Monday, March 25, 2013

Bonhoeffer Book Club

I'm choosing this first question because I don't like it at all.
I think it will be a good question for encouraging discussion tho.

The question just comes off judge-y to me and lacks grace.

Here goes.

Do you think that if there was a stronger faith commitment Mrs. Bonhoeffer might have been able to handle the tragedy of loss more effectively?  Why or why not?  How have you or your family and friends handled tragic situations?  Have you "folded" as Mrs. Bonhoeffer did for a while? What lesson(s) did you learn from the situation that helped to strengthen your faith?  If your faith was not strengthened, why do you think that was the case?  

These did not rile me up so much.

Bonhoeffer wrote, "It's much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity."  Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

"Is there such a thing as a necessary lie?"
How would you answer this question?
Can you think of an example of a lie that would be "necessary"?
Would God condone it?  Why or why not?  Support your answer with Scripture.

I look forward to your comments and wisdom.

NEXT WEEK: chapters five and six


Mashed Potatoes. Interesting marketing. LOL

We went to breakfast at The Coppertop on Sunday after church.  This ad was on the back of our check.

We could not get over the choices of food they are obviously proud of...
mashed potatoes and soups.


It is almost as good as the billboard for a restaurant up in Marinette that screams....


What are they thinking?
Odd. Definitely odd.

Encourage one another,


  1. Good morning from Alaska! Fresh snow here but it's not that unusual of course -- I think I have lost my "chops" for winter driving though!

    My progress with the book is slow (lots of wonderful family time going on :-) nevertheless I am enjoying it very much. Looking forward to comments here as usual.

    Jesus spoke about humble prayers versus prayers of the Pharisees - that is what came to mind as I read about vain praying. Also, Anne Lamott and her most often said prayers: help and thank you . Simple but heartfelt.

    I have been thinking of Corrie Ten Boom a bit while reading of Bonhoeffer - seems like there was an instance where they had a choice to lie or speak truthfully of the hiding place. LOVE her BTW - what a hero in the faith. I need to re-read her wonderful story soon.

    Okay time to stop tapping on this kindle and have my FIRST cup of coffee :-)

    1. Julie4:11 PM

      Susan - I'm not reading the book so won't comment on that, but I can share that we have fresh snow here too...again...and I am so tired of it. If you see spring up your way, please send a little down to the lower 48.

      I'm also glad to be done with jury duty and then filling in for my boss, who was on vacation last week. Now maybe I can get back to QLCS! Hope you're enjoying your time stateside :)

    2. Hi Julie- you must know a bit about Alaska since you said "lower 48" :-)

      Spring is a month away at least here -- hope yours comes sooner. I am having a lovely time in spite of the weather. Thanks :-)

  2. Forgot to add : mashed potatoes -- YUM!

  3. Donna,
    Do you know who wrote these questions? That question about folding during know how I feel about that!!! Will answer questions later, but had to wonder about the question writer. I find it hard to believe it is Metaxas.


    1. It does not say who wrote them. I absolutely do NOT think Metaxas wrote them.
      I think this is the question writen by a young and naive person.

  4. Anonymous11:29 AM

    re: folding during grief...
    Honestly, who doesn't fold?

    My faith has been rocked to the core. I question it...and I doubt...But I also believe. And faith and doubt don't have to be polar opposites, right? Perhaps doubt is part of the journey of faith...

    I don't buy into anyone saying "If your faith was much stronger you would have (fill in the blank). Anyone who has been in a traumatic situation knows that these things have a life of it's own. You go through what you go through. No judgement...

    Those of great faith need to be gentler with those who doubt. Facilitating faith, but not trying to convince...

    Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. --Paul Tillich

    **Thank you for allowing us a safe space to explore here, much appreciated.


    1. Anonymous12:08 PM


      S.P. from Iowa

    2. Anonymous7:43 PM


      Mary Z

    3. "Who doesn't fold?" I couldn't agree more, Gina.


  5. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Well, I have to confess I haven't made it thru the first chapter of the book. I am bummed about this. I will catch up!!
    First set of questions: When something tragic happens to you or someone close to do you NOT fold? We're human. Not perfect. When my core has been shaken I have learned that God is in control, there is power in prayer, life does go on. I definitely would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for the hard things I've gone thru in life. So, I am grateful to God for that. That is a process: to be grateful to God for the hard times. It's humbling.
    Yes, I do agree with Bonhoeffer's statement.
    I hate when people lie. That said, I do think sometimes there are situations when a lie is necessary. I surely hope God would forgive!

    Sarah P. from it's white again in Iowa

  6. Anonymous1:11 PM

    First set of questions: The more I read them the more I get a little irritated by them. There is no right or wrong way to handle loss. It is a life-long learning process. Every person handles tragedy in their own way. Yes, faith and the support of family or friends can help tremendously. But, the pain is always there. It's just how a person deals with that pain is what can make a difference in their life.

    Sarah P. from Iowa

  7. Anonymous7:48 PM

    We recently discussed the "necessary" lie the Bishop told about Jean Valjean forgetting to take the candlesticks. Without that lie, there would have been no beautiful story of mercy and redemption...

    And grief is such a personal thing. No one deals with it in the same way, and we certainly don't deserve to be judged for not following a timeline or any sort of behavioral expectations.

    Mary Z

  8. Thank you for reminding us about jean valjean!

    I agree completely with you about mourning and grief.

  9. First set of questions:
    Here are a couple of quotes from the book:
    "Dietrich sang loudly and clearly [at the funeral of Walter], as his mother always wished the family to do. And she did, too, drawing strength from its words, which spoke of the heart's longing for the heavenly city, where God waited for us and would comfort us and 'wipe away every tear.'" (p. 28) Note the words of the hymn which she picked out for the service: "What God has done, it is well done./His will is always just./Whatever He will do to me,/In Him I'll ever place my trust." A person with a weak faith commitment would have a very hard time choosing a song like that at a moment like that. Our grief affects us physically, not just emotionally. One son away at war, one just killed in that very war, and a third called up to go just after...this kind of stress (on a mother!) was great. Jesus taught us that grief is an acceptable emotion, and unavoidable. He wept (and certain commentaries on the passage where he goes to Lazarus' sisters after Lazarus has been placed in the tomb render the word that is often translated "weep" as something far stronger, like "cried in anguish or rage." Why was he so affected? Especially since he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. What I have read on the subject points to Jesus' sorrow about death, and in particular the death of his very close friend and how it devastated that family, because death was not supposed to be. Mankind was created to live with God, and forever. Now that was all messed up (and can it be more clearly seen during times of war?) and it made him righteously angry. The beautiful thing is that he was setting himself, firmly and resolutely and voluntarily, to make things right again. Raising Lazarus from the dead was a foretaste of the glory that would come: from his own resurrection and victory over death forever to the resurrection of all unto eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth. In light of Jesus' own grief and compassion, Paula Bonhoeffer's grief was legitimate, understandable, and most certainly not a sign of a faith that was not strong. I'm having trouble remembering if the neighbors that she stayed with were Christians, and the only thing I might add is that it is possible that if she had had more of a Christian community of faith surrounding her, it might have been easier to bear. I am afraid that is coming out wrong. The fact is that by God's grace, she came through this difficult period, and as far as I could tell, her faith was not weakened by losing a son. Imagine this mother's broken heart at the end of her life, as so many of her boys had been taken in war.
    A quick word on my personal experiences...I have been through several things that I thought I never could have managed. I know that I am here because of God's grace and others' prayers. I have been strong in serious circumstances; I have folded for lesser. The point is that we must rely on God for everything; there is nothing, no thing, that we may accomplish on our own. It is all by his grace. Sometimes I have gotten dinner on the table and that in itself was a testimony to the help of the Lord. Sometimes I have "climbed a mountain." And that could only be by the Lord. We have to learn to say that he is the one who makes all things possible. A lesson that I have learned from tragic times is that the joy of the Lord is truly my strength.

    (But wait...there's more! haha)

  10. Second set of questions:
    Um, mainly this makes sense because Jesus did things like invite tax collectors to be disciples, free prostitutes from their lives of misery, touch "dirty" people without fear or hesitation, and forgive sinners who put their faith in him (such as the murderer on the cross next to him). Jesus said: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:5-8) Jesus constantly invited those who were burdened by their sins and sicknesses to come to him for rest, healing, and forgiveness. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow...and we are the ones he came to save, along with them.

    1. Third set:
      A tough question. I can think of many times in the Bible when someone lied in order to do what they thought would accomplish God's will, and not always during a time of war. Abraham and Sarah in Egypy, Isaac and Rebekah in Egypt, Jacob and Rebekah to Isaac regarding the blessing. There were also times when lies were used during war, as with Rahab and the spies. There are also instances in the Bible where lies are met with immediate and terrible consequences, as when Ananias and Sapphira lied about how much they received when they sold a piece of property and gave the money to the disciples, but not all of it. They lied to God and men, though, so maybe that's the difference? I don't know Scripture well enough to know how that factors in. At any rate, God is never surprised by our sin. While I don't think he condones lying (there are many verses that speak of how God hates lying, in the Proverbs especially), I believe he can redeem it. How he did so in Peter's life! How grateful are we that we have such examples in Scripture of great failure on man's part and great saving grace on God's part!

  11. I also sent an email to Metaxas, which will likely be answered by someone else, which is fine, asking who wrote the questions...maybe we'll get an answer. :)
    I love these discussions. I appreciate the wisdom here so much!!

  12. Just popping in again - glad I came back.

    Christina its great that you contacted Metaxas's people. I hope they respond. Your point #2 fleshes out what I briefly referenced - thanks! Your comments are thoughtful and spark my own thoughts to go a bit deeper - thanks again :-)

  13. SO eager to debrief with you all but I'm going to have to play catch up after Easter -- too much on my plate these last two weeks. I've already read it, so it won't take me long to jump back in. I'm having to sit on my hands to not jump in to the conversations that are already happening!!!

  14. I woke up hoping you had written your replies while I slept,Christina.
    Thank you for reminding me what song mrs Bonhoeffer choose. I remember crying when I read that and thinking she was stronger then I.

    1. You're sweet. I, apparently, have a lot to say. ;) Thank you for being gracious and reading it. I never thought of myself as chatty, but even just today someone told me they thought I had the kind of personality that would just talk and talk if comfortable. I guess so. haha!
      I also wanted to mention that someone I trust very much on theological matters said to me, when I brought up our discussion questions, that he thought there could be necessary lies, and that God could condone lying. He brought up the difference between lying for selfish gain vs. another reason. Our discussion didn't go much farther than that, and now my interest is further piqued. I thought it worth mentioning, since it seems like a hot topic. :)

  15. I have often heard people quote the verse about not grieving as those who do not have hope...and yet I find it very annoying? horrifying? troubling? how people choose random ideas of grief and call those biblical. Some have an idea of how long you can be sad, others how much you should or should not cry. I think breaking down in this situation sounds like an emotionally honest and realistic response. The horrors that were present in her life, as well as the potential horrors to come, are enough to send me off the edge just reading them. I sit in awe of the fact that she came around and returned to her busy life.

    More later...have to take my girl to the bus station.


    1. Di I have always interpreted that verse to mean that we have sorrow in a different way.

      Jesus was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, as the scriptures say. I just woke a bit ago and have not had my first cup of coffee or I would look them up.

      Finally - another sweet passsge in the Sermon on the Mount : blessed are those ehk mourn for they shall be comforted.

      I LOVE the words on that hymn.

      Grief is real - a journey that I have observed is very unique and personal for each individual.

    2. *who* mourn. :-)

  16. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Christina, once again thank you for your insight. I truly appreciate reading what you have to say.

    Sarah P. from Iowa

  17. I think you can lie to the elderly if they are confused. rather than cause them more anxiety you can agree with them ,

  18. Did you try the mashed potatoes? They might be out of this world fantastic.
    I am glad you could go out to eat after church. I always thought that was a fun thing to do.


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