Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Class in Acceptance

A book, The Cost of Discipleship, gripped me early in life. 

The German pastor, Bonhoeffer wrote it.

He stood for Germany's Jews because of his Christian faith and love of Jesus.

He was engaged in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Bonhoeffer was. 


He was killed in a concentration camp in 1945 weeks before the end of the world war.

Some Christian rose up against Nazis?


He did.

A hero.

He had no room for phony religion or faith for that matter. Most days I don't either.  Hyposcirsy I hate in myself, and, others.

I do.

Bonhoeffer did not stand for fakes.

He called that, cheap grace and favor and blessing!


He was more than an academic.

In the trenches, Bonhoeffer was in the streets where rubber meets the road.

I use him as an example in a class in acceptance the third Wednesday of each month, (tomorrow it meets) from 5:30 pm in Big Jack's Bar-B-Q Grille in Roseville, MI., 48066. David Johnstone, a disciple of Pops also leads the session.  "He saved my life," Johnstone confesses of Pops.  "From alcohol."

Father Pops was a Godlike guardian of my soul.

He was.

Of Pops' notes that the good Father Ed Popielarz left me, the revered  Father Andrew Greeley, professor of social science at the University of Chicago, wrote in the Foreword to my edited Soul Stuff, A Class in Acceptance Workbook:

"The basic Celtic theme and spiritual wisdom in Anam Cara by John O'Donohue is acceptance also."

Pops was ahead of his times.

"Self rejection was a theme in the first six decades of this century in the spirituality of seminaries and novitiates," concludes Greeley.

"We learned that the more we hate ourselves, the more holy we were.  Most of us, I suspect, knew better."

"Reading through this book I am sad that Father Popielarz or someone like him was not our spiritual director at the seminary."

"Surely it is true that we have propensities to self deception.  It is also true that we can use self-acceptance, like any other valuable insight, as a crutch to nurture our own envies and dislikes and to beat up on others.  But the corruption of the wisdom of our own dignity and worth does not refute that wisdom."

Sure, Father Pops was considered eccentric. 

And, that he thought outside the box, and was excluded by his official church leaders.

They broke communion with him.

Thank God for Bonhoeffer, for Popielarz, Greeley, among other realistic theologians.

When Bonhoeffer was executed, the crematorium at Flossenburg was broken. 

He  joined the fate of the multiple Jews who were killed also before him that day.

Bonhoeffer's body was tossed  on a pile and consumed in smoke.

His life was honorable for the Jews, for the cost of discipleship Jesus entails, and more.

He believed, like so many of us do, that faith in the Holy Spirit, and, obeying God, at the cost of death, is the lone way to walk the trail of tears and joys.

It is.

Evil is defeated this way.

The lone way.

A lonely way for me also.

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die," noted Bonhoeffer.

Would that I will die this way.

I long for this prophetic path.

This painful path is the culture of the God of the Sacred Scriptures.

It is the road of joy also, however.

Spirituality is about waking up to God's will and way.

Attuning self to God alone.

It means I must die to self and grip everlasting life in order to do away with all fear of dying.

God help me.

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