2/16/2007

Goodbye



For the final episode of Little House on the Prairie they smashed up the town and then blew it up. A fire broke out on the grounds of the M*A*S*H set and they managed to write it into the plot of the final episode. I have no fancy ending to this blog. Just a redirect.

2/14/2007

update on mom

Keep praying. My mom was admitted to the hospital the night before last for the fluid surrounding her internal organs. She is starting the pill form of chemotherapy. They asked about whether they should look into hospice care yet and were told no. This is a hopeful sign. Thanks for all the love and support.

2/12/2007

Should I take the Leap?

I'm leaning more and more towards switching to my Wordpress site and just leaving this one up for archives. Main reason: few returning visitors, few comments anyway. Reason for not: blogger's email to post feature. Reason to leap: blogger's comment feature is so cumbersome that I think most folks give up trying to comment. That's my theory anyway. Reason for leaping would be that Wordpress's comment feature is much easier to use. But by looking at my blog you wouldn't know that. Anyone else gone this route and had issues?

2/11/2007

and then Hope

Almost as soon as I finished that last post the song "Hope" by Mason Proffit began on my ITunes. The lyrics go:

"There's a mountain/there's a lake/there's a people who God did not forsake/there's a river Lord and there's a way/and there's one small word we all need to say/

Hope/for a world of lovin'/hope for a time of givin'/hope is a word worth livin'/let's live together"

the rational mind, waiting, and suffering

Sometimes the most important muscle in my body, the pulpy mass in my head in which I feel emotion, use cognition, read, process and disseminate information, and focus my will and energy, is no defense against the darkness I sense coming my way. I'm talking about my beautiful mothers body suffering. I'm talking about the knowledge that one day I will not be able to call or see her anymore. I can't process that rationally and I have no defense against that realization.

Being physically surrounded with loving family and friends is a defense. But it offers no rational defense. How is my emotion and my intellect so intertwined? How can I hear medical descriptions so easily with my head and possible decisions with such a straight face and feel nothing? How can I describe what's happening with such ease and ask for prayer and at the same time know that the future offers no defense against the darkness of such personal loss? My good friend said a week ago as we walked along the Chicago Lakeshore that there really is no defense for death. No rationalization. No ease. You know its coming and that's all.

The clinical descriptions of the physical toll offer no defense. You can know what stage you're in or not but the pain is still there. How can I have all the faith I need, how can God be all I need and yet my body doesn't know that?

My wife just told me how much she loves my mind. We attended the same college but not the same way. The same classes but not the same way. Even studied together but did not process the learning the same way. When she hurts emotionally she actually gets physically ill. I tend to compartmentalize it and feel very little and a hellofalot at different times. Never just when its helpful at the moment.

I want to be alone but I do not. I want to hurt but I do not. I pray and I feel but I do not know with my mind whether any of it works right. My faith is not in what I feel or see. It just is.

2/10/2007

keep praying

Thanks for your prayers. Mom got home around 1:30am this morning. The tests revealed that the cancer is on the move throughout her internal organs, heart, liver, and kidneys. She will return Monday for more tests. They gave her meds for the stomach pain and at this point she can remain home. This is difficult for us all emotionally. Mom was quite hopeful for healing and now feels resignation again. The waiting and fear are quite hard to deal with. Mom and dad may still be able to keep their Bed and Breakfast date next week. Pray for that. Thanks for caring and being present with us with your prayers through this difficult time.

2/09/2007

please pray

I'd like to send out a general plea for prayer for my mom. Months ago I wrote about her battle with cancer. She and my dad are now in the Emergency Room and doctors are running a battery of tests for the next four hours.I just got off the phone with my dad. He says that the doctors seemed very concerned.

There's a good chance the cancer has spread to her stomach and elsewhere. Please pray for dad right now. When someone you love is in this kind of pain it is a peculiar kind of misery. You wish you yourself could somehow be the one to hurt instead. Dad was planning this beautiful getaway over her birthday next Thursday at a Bed and Breakfast and he's worried they won't be able to do that now.

Thanks for your prayers.
remind me that i'm the same guy i was yesterday. walk with me and just
be who you are.

2/07/2007

Blogging Bethge Chapter 10

Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography, Chapter Ten

“Finkenwalde: 1936-1937” pgs. 493-586

Other Works consulted:

The Way to Freedom: Letters, Lectures and Notes, 1935-1939, Edited by Edwin Robertson, Cleveland: Collins-World, 1977.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Life in Pictures, the Centenary Edition, Fortress, 2006.

Daring, Trusting Spirit: Bonhoeffer’s Friend Eberhard Bethge by John W. de Gruchy, Fortress, 2006.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Life in Pictures, the Centenary Edition, edited by Renate Bethge and Christian Gremmels is a “must-have” when going through Bethge. It offers a pictorial chronology of every person, event, and writing pertinent to the time. By way of example, pg. 100-101 offers photos of Bethge lecturing at the Behrenhoff estate in 1936 and the cover of the issue of Evangelische Theologie where Bonhoeffer’s article “On the Question of Church Membership” appeared. With such a complex chapter as this one, I think you’d do well at times to peruse the wider angle lens that this book offers.

The first paragraph of Bethge’s chapter ten is a reflection on the seminary’s role in the three stages of the German church struggle. Just where Finkenwalde ends abruptly its’ significance is interwoven with the life of the church. Bonhoeffer is left without a building, its occupants are conscripted or imprisoned, but his mission remains unchanged: be a Christian and serve the church! Chapter ten concentrates more heavily than nine on the changes within the Confessing church that weakened it to outside pressure. In the end, the closure of the seminary took place very quickly and unexpectedly. In my reading I felt so belabored by the weight of changes within the church as a whole, that when the expected arrests, searches, and imprisonments finally took place the outcome was a severe drop in the momentum. The action continued for as long as possible, and then it stopped.

Bonhoeffer and the Finkenwaldians were so dedicated to their task, so firm in their resolve, that their faith seems to overwhelm the outcome itself. Yes they are physically removed from their work, very similar to nonviolent resistance itself. And why can’t it be seen that way? Their work itself was a form of resistance without arms against the State. They worked the democratic process at the very point at which that process was denied. Later in the chapter, after the arrests and closures have begun, we find a very unique act of civil disobedience. Bethge writes:

“No attempt was made to prevent Bonhoeffer’s return to Finkenwalde on 5 July. He sent a delegation from the seminary to Dahlem, where an important service of intercession was planned for 8 August. This developed into an open street demonstration because the police had cordoned off the church. The protest march by the excluded congregation was one of the very few instances of spontaneous “revolt” against National Socialism during the thirties. That evening, after vain attempts to disperse the crowd, the police made a large number of arrests. About 250 of the demonstrators, including some ordinands from Finkenwalde, were taken in trucks to the prison in Alexanderplatz where they were temporarily detained.” (580)

A “still life” scene stands out to me from this chapter. On July 1, 1937, Bethge and Bonhoeffer entered Martin Niemoller’s parsonage only to find that he’d just been taken away by the Gestapo. Upon their arrival they found themselves, together with Franz Hildebrandt and Eugen Rose, under house arrest. Bethge wrote:

“Thus they became involuntary witnesses to a seven-hour search in which every corner of Niemoller’s study was painstakingly examined; it eventually led to the discovery, behind a picture, of a safe containing thirty thousand marks that belonged to the Pastors’ Emergency League. Everyone was astounded at the meticulous tidiness of Niemoller’s desk, which contained neatly written verbatim copies of his sermons; it was something no one had expected of the spirited man.”

That little touch of humanity jumps out of the text at me. With darkness all around, in the face of tremendous fear, these pastors all noticed the unexpected tidiness of their friend’s desk. In my work through chapter ten (and remember with my reading its not just this chapter its all the other texts I can get as well) I couldn’t feel content with just the facts as they were. I must find the touchstone, the connection between my own place in the twenty first century and this time I’m reading about, such as things like music making, vacations, illness, or the weight of travel.

I have found in John deGruchy biography of Eberhard Bethge a third angle to the events Bethge writes about in chapter ten. In Daring, Trusting Spirit (pgs. 28-43) I learned of the significance of the vacation where Dietrich and Eberhard learned of Finkenwalde’s closure. From this new outside look we can see the community formed between these two men that carried them beyond their seminary’s physical closure and provided a linchpin for their continued work. Bonhoeffer needed someone worthy of trust who could keep him grounded and focused. The bond between these men began at Finkenwalde, deepened in the Collective Pastorates, and then continued through the conspiracy and imprisonment.

“The fifth session at Finkenwalde ended on 11 September 1937. The two friends spent the next two months at Marienburger Allee 43 with Bonhoeffer’s parents and took a holiday together during October in southern Germany. This pattern of vacationing together at the conclusion of the Finkenwalde sessions was now firmly established, and it would continue for the next few years in the new context for the seminary, the “collective pastorates” in Koslin and Gross-Schlonwitz.”

With key insights from the as-yet untranslated letters between Bonhoeffer, Bethge, and others, deGruchy brings out this special bond between the two men that Bethge himself doesn’t seem to relate in his biography of Bonhoeffer. Bethge is himself the important missing key to understand how easily it seems Bonhoeffer moved from Finkenwalde to the collectives.

The book we know as Life Together began as lectures given during the height of Finkenwalde’s influence, and became a working manuscript after the seminary was closed. What sort of godly hope fills this work, which began with a distinct audience of German students whose end was the German front line and imprisonment! It is pretty clear that without the tragic end of Finkenwalde and yet the strong belief in the little books contents to form new community again we wouldn’t have this book at all. Before reading this chapter of Bethge I had a certain impression of Life Together as a rather na├»ve attempt at community that lacked any trial by fire. How wrong could I be?!! The whole book was tried by fire. The adherents held on to its principles in the face of great fear and loss. The practices laid out in this book stayed with its writer and editor, long after Finkenwalde closed. As a gift to the Church, Life Together has managed to speak to the Church across time and culture in ways that never could have been imagined.