Wednesday, 26 September 2012

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER for ABC?


Grace and Mortage (shown below) was written by Peter Selby (former Bishop of Worcester) in 1997.  Is it still, or maybe more, relevant to us in 2012?

Chapter 2 is largely about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian who spoke out against the Nazis and was eventually imprisoned and later put to death in 1944. He left a tantalising selection of poems, sermons, letters, fragments which suggest that he was feeling his way towards an approach to Christianity which would mean something to a world which had "come of age" and was largely "religionless".

Towards the end of ch 2 Peter Selby writes this paragraph:
"... The new day brings new perplexities in the form of issues about democracy, about the economy, about the vision of humanity, in short, that informs our common life. Among those who face the new day will be those who have a question and a perplexity about the identity of Christianity, and indeed of Christ himself, in our time. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer we have someone who was both close enough to his own culture to feel its perplexity in the face of its coming of age, and yet sure enough of the claim of the Christ among the excluded of his time to be a disciple. Sometimes tensions paralyse us, and in particular cause us not to see the possibilities of a new day. Sometimes, however, we need the determination to hear two voices clearly, the voice of the culture that has given us our questions and the voice of those who have no part in that culture. That, I am suggesting, is probably the only way we shall be able to speak of Christ authentically in our time."
The book goes on to discuss the subject of credit and debt - which of course rose hugely after the Big Bang (financial deregulation) in the Thatcher/Lawson era and the period leading up to this book, and has loomed even larger in recent years. For those of us who meet people in variously worrying degrees of debt through working at the CAB, it couldn't be more relevant. Selby then addresses the equally big topic of international indebtedness which constrains the lives of nations as well as individuals.

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