Work has been slow on the publishing side, I’m waiting for my other editors to hand our book my way for layout and etc. In the meantime I’ve got three audio books in the kilter from the library. I’m trying to teach myself German with audio lessons. I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s autobiography Chronicles Vol. 1 read by Sean Penn. Ready for later is the audio book of CS Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet.
I’m plowing through Eberhard Bethge’s monstrous bio Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition, paperback, 2000.). I’ll try to blog my thoughts on it. So far I’m only up to the teen years.
On my first attempt I got stuck in this section. It’s really hard to picture life in an area of Poland and Germany that are gone forever now. I was trying to look up the places mentioned (birthplace, lineage, early moves) on Google Earth. They’re all gone! Its hard to find a frame of reference for my late twentieth century brain for these early twentieth century places. The fact that Dietrich grew up in a home-church type family is a point of departure. How many home-schooled Christian US kids have read this and identified? I’m not sure it applies. Dietrich’s mother brought them up on the Bible stories and hymns of her learning–Moravian Brethren. He used these stories himself when he taught Bible. But it’s clear that his family was bourgeious and very passive in their interest in the Church. They didn’t attend and didn’t really hang out with anyone who did! So Bonhoeffer’s interest in becoming a theologian was rather mysterious even to him and he seems to have wanted to keep it that way! Bethge writes:
“When we turn to the motives and origins of Bonhoeffer’s choice of career, it is hard to find any answer that is not somewhat speculative. Nowhere did Bonhoeffer offer an autobiographical account of his decision. But perhaps this omission itself points to something central: his belif that the roots of one’s innermost vocation should remain a secret. Bonhoeffer sensed that the curiosity to make oneself sure of something was self-destructive. So we must accept a certain amount of uncertainty when we search for the decisive factors here.” (p. 34)
Learning to speak German is a little dream of mine accompanied by a wish to visit Germany and Switzerland and see firsthand where Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth lived and worked. My wife and I are like fourth generation Germans (as well as other things). My grandmother on my dad’s side speaks fluent German. When I get good enough I should be able to speak with other members here at JPUSA. A good friend just down the hall from me is German. We’ll see how far I get with my short attention span. I tried Greek a while back as well.