Sixty-two years ago today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged at the Nazi concentration camp in Flossenburg, Germany, for his role in the anti-Hitler resistance. His books – Life Together, Ethics, The Cost of Discipleship, Letters and Papers From Prison, and others – continue to be read and discussed widely.
Last year, Harper San Francisco published A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, short meditations drawn from his writings for each day of the year.
I wrote the foreword to the book, and later excerpted it as a column in Sojourners magazine, noting:
The more I read Bonhoeffer, the more amazed I became. He seemed to break all the categories. He was a brilliant intellectual (earning his doctoral degree at the age of 21), yet felt called by the crisis of his historical moment to act, not just to think. 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.
Bonhoeffer continues to appeal today to those who are drawn to Jesus Christ, to those who are hungry for spirituality, and to those who seek to join religion and public life, faith and politics. On this Easter Monday, we remember him one of many whose faith led them to make the ultimate sacrifice.