Writing fiction, letters to his family, fiancée, and friends and contending with his interrogator occupied Dietrich Bonhoeffer during his first year in Tegel Prison. Of the incomplete drama, the novel fragment, and the short story, Bonhoeffer admitted to his friend and later biographer, Eberhard Bethge, “There is a good deal of autobiography mixed with it.” This book discloses a great deal of Bonhoeffer’s family context, social world, and cultural milieu. Events from his life are recounted in a way that embodies and illuminates his theology. Characters and situations that represent Nazi types and attitudes are a form of social criticism and help to explain Bonhoeffer’s participation in the resistance movement and the plot to kill Adolf Hitler, for which he was hanged.
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) a German theologian, pastor, and ecumenist, was a professor in Berlin, an uncompromising teacher in the Confessing Church, and a consistent opponent of National Socialism. Executed by Hitler at the end of World War II, his influence continues today as one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century.
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that struggle focused on power. Faith involves a liberation of the self from itself, from the demand of the ego to be the center of the world (occupying the place of God), and from its desire to dominate others. Bonhoeffer’s paradigmatic phrase for Christ and the Christian life was ‘existing for others.’ The self that is freed from itself in being freed for God is simultaneously freed for the neighbor.” (Pages 9–10)
“The freedom of God … finds its strongest evidence precisely in that God freely chose to be bound to historical human beings and to be placed at the disposal of human beings. God is free not from human beings, but for them.” (Page 11)
“Trust is not based on knowing everything about the other person, but on one believing in the other.” (Page 48)
“Smashing in another person’s skull, literally or figuratively, just because they are different, has very little to do with character. Indeed, it takes much more character to understand one another and to get along without losing oneself in the process.” (Page 160)
“character is only formed in the process of living with one another.” (Page 159)