Bonhoeffer and the confessing church in the US...

Something is gnawing at me when it comes to the historic witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 65 years after his martyrdom - and 15 years after the bombing in Oklahoma City - I can't but think that there must be something more for people of faith to do than talk about civility in politics. Don't get me wrong, I celebrate that call for respect, careful thinking and honest rather than inflammatory speaking when it comes to the hard issues of this generation. And the recent "Covenant of Civility" is an act worthy of wider support. (For more information see: (

And yet... in the name of the truth, the state of Texas is currently engaged in an act of revisionist history designed to obscure the complexities of the American experience:

– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”

– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”

– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”

And yet... our ability or willingness to laugh at ourselves has almost disappeared. Colbert and Stewart are doing their best, but there is more fear and disdain than humility in the body politic.

And yet... there is also precious little public conversation about social sin - born of greed or arrogance - and when there is (a la Glenn Beck) it is used to denigrate the cause of justice. The Palin/Bachmann political machine use pictures of Hitler for President Obama when they are the ones who support fascist solutions. Many tea-baggers fan the flames of race hatred only to cry "censorship" when called on their fear-mongering.

Makes me think back to the wisdom and insight of Sam Keen - Faces of the Enemy - the exposes how we go about dehumanizing others so that we can hate and then destroy them. (Please see:

Which keeps bringing me back to Bonhoeffer and his insistence on naming the demonic and finding ways to oppose it with his very life. Close to the end of his life, he put it like this:

We cannot be honest unless we recognize that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur. And this is just what we do recognize - before God! God compels us to recognize it. So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation... where God would have us know that we must live as people who manage our lives without God. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us. The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually... for God is weak and powerless in the world and that is precisely the way - the only way - in which God is with us and helps us. Christ helps us NOT by virtue of his omnipotence, but by the virtue of his weakness and suffering.

We are called to be allies of the wounded - and give voice to the voiceless - yes?


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