Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Coming back for a while--

We know that God and the devil are locked together in combat over the world and that the devil has a word to say even at death. In the face of death we cannot say in a fatalistic way, "It is God's will"; we must add the opposite: "It is not God's will." Death shows that the world is not what it should be, but that it needs redemption. Christ alone overcomes death. Here, "It is God's will" and "It is not God's will" come to the most acute paradox and balance each other out. God agrees to be involved in something that is not the divine will, and from now on death must serve God despite itself. From now on, "It is God's will" also embraces "It is not God's will." God's will is the overcoming of death through the death of Jesus Christ. Only in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ has death come under God's power, must it serve the purpose of God. Not a fatalistic surrender, but living faith in Jesus Christ, who died and has risen again for us, can seriously make an end of death for us. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I read Bonhoeffer and other great religious thinkers who, as Jim Wallis has said were "brilliant intellectuals, yet they felt called by the crisis of their historical moment to act, not just to think," I realize that there is a certain duality of thinking that one must have if they choose the life of the mind. If we remain in the realm of the abstract -- the purely philosophical and theological, we may have no effect. We may be inconsequential. But Bonhoeffer was not a victim to this -- he "felt called to act."

I feel the importance of this desire to act more than ever before.

Having decided to make my life for the next 2-5 years one that might exist in the realm of the abstract (I will be in graduate school studying English in a few months) more so than the realm of reality -- I will be challenged and tempted to seek the safety of academia more than the unsafe alternative of living in the "real world."

So, with Bonhoeffer (and countless others) as my example I look to begin my journey with a hopeful optimism.

"He was both a contemplative and an activist, who showed that you really can’t be one without becoming the other as well. His insistence on the life of personal discipleship to give belief its credibility was matched by his conviction that the life of community was the essential way to demonstrate faith in the world. All those paradoxes were necessary complementarities for Bonhoeffer and formed an integrated faith and life rare in his time, or in any time." -- Jim Wallis on Bonhoeffer.


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