13 February 2014
The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Reading this book has caused me to muse about life and how blessed we are to live in such a time. We are not immune to the atrocities of WWII happening again, and so I feel this story should be heard (and read if everyone could read this 600+ page book!). After reading Bonhoeffer, one comes out changed. Sure, we all know what happened in WWII, but to experience it through a German Christian who stood up to the Nazis and took part in the conspiracy to kill Hitler, and to read about what he sacrificed and what he went through is quite another thing. It is not just history in a text book. It's a story of daring, dangerous living for God. And it's all real.
The choices Bonhoeffer made were sacrificial and he moved forward in confidence that God was with him. The bravery he displayed was astounding. Just imagine a time when Nazis, who showed no mercy and followed one of the most evil men in history, could find you and kill you for whatever reason. The laws and rules were changing all the time. Bonhoeffer had a target on his back because he was a pastor who preached openly against what was going on in Germany. Many times his radio broadcasts were cut off, or his sermons were stopped in the middle, by Nazis trying to stifle his voice.
It is frightening to read about how many people went along with Hitler or shrugged off his actions, not seeing the evil he was playing with. How he manipulated the government and the laws over several years to basically take all of it over, making everything he did 'legal.' How blind can we be? Are we like this today?
But even working against evil, Bonhoeffer always showed kindness to others, and was generous again and again. He loved to play piano and sing. He loved his family dearly. He won over his prison guards with his gentleness and kindness. How can we be more like that? How can we recognize evil, stand up to it, but show mercy and grace to others?
Reading about his example is eye-opening. I don't see how anyone can read this story and not think differently about the value of life, the reality of the atrocity of evil, and the love of God that can truly shine light in the darkest of places.