Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bonhoeffer Documentary

Amazingly, something from the Episcopal News Service that looks interesting...
Celebrating Bonhoeffer
Documentary airs
February 6, 10 p.m. ET
on PBS
By Jerry Hames

ENS 012606-1[Episcopal News Service] Martin Doblmeier, director of the critically acclaimeddocumentary Bonhoeffer, says the German theologian’s struggle against Nazismleading up to and during World War II speaks to every Christian today whostruggles with how to respond to evil and to understand at a deep level the costof following God.Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the first clear voices to be raised against AdolfHitler and the rise of Nazism, eventually was arrested for his participation inthe resistance and a plot to kill Hitler, imprisoned and at the age of 39executed, just weeks before the war’s end.

“In the world of religion and spirituality, Bonhoeffer is clearly one of themost inspiring writers of the 20th century,” said Doblmeier. “And his life andwork continue to have universal appeal.“Conservative Christians are attracted because Bonhoeffer was so Christ-centeredand Bible-based. The progressive wing of the church is attracted to hiscommitment to social justice. In our language of today, he was a man who notonly ‘talked the talk,’ but walked the walk.”Nazis used religious imageryDoblmeier’s film, which first appeared in theaters across the country in 2004,explores several themes, including how the German church fell in line behindHitler, hoping to regain stature in the new German order. Another shows how theNazis used religious language, symbols and imagery in their rise to power.

One dramatic scene shows Hitler in public prayer, imploring God to bless thecause of the German people. Doblmeier said archival footage with images ofswastika flags flying in churches and pastors giving the Nazis salute wereunforgettable images for him.The film mixes archival footage with interviews with his family, friends, formerstudents and theologians. Bonhoeffer’s words are read by actor Klaus MariaBrandauer (Out of Africa).Archbishop Desmond Tutu recognized Bonhoeffer as a role model for the church ofSouth Africa in its struggle against apartheid. “It’s so easy to be sucked in bythe structures,” said the Nobel Laureate.

“To be sucked in, too, by a false kindof loyalty and ending up with a false church.”Doblmeier sees the film as a story of faith, he said. “The heart of the story isthis young, brilliant theologian trying to understand what is the will of God inthe midst of a world torn apart by anger and hate. Through his own writings andin books and letters (Cost of Discipleship and Letters and Papers from Prison),and through the eye-witness accounts of his family and closest friends, you canfeel Bonhoeffer’s struggle to understand what God is calling him to do.“He seems to be always questioning himself and his constant prayer is that hewill have the inner strength to what do is asked of him.”

For more on Bonhoeffer and for parish and school resources, visit: Jerry Hames is editor of Episcopal Life.

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