Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bonhoeffer's this-worldliness

We ended the year in my World Lit. II class with writings by D. Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was involved in the plot against Hitler's life and was killed just before the defeat of Hitler's Third Reich.
In his Letters and Papers from Prison, he writes:

During the last year or so I've come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man...I don't mean the shallow and banal this-worldliness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable...but the profound this-worldliness, characterized by...the constant knowledge of death and resurrection....
...I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman..., a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world... (p. 369)

Similar to Buber's "I and Thou," Taylor's paying attention, and Metz's open eyed mysticism, "living unreservedly" is beautiful. There is something disarming about it--especially in the context of taking seriously the sufferings of others.

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