So I’ve begun reading Eberhard Bethge’s “Dietrich Bonhoeffer – A Biography”. It’s over 1,000 pages long, and a seemingly daunting read. I’ve given myself the year to get through it, though I’m finding it may not take so long. The only thing that may delay me finishing it, is my aversion to being seen in public with such a large book. As if I need something to outwardly confirm my nerd-hood.
It’s a great read, especially for someone who’s just finished a fictional account of Bonhoeffer’s life, and needs something to fill in the cracks and set the record straight. Bethge was also a close friend and student of Bonhoeffer, which enables him to make statements and bring up memories that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else. This is also a revised edition, so many quotes from other Bonhoeffer sources and writings have been added to complete their part of the picture.
Bethge starts, as anyone would, at the beginning. But not simply Dietrich’s beginning. He goes back into the lives of Bonhoeffer’s parents and grandparents. We get a picture of what long-term influences and cultures go into creating the family Dietrich finds himself in. We see a family rich in cultural heritage, very musically inclined, and involved in positions of public influence and leadership. Quiet, firm, disciplined, and yet experiencing the fullness of life in many ways.
Within these first 100 pages, it takes us through the Bonhoeffer family into the years of Dietrich’s studies in college. The more I read about this man, the more relevant his writings, musings, and life become. His passion for ecclesiology (the study of the church), his Love for the bride of Christ, and his genuine/open wondering about a great deal of topics. His thoughts on how the presence of Christ comes to the world in the living community of believers could have come straight from a modern theologian. And these are only the beginning/formative years!!
Yup. I’m a nerd.