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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 8, 2011 11:00pm-12:15am EST

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startling findings of economics because even though it kind of sounds obvious to us it took us a long time to get there. >> host: its always been the case just the technology and the distribution really enables a great variety of those, right? in other words, 20 years ago if you get a hardback book and had to buy one of the store and the price was 83 today there are 20 different ways of getting it. if you get it from 100 different retailers and eight different formats each had a different place that has a meaning or value to the consumer. ..
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>> host: that'll be a topic for your next book or maybe my next book if i get to if quickly. that's all the time we have. eduardo porter, author of everything and why we pay what we do published by port portfolio penguin. thank you very much. >> guest: thank you very much. >> coming up, eric metaxas recounts the life of pastor dietrich bonhoeffer. he believed he had a duty to protect the jews and destroy the third reich and get hitler.
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it takes place in new york, ten as about an hour and 10 minutes. >> it's great to be here on national television. [laughter] i'll try not to let the lens intimidate me. [laughter] i think i'm failing. [laughter] what's distracting me is the diagonal glass of water here. let me put this here. it really is a joy to be here. you didn't know when you came to this you would be part of a national tv studio add yen. did you know that? you each get $200; is that right? [laughter] c-span is going to provide that to you. maybe not. take that up with c-span. it's great to be in queens.
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i grew up three miles from here in jackson heights. i was born in haustoria. i'm greek and german. i'm half greek and german hence my surname, metaxsa and half german hence my love of zig freed and roy. [laughter] thank you. we moved to haustoria and then jackson heights as soon as possible. yeah, i did grow up in jackson heights, so it's a real joy to be here so close to where i grew up. i want to talk about how i came to write the book on dietrich bonhoeffer and then i'll talk about him, and we'll have plenty time for q&a. if you have other questions, take them outside please. there's a camera and we can't go there. i want to tell you how i came to
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write the book. i confess i never heard about him until 1988. i was raised in a greek orthodox church, actually right here in queens which is basically around the corner here, went to the proke yal school there, but as is the case with many people raised in the church, you don't really, you don't take is seriously. it's part of a cultural experience; right? to me it was about being greek and less of being an orthodox christian. it was a delightful experience and community, but it wasn't until after yale, and by the way, if you're thinking about your faith, think about going to a yale university. [laughter] that a bitter joke, but it's extremely secular, and if you have a serious biblical faith, that's not the place to nurture it. i graduated yale not quite a neilist, but not exactly full of joy and meaning, and i was
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looking for the meaning of life, and trying to be a writer, and by the way, i don't recommend that combination. it was -- my plan was to flownd r for a -- founder for a few years. i was good at that. i put that aside, stopped floundering and began to drift. that's very different. [laughter] and then i drifted and floundered together because i knew how to do them both. that's harder than you think. [laughter] it was around 1988, out of yale for a few years that i really came back to serious faith, and i -- it was during this time the guy that was sharing with me about the bible and all the things i was sure couldn't possibly be true, and i was thinking there's a lot of arguments. this is fascinating. why didn't i hear about this? in the midst of this he hands me the book, "the cost of
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discipleship". it's agreed. if you read a book like that, there are people of incredibly serious faith who are brilliant and who write about it in a way i never thought possible. i was very moved by the book, and my friend said have you heard of dietrich bonhoeffer? i said no. he tells me bonhoeffer is a german and because of his faith in jesus christ, serious christian, stood up to the narks cities and for the jews and killed in a concentration camp in 1945, three weeks before the end of the war. tragic. i remember being amazed by this story. i was annoyed because i had never heard of it. it's a story of a german because of his faith stands up to the jews and goes to his death in a concentration camp. what an amazing story. i was further moved by it as
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i've already mentioned because i'm german. my mother is german, grew up during this horrible time, and i know it from that point of view. my grandfather, i can say bluntly, was a reluctant german soldier. my grandma told me the stories of him listening to the bbc with his ear against the speaker because if you were caught, you would be in a concentration camp. he was forced to fight in a war he didn't believe in as many didn't, but that's another story. he was killed at the age of 31. my mother was 9. for many germans, certainly for my family, a huge tragedy this period and a great mystery. it was always a mystery for me to fathom how it's possible how this happened. what does god say to how this happened? what do we say as human beings?
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what is our understanding of what is humanity that we allow something like this to happen? this problem and question always captivated me. i even remember my mother when living here in jackson heights on 91st street on northern boulevard, she was friends with a german woman on on our floor. she was german and jewish. i remember my mother talking to her once, and she showed me the tattoo on her arm. now, at age 6 or 7, i didn't know what that meant. now i understand a little bit more, but this is a part of many people's lives and to try to understand how this happened, and so when i heard of the story of bonhoeffer, i was really captivated by it. i never thought i would write a biography about anybody the the way that came about was just a
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few years ago i was on cnn talking about -- i wrote a book called everything you wanted to know about god but afraid to ask. it's not literally everything, but there's three volumes. the woman on cnn asked me about the page of william will burrforce. i mentioned in a brief paragraph who took the bible seriously and led the battle to the abolition of the slave trade in the british empire. i mention this on cnn mentioning to leading to write a biography of william, this great man who because of his faith stot #* stood up for the african-americans in the slave trade, and i did write that book, of course. never thought i would write a biography, but i wrote that book. when that book came out, there was a movie called "amazing grace" and everybody asked me,
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okay, you wrote about that, who's next? some people said about whom will you next write? [laughter] that's correct. as an yale english major, i like the word whom, a big fan. it doesn't cost anything. it's a free word. feel free to use it. [laughter] there's nothing funny about that. [laughter] if i were to write a second biography, if, there's only one person to my mind that is like william, somebody who because of his faith stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves. that's dietrich bonhoeffer so obviously that led to my saying i would write that book, and i did write the book. it didn't expect it to be 600 page long book. if somebody told me it was going to be so long, i wouldn't have done it. i guess that's why nobody told
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me. it's an incredible story, our story, the story of europe, the story of what happened, and in any case, that's how i came to write it. i'll tell you about the life of bonhoeffer. bonhoeffer was born in 1906 into what can only be described as an utterly spectacular family. when you read about his family, it's hard not to be jealous even if your family is wonderful. his family was ridiculously impressive. his father karl bonhoeffer was the most famous psychiatrist in germany for the first half of the 20th century, so this is -- we're talking about an intellect on the level of dr. phil. [laughter] no, this guy was one of the leading scientists and doctors in europe in the first half of
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the 20th century, hugely republicked figure. actually, when the reich burned down, they deputized him to examine, to give a evaluation to the dutch arsonist. bonhoeffer was the go-to guy. in fact, when the conspiracy against hitler was going on, they were beginning to get carle bonhoeffer to determine as a famous psychiatrist to determine hitler is insane and that's why we need to remove him from power. he's an incredibly important figure. bonhoeffer is born into the family with a great father, carl bonn however, but everyone was amazing. his mother was a genius. his brothers and sisters were geniuses who married geniuses. his brother decides to go into physics and that means you split the atom. it's at that level.
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you can imagine the dinner table competing with that nonsense. he splits the atom at the age 23. i saw the atom and it's the size of a softball. that's a joke. [laughter] in all seriousness, he did split the atom. he was one of four brothers and four sisters. there's a level of intellectual competition in the family. his father was a professor i psychiatry at berlin university, all of the people in their neighborhood in their social circles were academic superstars. they had many jewish friends as you can imagine berlin in the early decades of the 20th century. it was an extraordinary environment to grow up. bonhoeffer's family was an extraordinary environment because his father was training
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the kids to think clearly, to think logically, to be rigorous in terms of logic, not to think sloppily. not to think on emotional lines, but to be disciplined and think logically and express yourself clearly. if you don't have something to say, don't say it. if you can't express it clearly, you think twie. it must have been tough to open your mouth around the table with all these geniuses, but i think it stood bonhoeffer in good stead because he being the youngest and brilliant as any of them really learned how to think clearly and as you'll see reading the book, this made all the difference going forward. bonhoeffer's -- well, bonn hof's browr, walter is killed in the first war. this was a real tragedy ?t family as you can imagine. at age 14, dietrich announces
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he's going to be a thee theologian. he called -- it was not expected. it was a little shocking in some ways and i think maybe disappointed. dietrich bonhoeffer being a genius was also a great musician. they thought he would go into music professionally. his other brother went into law and became the head of a legal department. they were all geniuses. when he said he was going into theology, it was disappointing for them, but he didn't say it lightly. this was not an adolescent fancy that he would repent of later and say no, i want to a rock star or indian chief or astronaut. he thought about it and said nothing about it for at least a year before he dared mention it because again, you didn't say things litely because you would be mocked if you go back and forth and change your minute.
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he makes the decision, but what he meant when he wanted to be a theologian was he wanted to distinguish himself academically. he wanted to be -- he wanted to be a big deal in the world of theology. his grandfather on the mother's side and great grandfather were in fact very serious theologians, very famous theologians. he make the decision to do this and is going to go to berlin university. we need to establish that berlin university in the 1920s was the premier place to study theology on the surface of the planet. this was the place to go. it's, you know, it's like you want to study science, go to mit, but this was the place. not only does he want to go into theology, but berlin university to study, and sure enough he is a genius, and within months of his arriving there, the living legends on the theological
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faculty are fighting over bonhoeffer who is 18 or 19 years old, fighting over him hoping to get him to write the dissertation under him to claim that's my boy, bonhoeffer. he is very intellectually independent. obviously ring, being -- obviously, being the son of bonhoeffer, he thinks clearly and establishes himself and rises quickly and impresses everyone. he gets his doctorate at age 21. anybody here do that? [laughter] bonhoeffer, you know, was as impressive as you may have guess the. he gets his brt.
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doctorate. the problem is what's interesting is at age 21, he gets his doctorate, but the question in theology, the larger question he was trying to answer as a thee theologian was what is the church? that was his question. in the course of answering the question in a very impressive way, he finds that he actually enjoys working in the church, not just working in the academic sphere, he loved that, but he also enjoyed working in the church teaching sunday school, enjoyed preaching, not just teaching, but preaching. he decides not only to have an academic career, but also to get ordained as a lutheran minister. this is difficult because you can't be ordained in germany until the age of 25. when you are really precocious, you're stuck and you have to
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wait. he goes to barcelona being in a german speaking congregation. the bonhoeffers love to travel. they couldn't help themselves. they were culturally very, very curious. they knew every painting and opera. they were extremely impressive. i didn't say they just weren't impressive on paper because we've all met people like that, but you don't want to spend time with them. do you know those people? surely no one here. [laughter] if you are that kind of a person, raise your hand. yeah, i didn't think so, but outside there building there are plenty. they were impressive on paper, but also were delightful people. i say that in the sense that they taught the children to care about other people and tolerant with other points of view. you can disagree and argue, but be loving with those whom you
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disagree. be generous to feelings. they took this extremely seriously with a part of culture of the family and this plays out in the years to come as we'll see. bonhoeffer and age 22, he goes to barcelona for a year, loves to travel. his family comes to visit him. at age 24, he can't get ordained. he's not old enough, so he decide to go to new york city, coming to you live from new york city, and just to spend a year, to spend a year in new york city. now, what's he going to do in new york city? he's going to go to union theological seminary, but you have to understand bonhoeffer already had his doctorate at age 21 from berlin university. you know, so this to him is like beginning to a community college practically. this was not something that he was not going there for a reasons of academics in
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particular, and he was not disappointed. the fact is that bonhoeffer gets to union, and i where about this in the book. it's actually quite funny. he writes in his letters home that he really is shocked by what quote on quote passes for theology at union, and in other words he found it to be shallow theologically. they had the right answers. it's interesting because in berlin university, they were very theologically liberal. he was not, but he respected the liberal theology of his professors in berlin. he respected them as academics, and he was able to learn a lot from them, but now he gets to union, and really what passes for theology there is -- he feels they are getting the right answers, but when they have to show the work, there's no work. they are cheating in a sense, and he's very gracious about his criticisms, but he was just not impressed at this point in terms of what passed for christian
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theology at union, but what did happen there outside of the boundaries of union for him or what happened while he was in new york that's of significance of his life. what happened is this. he met a fellow student, an african-american from alabama, who invites him to come visit at a baptist church in harlem. bonhoeffer who is culturally curious. he wanted to know everything, experience different thing, and so he goes to harlem one sunday morning in probably september of 1930 to visit this church. what he experiences there simply staggers him. he had never seen anything like this before. he sees, first of all, a gigantic congregation, literally the largest church in america, thousands of people in this church. he sees people worshiping god in a way that was incredibly vibrant, never saw this in the
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dispassionate religious negative sense lutheran circles which he traveled in germany and new york city. mainline white christianity was in some ways depressing to him like people are going through the motions, but it didn't seem real to me. now he goes to this baptist church and sees an african-american congregation that is alive and seems actually to be worshiping the living god. the songs were captivating. he was fascinated by the music and went to the record shops to get copies to take them back to germany which he did, but he was fascinated by the level of faith. obviously,-a congregation of suffering. african-americans in new york city in 1930, these are people who are not strangers to suffering. somehow they were not playing church. they were taking is seriously. bonhoeffer was so stunned by the experience, that he vows to go back to this church every single
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sunday that he's in new york city which he does. he goes back not only to worship, but to teach sunday school and to get involved in the lives of the african-americans. he was captivated with the race question which he had not experienced yet in germany, so bonhoeffer gets very, very involved in the lives of the african-americans there, and he is so fascinated by it, but one thing that happens to him in the year he's in new york that i can't mention with an audience like this, but in 1931 at easter time, bonhoeffer decide he wants to go to a big impressive white protestant churches to see how they do easter, you know? now, if you're jewish, you might not know this, but as a gentile i'll tell you. easter is when the gentiles go to church. [laughter] did you know that? yes. like serious christians go every sunday, but easter, that's when the gentiles go.
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it's very crowded, tough to get in, and bonhoeffer experiences this. this is true. he literally cannot go because it's so crowded, you have to get tickets to go to easter service, and being an exchange student from germany, he has no ticket and can't get in? what does he did on the only easter sunday he's in america? he goes to here rabbi stiefn -- steven wyess preaching at carnegie hall. how interesting and fascinating this man who had no inkling whatever in a few years his life would be intertwined with judaism, the jews of europe that on easter sunday in new york city, he goes to here the rabbi. i was amazed by this frankly, and i write about it in the book. i got an e-mail from the grandson of the rabbi.
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what a joy to meet him and get to know him. absolutely fascinating. in any case, bonhoeffer has an experience in the black church, and i have to say just imagine in 1930, a to-headed -- toe-headed respectful academic going to harlem. he's an amazing guy and transformed by this experience. when he comes back to germany in the summer of 31, everyone notices he's different somehow. what has happened do dietrich bonhoeffer? he was comakely and theologically impressive younger, but now he takes the faith thing more seriously. he's no longer just into it academically. it grabbed his heart in a way. the experience among the african-americans of harlem, this experience with serious christianity touched him. his friends notice he is different.
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he doesn't speak about the bible as text, but the living word of god. this was dramatic to say this in the berlin university in the theological circles in 31 and 32. he was bold and such a genius he could get away with it. he say what he believed was right. he begins to take this idea of a personal relationship with god seriously. he tells his students on retreats, would tell them to go off and meditate on a scripture from the psalms or whatever came up that day and meditate on it to see what god had to say about it personally. this is a big departure for this time. he was changed by his experience in the african-american church. bonhoeffer also now was, because he seems to be taking god more seriously, he is new beginning to see what's happening politically in germany, and he knows -- and i go into this
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detail in the book -- but he somehow seems to know before anybody else knows what the nazis mean to germany. he seems to be able to small that this is -- smell that this is directly, directly opposed to germany as a nation, but more importantly to the church in germany that if you take god seriously and not just a gentile who goes to church, but take this seriously, you're going to have big problems, but most people were, as we know, extremely, badly fooled. bonhoeffer was not. he begins to speak out from the lecture. imagine, he says things to his audience like if you're a christian in germany, you have only one savior and that's jesus christ. when he says this, it's obvious what he's saying that hitler is not the savior, but so many germans who i think were biblyically ignore rant, they
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didn't -- ignorant they didn't have a sense this was almost satanic. many people were swept along by this. bonhoeffer saw what was happening and understood it to be very dangerous many years it seems before anybody did. it's fascinating. i think part of it has to do with his scientific training by his father to think clearly and not swept up in emotion like others, but to see what they are saying and hold it up against the truth and be able to solve for x so to speak, and bonhoeffer sees this and begins speaking out publicly. when hitler becomes the chancellor in 1933, january 31, two or three days later, bonhoeffer goes on the radio and gives a speech dissecting the idea of the fiirh principle. i disappointed vote a chapter in the book to this idea to the principle. it was an extremely popular idea in germany in the first decades of the 21st century.
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that means leader. hitler wrote in bad idea of the principle into the chancellor ri and wrote it off a cliff 12 years later carrying europe with him. bonhoeffer three days after hitler is chancellor gets on the radio dissecting the principle and swallowing its own tail as it were. he says that true leadership must come from god, in other words that if you are depp pewtize the, you have the authorize to lead because you are submitted to a higher authority, otherwise you have no authority. bonhoeffer talks about this, and again, this was a stick in the eye of the nazis two or three days later he is chancellor to dissect the very idea upon which they had ridden into power, but he dissects this idea and is bold about it. from this point on, he is rather bold, not foolishly so in the mere way, but rather bold in the criticisms of the nazis.
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it's pointed quickly because if you know the history and again, i go into this into the book because i was not familiar about it, but how quickly the nazis took over every piece of society. what we in america don't really know often is how dray maltic the idea of the strags of church and state is. germany had no history of the separation of church and state. if you are head of the state, when you feel is within the boundaries of what you can do is take over the church because the church and state were wedded together. hitler does this happily and begins to intervene in every part of society including the church. the state paid the pastors salaries because you have an official state church, and they begin to now take over and infiltrate the theology of the christian church. they begin to nazi the doctrines
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of the church. few people like bonhoeffer understood immediately what was happening. bonn hof is very quickly a vocal leading critic of what is happening to the german church. it becomes most pointed a few months into 1933 when the nazis start making their laws and saying if you have jewish blood, you cannot serve in government posts. well, this now extends to the church because if you are a pastor who has jewish blood, your father is jewish or your grandfather is jewish or your whole family is et nickically jewish but you converted two or three generations before, the nazis are not interested in what you believe, but your blood. they see everything through a racial lens. bonn hof ear -- bonhoeffer's best friend was a brilliant lutheran minister, so
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now the nazis are saying you cannot be a member of the state church if ethnically you're jewish. we don't care what's in your mind, just your vains. bonhoeffer is probably the number one person who sees what this means, and he writes an essay about this called the "church and the jewish question". it was a big deal and very pioneering. it's easy to forget how badly people can be fooled over the years. in 1930 in america, american white christians were fooled by thinking the blacks should have a separate church or whatever. we weren't where we are in 2010 on this issue, but bonhoeffer looks at this and with the mind, this scientific rigor with logic, goes through and says, no, you cannot divide the church along racial lines. if the church is anything, it's the place where jew and gentile
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stand to the. if the church has any meaning, that's what it is. it's not a place to look at things racially. bonhoeffer at this point is taking the lead in any of these things. if that's my wife, i'm not here. [laughter] so bonhoeffer now gets involved in what is called the struggle for the church because the church was very confused. they were badly fooled by the nazis into thinking -- anybody that tells you hitler was a christian, he was not. he was a gentile. there's a difference which i think we established, but hitler was politically so brilliant that he would never say that he's against the church because he didn't have the power that saddam hussein had a few years ago. he had to play the political game to get more and more power. he understood to play the game and talk a good game with the church and always pretend to be on the side of church and for
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morality speaking on it those lines so he's basically thought to be on the right path. nobody thought he would be there for 12 years. everybody thought we'll use him to move us in the right direction. you know, nobody took him seriously, but bonhoeffer understood what he was trying to do is fundamentally enter into the church. as a pastor, he is to speak out against it. he's the leader on speaking out against it and was very involved in the barman declaration, a document that a few pastors wrote, not so few, actually quite a few wrote in which they finally said we are stepping away from the german state church. the german state church is he represent call, a post state, it is no longer the lute ran evangelical church. we are pushing away. it's very brave in 1934.
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give them credit. they wrote it, and a big deal now. you have many german pastors identifying with this document and standing away from the nazis church. bonhoeffer is a leader in this. it was a brave moment for the german church, but i think he felt that really even this was not enough. i think that even the people on the good side, even the people who remembered the confessing church, and there were thousands of these pastors who stood up bravely, and i write about that in the book because we need to remember them, but he realized they are not taking hitler quite seriousliness. they don't understand if we don't fight hitler hard in a sense, take this extremely seriously immediately, the ma nazis are becoming more and more power. . he gets frustrated because people are calling for more dialogue and never seem to think the nazises were going to do what they were going to do that
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we in hind site know that they did. bonhoeffer in the frustration i think he sees that even his friends don't get it. he goes to london for a year and a half to pastor a german congregation. even then he's extremely involved on the phone all the time. if he was alive today, he would have three blackberries and always connected to berlin and talking with people involved with this and getting the latest on how the church is getting taken over by the nazises. it's extraordinary. he comes back to germany. in 1945, the confessing church, the good guys, deputize bon hover to -- bonhoeffer to train young seminaries. their seminaries are not worth going to. if you are a good guy, you don't want to go to the a want to beseminary.
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now the confessing church has to have their own seminaries. he leads one on the coast and then this, i see as the in some ways the golden era of bonhoeffer. he puts into practice what he believes is true christianity, to teach young men who want to be pastors. what does it mean to be a christian? it means not going through the motions b standing up against evil, be willing to lay down your life if called to do it, you have to know how to pray, have a relationship with god, you don't have to only know scripture, but live and obey it. if god says something in the scripture, you determine if god is saying it to you and be willing to do and if you say you believe it but don't do it, you don't really believe it. you can't call yourself a christian unless you are willing to live it. he's teaching this to the
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seminarians. we know the nazis become powerful and shut this downment bonhoeffer takes the seminary training under ground and becomes a floating craps game. it's at a house, and he was tricky. he was very deceptive in a good way in you can understand what i mean. he knew that to lie was not to lie. when the bible says you shouldn't lie, it's not god's way of saying to every christian is someone asks if you're hiding a jew in the basement you say no. the good christian says no, we have no basement here. you're supposed to be doing -- you're supposed to obey guy in a more fundamental way. he understood to deceive the evil is not to disobey god somehow, but to serve god. this plays into his theology.
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maybe we can talk about this in the q&a. he takes the training under ground, but they catch up with him eventually. the possibilities to serve god become narrower and narrower and more and more difficult because the nazises are becoming more power. they forbid him from speaking publicly because they know where he's coming from, and then finally he's forbid from publishing. he had the ability to publish a book called the prayer book of the bible which is all about the psalms. you have to try to understand the absurd climate, but the nazis church was trying to create a pseudochristianity was utterly devoid of judaism. let me just say, good luck with that project. impossible. insane, but they actually were trying to do it. this is what bonhoeffer was up against.
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the idea these crazy nazis want to create a religion in which they are wiping out any judaism. you'll have problems with that. jesus was judeish, a rabbi, his mother jewish, every apostle, jewish. the whole thing. how can you do this? the nazises were trying to create something that was really a neopagan religion. if they continued to call it christianity, they could fool the people who were theologically ignorant. bonhoeffer has the ability to write a book on the psalms at the time when the nazis reich church says we don't want to deal with this anymore. it's almost comical they went this far, but bonhoeffer is now forbid from publishing. what is he going to do? the nazis are becoming more and
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more powerful and his options are being next to nothing. bonhoeffer in 1938 sees that war is coming, and he was not a pass vies contrary to what you read, but he would never pick up a rifle to fight in hitler's war because this is the war of aggression, not a just war. bonhoeffer would never do that. what was he going to do? he cuts to the chase to go back to new york, to come back to new york. he does that in 1939 with the idea that he is going to maybe teach at union or do something to get away from the madness that's happening in germany so he'll be preserved to teach another day and lead another day. he gets on the ship in june of 1939, he comes to new york, but already he's praying constantly asking god to lead him because he was one of these people that was honest enough to say there is no right answer. i have to know, god has to guide me because i don't know what to
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do. it's madness. he prays earnestly, and i devote a whole chapter in the book which really has never been covered before, but what he's thinking every day, his journals, what he prays about every day, saying to god, you have to show me what to do, and he's reading the scripture verses every day and saying is this speaking to me? is god speaking to me? it's phase nateing his thought process, but no sooner does he get off the boat that he already knows he's made a mistake. he cannot leave germany and abandon his people in this time of suffering. he spends time talking with people in new york saying i can only stay a year, 8 months or 5 months, and then he goes back after 26 days in new york city. it's almost funny. he's like a ghost and it's so clear his heart and soul were in germany and he had to go back. he knew he was going back to
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danger. that much he knew. he didn't know the specifics of what, but he felt that if god calls me to go, i will go. that's what i do. i obey god, so he goes back. when he arrives in berlin, everyone is shocked. they pulled strings to get him out and now wonder what he's doing here now. he says, simply, i made a mistake. i made a mistake. now, what he does specifically, and this is where it's fascinating and i'll close. bonhoeffer is involved in a conspiracy to assassinate hitler. the way he gets in that is first of all his family were leading antinaziss from the beginning. as soon as hitler was in power before he was even in power, the whole family knew who hitler was and he was evil and not on board with the nazises. bonn hof's brother-in-law was a member of german military intelligence. i have to say german military intelligence at this time was
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the center of the conspiracy against hitler, so bonhoeffer's brother is a lead conspirator. bonhoeffer was involved in many conversations in the conspiracy in the years leading up to 1939. he was friends with the people. he knew them. he is a theologian and pastor giving them moral support in the conspiracy against hitler. this was not easy for germans. he knew this was what god was saying and he was helping them in their courage to stand against the nazises. he comings back in 1939, and he decide to officially become a member of the conspiracy, and this is fascinating. he decide to go from confession to conspiracy. there's a chapter in the book called confession to conspiracy. the nazises had no problem with you if you said you were a christian. okay, thank you very much.
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you are no threat to me. you're no threat to me. if you actually act on those beliefs, now you're a threat, and bonhoeffer says now is the time for me to boldly act on my belief. i say the god of the bible is real. i say see jus is god and he says this. now, will i obey him when my life is at stake or do the convenient thing? he was courageous and decide to move forward. he gets involved officially now in the conspiracy by being hired and we know they come to germany in 19389 and he has to do something for the third reich otherwise he'll get killed. he says, yes, i'll work for the german military intelligence under my brother-in-law, and he's going to further the third right during the time of war, but we know what he's actually doing, he's now a member of the conspiracy. i go into this again in detail
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in the book, but it was a vast conspiracy, and bonhoeffer's role was to travel around europe to make contact with members of the allied governments, most importantly with the churchill government, anthony eatton, and let them know there are germ mans inside germany involved in the plot to kill hitler. this is his main role. he does this and continues to write, writes his book ethics during this time and trail -- travels around. in the book i tell the story in a narrative form of a love affair he has. for him it was late in life at 36. he never thought he would get married because the times were so difficult. he meets this woman, fall in love, it's a beautiful story, and i tell that through their letters which for first published in 1992.
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i should say the previous big biography on bonhoeffer, the only one was published in 1967 by his best friend, an extraordinary book, but he didn't feel the freedom to write about the love affair and the letters were not published. i have the joy of being the first one to tell this story, and a number of other things that had not come out until recently, but this is a beautiful story. he gets engaged, but no sooner is he engaged then in april of 1943, he's arrested. they catch up with him, and they put him in military prison. why? not because of his involvement in the conspiracy, but because the conspiracy was not yet exposed, but they knew there was something wrong. they tapped the phones and got him. because he was involved in operation 7, a plot to get seven german jews out of germany into neutral switzerland. he got vor involved in this and
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it was very difficult and spenltd a lot of time trying to do this and eventually he's caught and put in prison. bonn however felt he could fool the prosecutor and win and get out. he believed this or if that doesn't happen, the conspirators who are moving along will kill hitler, and i will get out. he really was hopeful to be in prison, but not going to his death. he doesn't get out, and in 1944, july 20, you know the story. they blow up the briefcase bomb in prussia, in hitler's quarters. people are killed, hitler is not among them. hitler survives, and from this point on for the first time, july 20th, 1944, the conspiracy
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is exposed for the first time ever. they made a number of attempts on dietrich bonhoeffer's life, but this one is the last one. suddenly hitler realizes there's all these people in the conspiracy, # so thousands are arrested, tortures, names come up under torture and one of the names is dietrich bonhoeffer. he's in prison and transferred to prison on prince in berlin, and from here on in his days are numbered. we don't know if the war is going to end in time, if the nazis use him as a bargaining chip, but we know things are winding down. he probably won't survive, and in fact, he doesn't. on hitler's express orders, april 9th, 1945, three weeks before the end of the war, he's hanged by the nazis at
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flossenburg concentration camp. this is pure revenge on hitler's part. he dispized christian pastors. don't let anybody fool you. they despised serious christians. it's news to me. we need to know the facting on this. it's extraordinary. he killed bonhoeffer and the body was thrown on to a pile of corpses and he was borned in this fashion, but i think he would have considered it the highest honor to die with the other victims of the third reich and to be disposed of in the same way, to be identified with them. i think he would have thought of it as a high honor. he gave a sermon on death in 1933 and talks about death in his sermon and says that apart
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from god, death is a horrible thing, but anybody who is actually come to know god personally and, of course, he's preaching to christians saying this is the point of the your faith, not just to be a nice person, but know that god is real and he loves you and wants you to have a relationship with him. bonhoeffer preaches this 12 years before his death and says if anybody has come to know god, from that moment, they are home sick to be with him. if you actually experienced his reality, that's what it is to have faith, and so bonhoeffer believes this and preaches this with vigor in 1933 and well, believe me in 1945, he believed it more strongly and anybody who went to his death ringing his hands wishing he could get out of it somehow. the facts don't lead us there. he untd he was serving god and no greater way to live or die to know you are serving god and
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doing the right thing. his father wrote a letter to colleagues at the end of the summer of 1945 and said we lost four, two sons and two son-in-laws so we're sad, but proud. my children lived in the way we taught them. during the evil times, they did the right thing. they went out of the world with their head's up with the peace and joy of god, and i think that's bonhoeffer's message for us. we all need to hear it because life is hard. bonn however live ited -- bonn bonhoeffer lived it and that's why we need to follow it. [applause] >> i love multiple choice questions.
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>> [inaudible] >> well, it was fascinating to me again, because i went into this not knowing about the history. one of the things that i learned was that it seems to me most of the people involved in the conspiracy against hitler were serious christians; right? many were catholics, bonhoeffer once involved in the conspiracy, he was working with catholics. i write about them in the book a little bit age a number of -- and a number of others, but there's no question they stood together. the conspiracy was a rather wide conspiracy. there was a number of pieces to it. as far as i can tell most were serious kris chaps and when they went up against the people's court, this evil man who this was the show trial, that a number of them tortured knowing they are going to their death, they said, you know, that i
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quote this in the book. i don't remember, but they basically, they did this because this was the right thing to do before god, and then to stick a stick in the eye of nazis, they said they did it for the jews. wow, to say that in the people's court, but i think they had seen that this it the end of my life. i'm going to speak the truth, so in any case -- >> [inaudible] i've -- the jeer -- germans come in two days later -- >> is your mic on? >> i was in berlin and concentration camps for six months. i was liberated. there was a lot of germans in the concentration camp, and
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often wits and there was quite a lot of germans. >> people don't know that, and thank you for saying that, and it's an hoer nor to speak here with you and the audience. i am fascinated to learn this myself, to learn how much more complex the whole situation was, and again, speaking at somebody who -- my family suffered. my mother lost her father. this is a small thing to others, but to understand that how many germans suffered and could not speak up. of course, they were sent to the camps if they did speak up. i had no idea of the depths of this, but thank you for sharing your personal experience. >> you talk about bonhoeffer's devotional life. can you talk about that as far as his daily readings? you mentioned how the specific psalms he had for the day.
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what did that look like? >> i assume everybody listening will read the book so -- [laughter] actually i don't care if you read it, just buy it. i don't care if you read it. [laughter] the fact is bonhoeffer that i discovered in the research was different than the bonhoeffer i heard about. what i mean is he was an extremely devout christian. he was not just brave in a general way, but that he drew strength from god and he studied the scriptures every morning. he was very self-disciplined, and he would read the scriptures and pray through the scriptures. he didn't read them as a text on how to behave, but this is god speaking to me personally. he did this every morning even during the time he was in prison. he did this every single morning to get grounded, and i think it
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gave him the courage he had. people don't realize how serious he was about prayer and about reading the scripture. he was extremely serious about it, and i think that anybody who has this kind of cavalier attitude that i want to be brave. bonhoeffer is presented as a german guy, a cool guy, but, you know, i mean, he was sexually pure. he was somebody that -- he took god very seriously. that's where his courage came from. it's important to understand that and it's an inspiration to me and others to understand this guy read the scriptures every morning and every morning he prayed. they are all prayers together in the seminary. he didn't take it lightly. it was profound. there's a question in the back. we have to wait for the microphone, but for c-span purposes. the whole world wants to know what you have to say. [laughter]
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>> i was wondering if you were able to interview anybody from that period or any of the descendants of the bonhoeffer friends or family? >> yes, the answer is yes. next question. no, i'm dlieted to tell you. my wife and i had the privilege of visiting with bonhoeffer's niece at her home in germany. we had coffee with her one afternoon in the spring of 2008. she is a figure in the book. i write about her in the book. she's the niece of bonhoeffer. she lived through this. she is one the characters in all of this. she drove with bonhoeffer and when he tries to escape from prison. he could have escaped if he wanted to. i talk about that in the book as well. she was involved in all of this and married bonhoeffer's best friend who was the father of the studies that come from him. we had a wonderful afternoon
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with her, and also in a german nursing home in hamberg, we visited with the eldest sister of bonhoeffer's fiance. her older sister is alive and spent the afternoon with her. this woman, she heard bonhoeffer preach in 1935. i mean, it was so amazing to me to be breathing the same air with this woman for a few hours and to break bread with someone who broke bread with dietrich bonhoeffer. it was a great privilege. ..d the great documentary on bonhoeffer. he gave me their contact information and made it possible for me to meet the delightful women in germany two years ago. thank you for asking that.
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: i won't try to answer that since i'm not a theologian or student of the church. >> perhaps as a true or false lestion lurking out therefalsen someplace. there is a question here and then in that back. >> did he have any actual interaction with jews on the way
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to the concentration camps, as they were being rounded up, as they were being persecuted in the street? >> i'm not sure. i didn't see any evidence of that in the way that you're putting a. but bonhoeffer, this is an important thing to say. because his family was such a big deal, date connections in high places and they knew what was going on, we are average german never would've had access to this information. bonhoeffer's brother-in-law of coors was a leading figure in the ministry of justice and madrona turbine military intelligence. so the whole bonhoeffer family news to him in many other other friends of theirs, but they knew what was going on. both pushed bonhoeffer for the carucci had. he knew before almost before anybody else what was coming and what was happening. and he would hear things your average german wouldn't care. why? the leadership never wanted them
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to hear it because if they euratom know what's going on. so we know some germans knew something, things didn't know anything. basically the bonhoeffer family did more than anybody. and they were very involved in this. i didn't say this, but bonhoeffer's twin sister tribune, to me was closer to anybody in the world for most of his last commission made a jewish man and they had to flee germany to england in 1937. this is very personal for bonhoeffer. his brother-in-law, best friend come in many people in his life were jewish. and so, his experience in this on a personal level and i think that added battleship force him to think more clearly about what god is telling me to do. he couldn't just dismiss it cavalierly. he had to think, what is god calling me to do? make many people were forced to think through the way he would've come at a flippant to god that thou shalt not kill so
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i shouldn't go. bonhoeffer said no, i'd shalt not murder. it doesn't mean that in some circumstances to protect the innocent you don't use a weapon. i mean, it becomes very difficult. what i love about bonhoeffer is the force does not easy answers, but to really think through what is god really saying here? not to say and what do i want god to save. bonhoeffer had to answer this question. he said he can't allow these numbers to get their hamster to when i am a pious pastor market involved. theoretically that's hypocrisy. i have to really wrestle with this. i think the fact you a personal connection forced him to wrestle with it. but we are the benefactors of this rigorous thinking and i think my greatest hope would be people would read my book and it will lead them to read bonhoeffer because he really shows us with real faith is in a
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way oftentimes we don't see it. we often see what bonhoeffer describes as cheap rates. but it has no meaning. it becomes meaningless. he forces us to think it through. and they think he is to me a great example of what does it mean to let such your faith in eagle circumstances quite to me he was the model for a two force us to think about what is the real thing? what is the real thing with a? there was a question. the one in lavender. or lilac, excuse me. i apologize. i want happen again. >> this is not a question but a comment. you are talking about hitler's hatred of the clergy. i have an uncle who was politically active in germany but the rest of 1933. in a concentration camp. to remember pastors in the
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concentration camp. and he said at the time that -- [inaudible] >> say it again. >> were treated worse than the jews. >> you never hear this. thank you for sameness. i have to say this is a lesson to me to read about this. often we get a very cartoonish version of history and it's not a cartoon. it's very -- there's a lot of great, and a lot of complication and it's very easy for us in 2020 hindsight to say this is what happened, but to live through that. obviously with much more complicated. and i have heard that. no bonhoeffer, many of the men and seminary -- if you remember the confessing church viewer march by the sidelines. if you're in the war, they would pitch in the front lines literally because they need a kilt. sort of like, what was the same? david and sheba's husband, you
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know, put them on the front lines. they were literally marked for death, but very interesting and educational. yes, sir. we need a microphone. >> first of all, excellent lecture. it really was just wonderful. [applause] faq to do my biography now. you know, i'm a student of the holocaust in the ghetto, the uprising. it's still so hard. the resistance, the bravery. can you say these people, their top by their mother, their father and the things that were done it so hard to get through this to read about stroup and the liquidation of the ghetto. it's just heartbreaking to me.
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for the marches, afterwards in the war is almost over. it seems the world of the historians was probably in my opinion the worst of genghis khan, was the most evil. and sometimes i wonder if it was a hard time for having us. we have forgotten this. it's gotten in the way a little bit for religion. but again, take the baby, but then i have to take it and smashed the brain and everything. very, very hard to get through all this stuff. >> this is to me what is so fascinating. anybody who doesn't believe in god or doesn't believe in good or evil, who's to say what he though quite faulty with people. smashing the baby's brains against the lawless evil. if you can't say that evil. to be intellectually honest can't say it's evil because the category of evil doesn't exist. as a christian, my theology, the biblical theology is really
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broken world. this world is not the way it's supposed to be. there is evil in this world, right? and god is working against the evil. he does not condone the evil obviously. it's a big mystery. but the point is the world is broken and all you need to do is look at the holocaust. and if you don't understand that human beings are capable of these kinds of things, study this. and you'll see anybody with a cavalier attitude towards it, you know, most things happen for a reason. people see these incredibly sloppy things. all things work out in again. yet tell that to the jews and i'll switch twisting his family murdered. you have to have a more complex way of life. if your not forced to look at these things come even sloppily say about the visit to good we just got here by accident. i would say is a person of faith, i don't know how you can justify that.
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if we just all arrived by accident and there's no god and no meaning, you cannot condemn the mounties for this. it has no meaning. you cannot call it evil because there's no such thing as evil. these are important questions and i think we don't deal with them very well in our current culture. we don't have these conversations on tv. you have to deal with this. if life has no meaning in real life i accident, if we direct the process coming into the world, our lives are meaningless and we can't condemn anything. it's all just part of evolution and the sloppy sense, but things have been. i will see how a human being can be content with that worldview. to me, not the focus like a laser, that this is what human beings do. tommy what do you make of this? that's the question. to see a person might bonhoeffer, was a shining light of goodness in the midst of this evil, it gives you hope, gives me hope it helps me make sense of it.
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otherwise i would want to kill myself. it's just so including amazing grace. william and the heroic campaign to end slavery. for more information, visit this web site, we are of the national press club talking with andrew young
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and kabir sehgal. can you tell us how you came up with this book? >> he came to me when i was the mayor and he was in second grade, and we started a friendship. i was impressed with him as a second grader and then he's been through dartmouth and london school of economics and now he is a banker with jpmorgan and we are 50 years apart when and it's an intergenerational dialogue we don't agree on anything and we say things and do things to promote each other intellectually. but what that does is it makes for lively kind solti ideas. >> what are the dates that you have? >> we have debates on most
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things. but the one of the biggest is on the economy and why that unemployment right now, how we should go about solving that, civil rights was a big leader to see that the jobs and economic front was part and parcel of the civil rights movement. we are you should we take the agreement to this and the hour keynesian approach to solving this, we also argue about the funny things like he believes it arranged marriages. i don't actually and by tradition is he says we need to find someone for you and i will go find someone for you and i said thanks but no thanks so we argue about love, life, religion and politics. >> is there a sequel in the works? >> i don't know. you never can tell because of we finished about a year ago and we still probably talk every other week and we still find something to disagree about. but the thing is the world is a
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complex place and he is traveling around now. i've traveled around them more than 100 countries in my lifetime and so we are always comparing notes, but our real objective is to try to understand and help him have a vision to create the future. >> and what are you helping him do? >> i.t. we are trying to get this book on the kindle and more technology but more importantly, i am trying to help him understand as best possible the financial world and why hedge funds and private equity funds are not the enemy directly part of the solution and we need financial engineering, some people say financial engineering led to the economic crisis and i say it is a way out of the financial crisis. >> i say both are true. >> thank you both.


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