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Stars of Courage: Dietrich Bonhoeffer





Despite its ultimate failure, the rise of National Socialism in Germany caused great damage. It killed 6 million Jews and reportedly 30 million plus in the Soviet Union, along with a great deal of Germans, Poles, Americans and others who became embroiled in the conflict with fascism.

Like the petty authoritarianism that engulfed Latin America in the 1970s and 80s, the totalitarianism of WW2 era Europe reached a lethal point with established religion, the institutions that stood in the way of groups like the Nazis having total influence and control.

The widely quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer played a similar role to Oscar Romero in the story of Nazism. Bonhoeffer was implicated, along with family members, several times in plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer was an explicit critic both of the euthanasia policy (which was rooted in eugenics and had some infamous participants) and genocidal ambitions toward the Jewish population of the German Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis in 1945, just as the regime was collapsing.

There is much to say about Bonhoeffer - he is quoted often and has many fans. One of his American admirers is none other than independent conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, who quotes him often in his books and talk show. What isn't mentioned enough is his time in America and the unexpected way in which his time there informed his intellectual independence and empathy for the maligned, rejected and downtrodden.

While studying in the United States, Bonhoeffer studied at the Union Theological Seminary, an erstwhile institution that has since, much, much later, become home to the like of Dr. Cornel West. Bonhoeffer said that the view of Christ he received while in the United States gave him a view "from below," from the perspective of those who had experienced oppression. He specifically said of his time in the United States, "Here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God...the Black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision."

The "black church" had many of the same elements of identity and alienation that make American racial politics so difficult today but, likewise, it provided the seedlings of what later became the successful movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When reading of Bonhoeffer spoke of his experience with the black church, I couldn't help but think of Oscar Romero walking through the slums in El Salvador, noting that he saw Christ in the poorest amongst us. Bonhoeffer said similar things and suffered a similar fate to Romero, ultimately to be venerated and remembered in history.

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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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