Bonhoeffer, Chesterton, and a Reason to Get Feisty

The moment two men realize they are brothers, they instantly begin to fight.”~G.K. Chesterton, Utopia of Usurers.

Bonhoeffer was a relentless critic of any way of life that substituted agreeableness for truthfulness.” ~Stanley Hauerwas, Burke Lectureship, University of California.

No good at all can come from acting before the world as though we knew the Truth, but in reality, we do not.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1932 Youth Peace Rally in Czechoslovakia.

Try reading an essay from G.K. Chesterton every morning while eating your toast. You will have plenty to chew on for the rest of the day. Then round up an incredibly deep lecture on Bonhoeffer and the nature of Truth and listen to it over lunch time. Sprinkle in some rousing exchanges in a Bible Study group in the evening and post-rebuttals ad nauseum in Bloggy land. You have the perfect recipe for a Backbone. And it didn’t require 24 hours of marinating or soaking in whey solution. 😉

Let me explain the above quotes. In the essay (the title of which I forgot), Chesterton is arguing that men must love each other first before they can argue. It is not a particular love; it is a love for all Men. This is the motivation behind revolutionaries. They fight to have the best world for themselves and for their brothers.

But why do we fight? Do we fight at all? Do we have anything to fight about? Do we fight ‘”fair”? Or is it just a nagging quibble that ends in, “Well, this is what the Lord has for me to do.” Or, “As long as we keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing, the rest is details.” We do anything to avoid an honest fight. Actually, what I see in most blogging discourses is a personal statement but no real gauntlets thrown at one’s feet.

Truth has no insignificant details, my friends. Bonhoeffer observed how different American students were than their German counterparts during his time at Union Theological Seminary. (No, not just pro-Nationalist vs. Democracy.) he compares the American students’ spirit as to living in a hostel where the spirit of camaraderie and willingness to help each other pervades. “The American desire to maintain community above all else.” Sounds pretty appealing on the surface.

“W hen it comes to saying the Truth or preserving the community, the latter always prevails. Fairness, not Truth, becomes the primary commitment. ” The result is a leveling of the intellectual demands in American education. There is little motivation to be intellectually [or spiritually] ambitious. Why? Bonhoeffer thought this was part of the Protestant foundations in colonial times. Most of our religious ancestors came here to escape turmoil in Europe. Americans wanted to “forgo the final suffering in order to serve God in quietness and peace.” The steeple house was no longer a place where strife and questioning were tolerated. Americans just made new churches and denominations to escape the rigors of Reformation.

With his right to flee, the Christian Fugitive has suspended his right to fight.”

As a consequence, “…preaching becomes a series of edifying examples, a ready recital of [the preacher’s] own religious experience, which are not assigned any positively binding character.” Remember last Sunday’s sermon? Sound familiar?

The relations between churches (and Christians) has not been one of Truth-arguing. This might make a favorable situation for unity amongst the bodies of Christ. Not so. “If the struggle for the Truth does not divide the church, then surely the unity of the church must already exist? Where Truth in creedal doctrine is not the reason for argument, church disintegration is greater than anywhere else.”

Succeeding generations of Americans who were free from creedal strife, found it unnecessary to fight over anything. “The fight over the creeds that their grandfathers knew became for them something unChristian. Any intolerance is in itself, unChristian. Because Christians have no place for the conflict Truthfulness requires, they contribute to the secularization of society. Tolerance becomes indifference and indifference leads to cynicism.”

So here how this lengthy essay pertains to my situation:

At once, I will proclaim my intolerance of Immodesty. Here is the kicker: Christian women SHOULD cover their heads. Point blank, there you have it, all out on the table. I am opening myself to conflict. Thank you for disagreeing. It is so refreshing.

And I am writing a book about it.

“Better this than to go on in this vegetating way.”

References: Burke Lecture, Stanley Hauerwas. 1 hour video. Listen to at least the first 30 minutes.

Chesterton, G.K., Utopia of Usurers. Short essays.


10 Responses to “Bonhoeffer, Chesterton, and a Reason to Get Feisty”

  1. 1 dpcpastor March 13, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Amen! Bonhoeffer is listed the my “Great Lives” page of my blog “An Uncommon Grace” here is the link if you want to check it out:

  2. 2 Geri March 13, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Ohhh…I can’t wait for your book! Will you let me know when I can order it? I agree with you too…I am so excited now to go and look up these essays and articles. Thank you!

  3. 3 hebrewhearth March 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I’m looking forward to your book too. I happen to agree with the headcovering and what I wonder is why so many women just DON’T WANT TO wear it. They claim freedom in Christ, but why, being free, do they desire for their heads to be uncovered? Jus’ wondering. . .

    And I also am amazed at how many christians see truth as relative. I don’t claim to always understand the truth, but I do believe that there is true truth.

  4. 4 followingtheancientpaths March 13, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Great post! Of all the things running through my mind that you might be getting at, LOL, headcovering didn’t even occur to me once. LOL

    I agree with you and with hebrewhearth. I have a suspicion as to why so many women are opposed to headcovering and I think it has to do with that worn out old phrase, “Well, He knows my heart”. ugh

    There is so much in your post that I would want to talk about but it will have to wait for another day. 🙂 I did want to say “Good Job” and that I agree with you.

    Blessings ~

  5. 5 Jon March 13, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Forgive me as my writings could never be as eloquent as yours. I commend you in your ability to masterfully use this English language in a way that many of us can only observe in published works. With that being said I would like to make a couple of points that are in contradiction to what this post has conveyed.
    If I gave instructions to a traveler who is coming to my house for the first time I would be very specific about the directions. For instance, if he/she needed to take a left at the intersection then I would say “you should take a left.” This implies that taking a right turn not the proper option. In fact the option of taking a right is just, well, wrong. My analogy is a simple one.
    You seem to be saying if you cover your head (as a female) then you are a true Christian, if you choose not to, than you are not.
    I (as a superficial representation to perhaps millions of people) fail to see the difference between wearing a cloth on your head as a symbol of your belief in Christianity than wearing a garb that states in large print “I love Jesus, and I’m wearing this garb to show the world”
    What if I were to propose, based on biblical observation that I believe all Christian men should wear sandals just as Jesus did? Does this instruction inspire a Christian man to be Christ like, or does it add a dimension to the quest that is a distraction?
    I submit this final comment on the subject. I absolutely love your sentence… The truth has no insignificant details. That’s pretty powerful and so applicable to many aspects of daily life. However the dangers of literal interpretation can lead to some slippery slopes. There is little joy in alienation, but much happiness in fellowship.
    So, I just checked out your blog after many months of assuming you were done. You are doing such a great job and I adore the way you have opened yourself up to all of us out here. You are a true treasure in this circle and to those who know you best.

    Peace, love and unity,

    Jon the Buckeye.

  6. 6 cbrunette March 14, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Jon the Buckeye,

    Thank you for the kind comment! Its good to know your circle has returned to reading the blog. I also treasure your thoughts. They might help keep me from wandering too far off the main path into places I might get lost.

    You do bring up a good point that many might misunderstand. When I say that Christian women should cover their heads, I do not make the next leap is stating that if a woman does not cover her head, she is not a Christian. This will probably take another blog post to explain fully. In short, I was wrote this post to get women to pick a side. I can argue my position and they could argue theirs. The point being, let’s talk about it!

    Healthy debate is healthy debate. It clears the air.

    For my other readers who might wonder ~

    I happily get along with everyone else who does not cover in my daily life, which is everyone else. I’m it. Do I want to be the only one? No, it would be nice to have a gal pal or two in the journey.

    So, those of you who might imagine me a sour faced, “judgmental” woman would be shocked to find a rather pleasant co-worker and friend. All it takes is striking up a conversation with someone who looks different than you. I try to do this often, how about you?


  7. 7 karen March 14, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    look forward to reading the book – esp. as someone who is new to covering.

  8. 8 karen March 14, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Also, although I am very, very, very new to covering this is a short synopsis about why I have started covering for church, prayer etc. (I even find myself covering when I read online stuff about Christ the Bible etc. Not sure why, but I do) as a single woman.
    Here goes. It says it would dishonor my head, here are the options of who my head could be:
    My Dad (maybe)
    My Pastor (doubt it)
    My future husband (probable)
    Christ or even myself.
    I don’t want any of those people to be dishonored by my actions.
    Also, if my hair is my glory then when I pray/worship, I don’t want my glory to be seen instead of Christ’s.
    I know this doesn’t make alot of sense to Bible scholars, but I am not a scholar, I am just a woman who has to follow her conscience (whatsoever is not of faith is sin). Also, I am recovering from a migraine, so I may not make much sense anyway;)

  9. 9 moe March 15, 2008 at 12:12 am

    I agree with you Anna, though I’m at peace with those who don’t cover. As an Eastern Christian I know that Arab Christian and Greek Orthodox women do not veil because they don’t want to be mistaken for a muslim, and also as defiance after so many years of domination (Think Turkey and Greece). What a terrible thing to force women to veil or not veil, it’s such an affront on a woman’s dignity and makes it very difficult for her to embrace veiling for the right reasons. I’m still not sure whether or not I’d veil if I were in the Middle East or Greece because it’s such a loaded issue.

    These two links are the best explained reasons for veiling I’ve come upon:


    I don’t crochet and find headcoverings to be a bit pricey, but I would like to cover daily, and I admire your resolve.

  10. 10 karen March 17, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    For anyone who is interested in covering but are cheap and can’t sew (like me), the dollar store sometimes has scarves (~1×5), and dollar general has I don’t know what to call it. a Head Wrap, I guess. One layer looks crochet and the bottom is net with sequins. It’s elastic where it goes under the hair. (doesn’t hang down and is transparent) Personally, I don’t care for the sequins, but it works for me and it was 1.50. I actually keep a white one in my Bible case (in case I forget). I have also been able to find snoods at dollar stores. And solid, paisley, tie-died, and all sorts of bandannas (sometimes 22 in) are available in craft stores for 1 – 1.50 (AC Moore).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

March 2008
« Feb   Apr »


Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.


"I can't say I don't believe in your God, but I don't believe He meant the world to be as it is." ~Nicholas Higgins. North and South.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." No idea where that last quote came from, but I like it!

Current Reads

Father Arseny

Blog Stats

  • 420,076 hits

%d bloggers like this: