are a christian in germany you have only one a savs that is jesus christ. what he says this it isi obviously what he is reallyat saying, that hitler is not ther. savior. so many germans who i think were biblically and current didn't have a sense that this wast something almost satanic that hitlerdn is usurping thisni messianic role. bonhoeffer saw what was happening and understood it to be very dangerous many years before it seems anybody does. it is fascinating.ng. i think part of it has to do with scientific training by his father to think very quicklyb enough to be swept up in emotion but to see what someone is saying it hold it up against the truth and be able to solve for x so to speak. bonhoeffer began speaking out publicly.
when hitler becomes ab chancellr in 1933, january 313 days laterc or two days later, can't in remember it is in the book, bonhoeffer goes on the radio and gives a speech in which he dissects the idea of the fuhrer führer principle. i devote a chapter in the book to this idea of the führer principle. if you are a principle it is an extremely popular -- fira means leader and hitler wrote this bad idea all the way into the chancelleryde and wrote it off i cliff 12 years later carrying europe with him. bonhoeffer three days after hitler becomes chancellor gets on the radio and gives a speech in which he dissects the idea of the führer principle. it make swallowing its own tail as it were.a he said that true leadershipd must come from god.f in other words if you are deputized you have the authority to lead because you are yourself submitted to a higher authority.
otherwise you have no authority. bonhoeffer talks about this and again this was a stick in theis eye of the the knot sees two or three days after hitler becomes chancellor to dissect the very idea upon which they had written into power. he dissects this idea and isr very bold about it.e from this point on he is rather bold not foolishly so, not in a incendiary way but rather bold in his criticisms of the nazi's. it becomes much more pointed very quickly because as you knoh if you know the history and again i go into this in the book because i myself was not familiar with this and fascinated to learn about it but how quickly the nazis.a for every piece of society. what we in america don't really know is how dramatic thep separation of church and state is. germany had no history of the separation of church and statehe so people came to the head of state and you feel is perfectlyt within the boundaries of what he can do to take over the church because the church and state were wedded together.h
hitler does this happily and began to intervene in every part of society, including the church. thel state paid the pastor salaries because it was anh. official state church and they began to now take over and toi try to infiltrate the theology of the christian church. they began to not supply the doctrine of the christian church. very few people like bonhoeffer understood immediately what was happening so bonhoeffer is veryb quickly a vocal leading criticf of what is happening to the chairmani church. it becomes most pointed a fews n months into 1933 win when the not seize start making their laws and saying if you have jewish blood you cannot serve in the government post. wealth is now extends to the church because if you are adsr pastor who has jewish blood, your father is jewish or your grandfather is jewish or your whole family is ethnically jewish but you created -- do noe
stand together. if the church has any meaning, that's what it is. it's not a place to look at things racially. so bonhoeffer at this point is taking the lead in all -- [cell phone ringing] >> if that's my wife, i'm not bonhoeffer now gets involved ine the struggle for the church because the church was verylled confused.gl they were badly fooled by the nazis into thinking and anybody who tells you that hitler was ar christian. he was not a christian..
he was a gentile. there's a difference. hitler was politically so brilliant that he would nevere say that he is against the church because he didn't have the power saddam hussein had a few years ago. he had to play the politicalmor game to get more power so he understood he had to play thea political game and talk a good game when he came to the churcha and you always pretend to be one the side of the church and on the side of moralitya. degenerate bolshevism speaking along those lines so people would say i agree with everything he said that he is basically on the right path. nobody of course thought her would be there for 12 years.e everybody that we will use him for a while. he is going to be a one term furor.r have you ever heard that term? no one took him seriously butwh bonhoeffer understood what he was trying to do wasda fundamentally antithetical tohet the chairman church and is ah pastor i have to speak outv against it so bonhoeffer becomes one of the leading people speaking out against it and wass very involved in what became known as the barman declarationn
a document that a few pastors wrote.q actually quite a few pastors wrote road in which they finallc said we are stepping away from the german state church. c the german state church has become heretical, has become apostate. it is no longer the lutheran evangelical church and we are pushing away.y. so they wrote this document, very brave, and a big deal now.u you have many german pastors identifying with this document and standing away from the nazi reich church so bonhoeffer is one of the leaders in this. it was a brave moment for the chairman church but i thinka bonhoeffer felt that really even this was not enough. i think even the people on the goodh. side coming up in the people who are members of the confessing church and there were thousands of these pastors who stood up wrinkly and i write about that in the book because o think we need to remember them
but he realized they are not taking hitler quite seriously enough. understand that if we don't fight hard, if we don't in at sense take this extremely seriouslys immediately and notr seize are becoming more and more powerful. bonhoeffer gets frustrated because people keep calling for more dialogue and they never seem to think the nazi's wereth going to do what they were goinh to do and what we in hindsight now that they did. bonhoeffer in his frustration i think seize again even as friends don't seem to get it.do' he goes to london to pastor a chairman speaking congregation in london but even so he is still extremely involved. he is on the phone all the time. use one of those people if youe are alive today would have three blackberries and he was absolutely connected constantly to what is going on in berlin talking to his mother and others who are very involved in getting the latest on how the church iss being taken over by the notn seize. it is extraordinary.
so bonhoeffer comes back to germany in 1935.i the confessing church, the good guys, deputized bonhoeffer to lead a seminary to train young pastors. imagine you have got been ossified state church. their seminaries are not worth going to so if you are a good guy and you take your faith seriously don't want to go to one of the seminaries. they debbie lies -- deputized subfive on the baltic coast. this i see in some ways is the golden era of bonhoeffer. he is able to put into practice what he believes is true christianity to teach these young men who wish to be pastors what does it really mean to be a questionwh -- christian? it mean to stand up against evil among other things. you have tom be willing to be courageous to lay down yours lie if god calls you to do this. you have to know how to pray. you have to have a relationship with god.
this not just a fuss jy academie elegy. you have to live it and obey itd of gotts is something in the scripture you have to determine it. ha it is god saying it to me and if you say you believe it but you don't do it and you don't really believe it -- bonhoeffer was very very strict in a sense.yo he said you cannot call yourself a christian unless you are willing to live it.l so he is teaching this to the seminarians but of course we know that not seize became more and more powerful and eventually they shut down -- but bonhoeffer take that seminary training underground and becomes a floating game. k the gestapo doesn't know where he is doing the training. it is here and there. bonhoeffer was very deceptive and a good way if you cangoo understand what i mean. heu knew that the gestapo is not to lie. when the bible says thou shalt not lie that is not god's way of saying to every christian at the gestapo comes u.n. says are you
hiding a jew in the basement yom say oh yes.o the great christian says no. what are you talking about?ou we have no basement here. you are supposed to be obeyingn god and a more fundamental way, so bonhoeffer understood that to deceive the evil gestapo is not to disobey god somehow but to serve god. is played in his two -- theology but bonhoeffer takes a seminary training underground but even the gestapo catches up with hims eventually. bonhoeffer's possibilities too serve god become more and more difficult because the nazi's ar becoming more and more powerful. they forbid him at some point from speaking publicly because they know where he is coming from and finally they forbid him from publishing. bonhoeffer had the temerity or i can say here the chutzpah to publish a book called the prayer book of the bible which is all
about the psalms. you have to try to understande the absurd climate. is almost comical butc the nazi state church was trying to create some kind of pseudo-christianity that was utterly devoid of judaism. let me just say good luck with that project.r impossible, insane.san but they actually were trying to do it. this is what bonhoeffer was up against the idea of these crazy nazis are trying to createte something they want to callnt christianity. they want to create this religion in which they are wiping out any vestige of judaism.e you are going to have problemst with that. jesus was jewish. he was a rabbi. his mother, jewish.on every one of the apostles jewish. how can you possibly do this but the nazi's were trying to create something which was really a neopagan thing. it was really a not the religion that they knew if they continue to call it christianity theyc could fool people who aren theologically ignorant, all of
the german gentiles to go toil church but don't know anything about the faith. bonhoeffer had the temerity to write a book on the psalms at a time when the nazi reich church is saying anything in the old testament we don't want to deala with anymore and to me as a christian it is almost comical they were going as far but bonhoeffer does it so he is now forbidden from publishing.om the question is what is bonhoeffer going to do? has options are being winnowed down to next to nothing. bonhoeffer in 1938 sees war is coming and he was not a pacifist contrary to what you sometimes read about bonhoeffer but he would never pick up a rifle to fight in hitler's war because he understood this was a war of russian and not a just war. bonhoeffer would never do that but what was he going to do?e he decides to cut to the chase and go back to new york.a he comes back to new york in 1939 with the idea that he is going to teach at union nor dom something to get away from the
madness happening in germany soh that he will be preserved to teach another day and to lead another day.e he gets on the ship in june of 1939.t he comes to new york but alreada he is praying constantly asking god to leave him because he was one of these people that waso honest enough to say there is no right answer. god has to guide me because inow don't know what to do. this is becoming madness.o what do i do?y he is praying very earnestly anr i devote a whole chapter in the is -- this period isat never been covered before but what he is thinking every day as journals. he is saying to god you have to show me what to do and he is reading the scripture verses every day and is god speaking t. me?f it is fascinating how he went through this thought process bu no sooner does he really get off the boat in new york harbor that he or he knows has made a a mistake. he cannot leave germany. he cannot abandon his people in
germany during their time of severing. he spends time talking to people in new york saying i can only stay here five months or a month and before you know if he is decided i have to go back. he spends 26 days in new york city.y. it is almost funny, he's like a ghost.e it is so clear that his heart and soul were in germany and he d go back.y god an he didn't know what he was going back to putting in place going back to danger.e he did know the specifics of what he was going back to but he felt that god calls me to go i will go. that is what i do. i obey god. so he goes back and when her arrives in berlin everyone isll shocked. they pulled strings to get him out of there. what in the world are you doing here now? he says simply i made a mistake. i made a mistake.re what he does specifically and this is where it gets very fascinating and i will close but bonhoeffer gets involved in a conspiracy to assassinate adolfi hitler.a
the way he finds himself in the conspiracy is first of all his family were leading anti-nazis from the beginning.be as soon as hitler was in power and before hitler was in power the whole bonhoeffer emily knew he was evil and they were not ol board with the not sees. bonhoeffer's brother-in-law was a member of german military intelligence. and i have to say german military intelligence was attime this time the center of the conspiracy against adolf hitler so bonhoeffer's brother nasser leader in military intelligence but in fact one of the elite conspirators.c bonhoeffer had been involved inl many conversations in a conspiracy in the years leadingl up to 1939. he was friends with these people. is basically as a theologian and has a pastor giving them moral support in the conspiracy can filter. this is not ano easy thing for german. but bonhoeffer knew that this is what god was saying he was bolstering in in their courages
to stand against the nazis and the conspiracy but now he comes back in 1939 and he decides to officially become a member of the conspiracy. this is fascinating. he decides to go from confessiom to -- confession to conspiracy. in other words the nazi has no problem with you if you say i'm a christian and this is what i believe. that is very nice.o thank you very much. you are no threat to me. but if you actually act on thos, beliefs now you are a threat and bonhoeffer says now has come the time for me to boldly act on.t i say the god of the bible is real and i say jesus is god. now am i going to obey him when my life is at stake or am i going to do the convenient thing? i can tell you bonhoeffer was very courageous and he decides to move forward. so he gets involved officially with the conspiracy by being hired. war comes to germany in 1939 and
bonhoeffer has to do something for the third reich otherwise he will get sent to a concentratioh camp or killed so he says yest i'm going to work for the germaa military intelligence under my brother-in-law and he is ostensibly going to -- but we know what he is doing working for the brother-in-law is now officially a member of the conspiracy.ag i go into this again in detail in the book but it was a vastt conspiracy and bonhoeffer's role was to travel around europe to make contact with members of the allied governments most importantly withor the governmet anthonyt, eden and to try to len them know that there are germans inside germany who are involved in this plot to kill hitler. so this is what bonhoeffer'ser's rain -- main role is. he continues to write during this time and is travelingh
around. 1943 he becomes engage.e in the book for the first time i tell the story of this love th affair that he has been for him it was late in life. he never thought he would get. married because the times are so difficult. he thought i'm just going to serve god and is not going to b. part of my life that i get to be married. he meets this woman, they fall in love and it is a beautiful story. i tell that story through theght letters that were published inbi 1992. the previous biography was published in 1967, an extraordinary book but he didn't feel the freedom to write about this loved affair and these letters had not been published so i have the joy of being the first one to tell the story and a number of other things in the book that hadn't come out until more recently. this is to me a beautiful storyl he gets engage but no sooner does he get engaged than in april 1943, the gestapo finally catches up withe him and they pt m in military person.
why? not because of his involvement in the conspiracy to kill adolfn hitler but the gestapo knew there was something wrong so they have been tapping their phones.al bonhoeffer was specifically involved inw something which is operation seven, plot to get seven german jews out of germay into neutral switzerland.rl bonhoeffer got very involved in this. is very. difficult actually. they spent a lot of time trying to do this and eventually the gestapo catches him and arrest him. but bonhoeffer thought he wouldt effectively beat the rap, but h was able to fool the prosecutor. his case to come to trial and he will get up.h he believed if that doesn't have that the conspirators who are moving along trying to kill hitler will kill hitler and i will get out or the elias will win but he really felt hopeful that he would be in prison for a while but he is not going to go to his death. but he doesn't get out into
1944, july 20, you know the storyn of clouds don stauffenbeg blows up the briefcase bomb in prussia in hitler's military headquarters. people are killed. hitler is not among them. hitler survives and from this point on for the first time, july 20, 1944 the conspiracy against adolf hitler is exposed for the first time. has been bubbling along for years and years and they haved made a number of attempts ona bonhoeffer's life. but this one is the last one. suddenly hitler realizes there are all of these people in this conspiracy so thousands are arrestedou, tortured. names, bandar tortured and one of the names that comes up is dietrich bonhoeffer. is now transferred to the dreaded gestapo prison in berlin and from here on and it is safe
to say his days arey numbered.f we don't know if the war is going to to in the time it ifi the nazis are going to use him as a bargaining chip with thet allies but we know things ared winding down and he probably won't survive. and in fact he doesn't. on hitler's express orders on9 april 9, 1945, three weeks before the end of there war subo was hanged in the concentration camp at dawn.d it is an extraordinary thing, pure revenge on hitler's part that he didn't want any of this especially these pastors. hitler's -- hitler despised christian pastors and i write all about the nazi theology and how they despised the serious christians in the book because it isd fascinating. it was news to me. we need to know the facts on this issue but he had bonhoeffes killed.d bonhoeffer's.he was thrown onto a pile of corpses because the crematorium was broken and he
was burned in this fashion, disposed of that i think bonhoeffer would have considered it the highest honor to die with the other victims of the thirder reich and to be disposed of in the same way, to buy it in a fight with them. i think he would have thought oe it is the highest honor. subjugate the sermon on death, which i will close with this. he talks about death in his sermon and he says apart from god, death is a horrible thing.a but anybody who has actually come to know god personally andh of course he is preaching to christian saying this is the whole point of your faith, not just to show up in church and be a nice person but to know god is real and he loves you and wants you to have a relationship with him. subto his preachiness in 193312h years before his death in saying if anyone has ever come to know god on that moment they are homesick to be with him.ence if you have actually experienced this reality that is what it is to have faith.
so bonhoeffer polices and preaches this with vigor in 1933. believe me in 1945 he believed it all the more strongly and anybody who has ane idea that he went to his death wringing its hands wishing he could squirm out of it somehow i don't think the facts lead us there. i think he understands he was u serving god and there is noho greater way to live or to die than to know you are serving god and doing the right thing. bonhoeffer's father wrote a letter to some colleagues at ths end of the summer of 1945 and he says we have lost two sons and two sons in law so he says we are sad but proud. my children lived in the way that i taught them to live.duri during these evil times they did the right thing and they want out of this world with their heads up, with peace and joy of god.d. i think that is bonhoeffer's altima and message to us. we all need to hear it because life is hard. bonhoeffer lifted and that's why he has migrated inspiration andl
i hope it will be asp -- yours a as well. let's stop there and i think we have a few minutes for q&a i think.a,t [applause] thank you. and wait for the microphone if you have a question.we >> if you have a question -- mike and i love multiple choice questions were true and false even better. [inaudible] >> was fascinating toc me becaue i wanted went into this not knowing much about his historyi and i learned so much.gs one of the things i learned is it seems to me most of the people involved in the conspiracy against hitler were serious christians and many of them were catholic. bonhoeffer once he got involved in the conspiracy to kill hitlea he was working with catholics. i've read about them a little book. the there is simply no question they stood together against the
nazi's but the conspiracy as i c say was a rather wide conspiracy.re they were number of pieces to it but as far as i can tell most o them are very serious. in fact when they went upp against the people's court, sort of pfeiffer is this evil man whi was the show trial, number them who had been tortured and then you they were going to go to their death as soon as theyknow pronounce this judgment, they said -- i quote in this -- quote in this book but they did thisth as it was the right thing to do before god and to stick a stake in the eye of the nazi they said we did this for the jews. for them to say this in the people's court in thiss incredible surrounding, but i think they hadng seen this is te end of my life and i'm going to speak the truth. so, in any case. >> the germans came in two days
later. i was in auschwitz seven months. i was liberated by --. a lot of shermans were in the concentrationti camps.k you >> people don't know that and thank you for saying bad and it is an honor to speak here with you in the audience. i am fascinated to learn this myself, to learn how much more complex the whole situation waso and again speaking as somebodyh who -- my family suffered. this is a small thing compared to what so many other separate but to understand how many germans suffered and they could not speak up and of course they were sent to the concentration camps if they did speak up.r
i had no idea of the depth of this but thank you for sharing your personale experience.. >> you talk about bonhoeffer's devotional life. could you talk about that for a minute as far as his daily readings? you mentionyon how -- the specic songs he had for the day. what did that look like? >> i assume everyone listening will read the book. actually i don't care if yout read the book, and if you just buy the book.o i don't care if he read it. the fact is, bonhoeffer that i discovered in my research was somewhat different than the bonhoeffer i had heard about him but it means is that he was an extremely devout christian.v he wasn't just sort of a question or a bus and just brave and a general way but he drew, its strength from god and he studied the scriptures every
morning. he was very self disciplined. he would read the strictures anl pray through the scriptures.rea he didn't read the scriptures just as a rule book, this how to behave that as this is god speaking to me personally. he did this every morning even during the time he was in prison. he did this every single morning to get grounded and i think it gave him the courage that he had her go people don't realize how serious he was about prayer and about reading the scripture. he was extremely serious about it and i think anybody who has this kind of cavalier attitude,t i want to be brave, bonhoeffer is presented as a kind of the german christian che guevara. he is this cool guy but i mean he was sexually pure. he was somebody that took god very seriously and that is where his courage came from.ta it it is important understand that and i think it is an inspiration to me and to anybody to realize that this guy every
morning would read the scriptures. every morning hei would pray ang when he led the seminary they have all kinds of times a prayer together. he didn't take that lightly. whatever the opposite of lately is, it is profound. the question in the back. we have to wait for the microphone but for c-span purposes, the whole world is going to hear what you have to say now. >> i was wondering if you were able to interview anybody from that period or any of theinte descendents of either the bonhoeffer family or friends? >> yes. the answer is yes. next question. i guess you want specifics. i would be delighted to tell you and actually i'm glad you asked that. my wife and i had have the high privilege of visitingf with bonhoeffer's niece at her home in germany. we were with her one afternoon in the spring of 2008. she is a figure in the book. i write about her in the i book. she is the niece of bonhoeffer.
she lived through this. she is one of the characters in all of this. bonhoeffer at one point tries to escape from prison. he could have escaped if you wanted to. i talk about that in the book as well but she was involved in all of this and she married a bonhoeffer's best friend who was the father.o we had a wonderful afternoon with her and also in a german nursing home in hamburg weo visited with the elder sister of bonhoeffer's sister. her elder sister is alive and we visited and spent spend the afternoon with her. thisv woman, a lease von bismark heard bonhoeffer preach in 1935a it was so amazing to me to be breathing the same air with this woman for a few hours and to rake bread with someone who broke bread withu soap life.
it was a great privilege.a i have martin double my two thank for that. he was the man that directed the great documentary onr bonhoeffe. he gave me their contacta information and made it possible for me to meet these delightfuli octogenarian women in germanyg two years ago so thank you for asking that. >> so, did bonhoeffer see any question or issue and the fact that germany as a christian nation was both lutheran and catholic? >> well, that is too complicated for me to answer. bonhoeffer thought about this stuff a lot. i write, what little i know about that i write in the book but it is somewhat complicated and i won't try to answer that since i'm not a theologian or a student of the church.
perhaps this is a tour or false question lurking there someplace.er there is a question here and then in the back.b >> did he have any actual interaction with the jews on their way to the concentration camps, with jews as they were being rounded up and as they were being persecuted in the streets?ut >> i am not sure. i didn't see any evidence of that in the way that you are s putting it but bonhoeffer, this is an important thing to say. because his family was such a deal, they had connections in high places and they knew what was going on, where your average german never would haveg had access to this information. f coors was a leading figure in the ministry of justice and madrona turbine military
intelligence. so the whole bonhoeffer family news to him in many other other friends of theirs, but they knew what was going on. both pushed bonhoeffer for the carucci had. he knew before almost before anybody else what was coming and what was happening. and he would hear things your average german wouldn't care. why? the leadership never wanted them to hear it because if they euratom know what's going on. so we know some germans knew something, things didn't know anything. basically the bonhoeffer family did more than anybody. and they were very involved in this. i didn't say this, but bonhoeffer's twin sister tribune, to me was closer to anybody in the world for most of his last commission made a jewish man and they had to flee germany to england in 1937. this is very personal for bonhoeffer. his brother-in-law, best friend come in many people in his life were jewish.
and so, his experience in this on a personal level and i think that added battleship force him to think more clearly about what god is telling me to do. he couldn't just dismiss it cavalierly. he had to think, what is god calling me to do? make many people were forced to think through the way he would've come at a flippant to god that thou shalt not kill so i shouldn't go. bonhoeffer said no, i'd shalt not murder. it doesn't mean that in some circumstances to protect the innocent you don't use a weapon. i mean, it becomes very difficult. what i love about bonhoeffer is the force does not easy answers, but to really think through what is god really saying here? not to say and what do i want god to save. bonhoeffer had to answer this question. he said he can't allow these numbers to get their hamster to when i am a pious pastor market
involved. theoretically that's hypocrisy. i have to really wrestle with this. i think the fact you a personal connection forced him to wrestle with it. but we are the benefactors of this rigorous thinking and i think my greatest hope would be people would read my book and it will lead them to read bonhoeffer because he really shows us with real faith is in a way oftentimes we don't see it. we often see what bonhoeffer describes as cheap rates. but it has no meaning. it becomes meaningless. he forces us to think it through. and they think he is to me a great example of what does it mean to let such your faith in eagle circumstances quite to me he was the model for a two force us to think about what is the real thing? what is the real thing with a? there was a question. the one in lavender.
or lilac, excuse me. i apologize. i want happen again. >> this is not a question but a comment. you are talking about hitler's hatred of the clergy. i have an uncle who was politically active in germany but the rest of 1933. in a concentration camp. to remember pastors in the concentration camp. and he said at the time that -- [inaudible] >> say it again. >> were treated worse than the jews. >> you never hear this. thank you for sameness. i have to say this is a lesson to me to read about this. often we get a very cartoonish version of history and it's not a cartoon. it's very -- there's a lot of great, and a lot of complication and it's very easy for us in 2020 hindsight to say this is what happened, but to live through that.
obviously with much more complicated. and i have heard that. no bonhoeffer, many of the men and seminary -- if you remember the confessing church viewer march by the sidelines. if you're in the war, they would pitch in the front lines literally because they need a kilt. sort of like, what was the same? david and sheba's husband, you know, put them on the front lines. they were literally marked for death, but very interesting and educational. yes, sir. we need a microphone. >> first of all, excellent lecture. it really was just wonderful. [applause] faq to do my biography now. you know, i'm a student of the holocaust in the ghetto, the uprising. it's still so hard.
the resistance, the bravery. can you say these people, their top by their mother, their father and the things that were done it so hard to get through this to read about stroup and the liquidation of the ghetto. it's just heartbreaking to me. for the marches, afterwards in the war is almost over. it seems the world of the historians was probably in my opinion the worst of genghis khan, was the most evil. and sometimes i wonder if it was a hard time for having us. we have forgotten this. it's gotten in the way a little bit for religion. but again, take the baby, but then i have to take it and smashed the brain and everything. very, very hard to get through all this stuff. >> this is to me what is so
fascinating. anybody who doesn't believe in god or doesn't believe in good or evil, who's to say what he though quite faulty with people. smashing the baby's brains against the lawless evil. if you can't say that evil. to be intellectually honest can't say it's evil because the category of evil doesn't exist. as a christian, my theology, the biblical theology is really broken world. this world is not the way it's supposed to be. there is evil in this world, right? and god is working against the evil. he does not condone the evil obviously. it's a big mystery. but the point is the world is broken and all you need to do is look at the holocaust. and if you don't understand that human beings are capable of these kinds of things, study this. and you'll see anybody with a cavalier attitude towards it, you know, most things happen for a reason. people see these incredibly sloppy things.
all things work out in again. yet tell that to the jews and i'll switch twisting his family murdered. you have to have a more complex way of life. if your not forced to look at these things come even sloppily say about the visit to good we just got here by accident. i would say is a person of faith, i don't know how you can justify that. if we just all arrived by accident and there's no god and no meaning, you cannot condemn the mounties for this. it has no meaning. you cannot call it evil because there's no such thing as evil. these are important questions and i think we don't deal with them very well in our current culture. we don't have these conversations on tv. you have to deal with this. if life has no meaning in real life i accident, if we direct the process coming into the world, our lives are meaningless and we can't condemn anything. it's all just part of evolution and the sloppy sense, but things
have been. i will see how a human being can be content with that worldview. to me, not the focus like a laser, that this is what human beings do. tommy what do you make of this? that's the question. to see a person might bonhoeffer, was a shining light of goodness in the midst of this evil, it gives you hope, gives me hope it helps me make sense of it. otherwise i would want to kill myself. it's just so
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