Monday, November 3, 2014

Lindy's Late Night Reading Club - Strange Glory

I'd just like to say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn't go to church very often.  In his new biography of Bonhoeffer, Strange Glory, Charles Marsh says:
In Berlin he had never shown much interest in religious practice -- that is, going to church -- and even now as a student in a Lutheran theology program, he rarely appeared at his parish church on Furtwangler Strasse. (Loc 1250)
and later...
His dissertation may have focused on the church community, but he had been reluctant to spend much time in the church himself. (Loc 1337)
It seems that he was pretty spiritual, but not very religious.  I rather like that.

I've just started the book and, boy-o-boy, what a nice read!  It's one of those books that is just a pleasure to pick up.  Right from the beginning it is clear that Charles Marsh has done his homework.  We get shining little pearls along the way:

  • Like the fact that his mother was a devotee of Rudolph Steiner.  (Loc 196)  We don't know how much that influenced the way she educated Dietrich and the other Bonhoeffer children, but it's interesting to think about. Space aliens and all...
  • And we get details, details, details... like the fact that when Dietrich was a boy he enjoyed dressing up in a white party dress with a "blue silk petticoat underneath." (Loc 209)
  • We even learn that Barth listened to Mozart while studying.  (Loc 1140)  I love that about Barth.  I have my own relationship with Barth, not as fawning as Dietrich.  But I am often heard saying that Jesus has nothing to do with religion, and Marsh throws that in as one of his little gems. 
There is quite a lot about Barth and Harnack, whom I don't really know.  But I have enjoyed watching the proud young Dietrich fall in love with Barth and walk a line between that and his theology professors at Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Berlin. (Barth had been a student there too, but was considered something of a wild hair.  Dietrich somehow manages to reconcile Barth and the Reformation Protestants in his own unique voice.  Marsh calls him a "natural ecuminist.")   

I am only on chapter three or four so I can't give a full-on review, but I thought you all might enjoy this little glimpse.  I will go ahead and recommend the book on the basis of it's lovely prose.  I think it's going to be one of my top reads for the year. 

1 comment:

  1. Well. You've hooked me. It's going on my wish list!