I embarked on my journey through the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer several weeks ago, in preparation for my history Power Point presentation. I’ve chosen several books to read and among them is Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Letters and Papers From Prison. This one has been the most helpful so far. I already posted a poignant excerpt from a letter written from son to mother, as Dietrich recounted the last day the family had together celebrating his father’s birthday.
In this next excerpt, there is a long passage I am supposing is from his papers or a journal. The title of this section is Who Stands Fast? In this portion of his writing, he recounts our ethical concepts and how they all fail us in the face of evil. The list is similar to the stages of grief, only it looks more like the stages of disillusionment. I will consider one of these stages tonight. This one was especially painful considering what is going on in the capitol of unreasonableness this week. I can’t believe this was written over 70 years ago:
“The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.
The reasonable people’s failure is obvious. With the best intentions and a naive lack of realism, they think that with a little reason they can bend back into position the framework that has got out of joint. In their lack of vision they want to do justice to all sides, and so the conflicting forces wear them down with nothing achieved. Disappointed by the world’s unreasonableness, they step aside in resignation or collapse before the stronger party.”