In a few weeks, I’ll sit around a table of delicious German food with some of my closest friends to discuss a true story of transformation, tragedy, and terror. We’re going to discuss a book about a life – the life of a man who would not tolerate a theology that would wipe out a race of people. Reading the book, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, a few years ago was terrifying. I had walked inside the gates at Auschwitz in Poland and seen the incinerators; I had stood in the tower and looked across the field of long buildings built for suffering and death.
The account of this brilliant German man with the right pedigree and the right education and the right friends is ugly in its revealing of everything wrong about the world… about the human condition… about everything culture slowly and slyly considers “right” without question.
But book clubs with biographies are meant to focus on the past, to stir up nostalgia or pride or gratitude that terrible times had such wonderful people to overcome them. So why is The New York Times making me nervous today? Why do I think Bonhoeffer’s words would ring as poignant today, in our much progressed culture of tolerance?
Why does today seem so terrible?
I have to read the news in waves – a little bit here, a bit there… some in the morning and some over lunch. Because it feels ominous. A sliver of a column on the front page was dedicated to the continuing conflict in Syria while a lion and her cubs enjoyed a photo and feature further down on the page. Zoos are having trouble deciding what to do when babies “don’t fit the plan.” I guess those babies were part of, “All the news that’s fit to print” in a more prominent sense than the failure of any diplomatic, peaceful measures by Annan in the battered and bruised country of Syria.
This probably reads like a jumbled jigsaw puzzle and that’s because it is. I know I’ve got a hope secure and I know I’ve got to share this message, but is this world making anyone else nervous? When I sit around that table in a few weeks, enjoying good German food with kindred spirits, I have a feeling they’ll know exactly what I mean.