January 28, 2023

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and bin Laden

The death toll of the suicide bombing in Pakistan is now at 89, and the Pakistan parliament has passed a resolution condemning the raid. Many Christian groups in the West have also criticized the celebration of bin Laden’s death, if not the military operation itself. Bin Laden’s death and the different reactions around the world to it underscore the moral ambiguity of war, and assassination.

The best-selling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas echoes much of what is being debated about bin Laden. When is assassination morally justified? The publisher Thomas Nelson has a very good YouTube video about Metaxas’s book which won Christian book of the year. The Christian Post has a good story on Eric Metaxas, and what motivated him to write about Bonhoeffer, and a previous book on Wilberforce. Kathryn Jean Lopez has a “Bonhoeffer Yes We Can” column in the National Review.

Here’s an interview with a 9/11 widow about the death of bin Laden and the cheering of his demise. She says Jesus isn’t cheering bin Laden’s death, nor can she cheer the death of a man who is going to burn in hell for what he has done. My own feeling is that bin Laden got exactly what he deserved, and needed. The victory tour by politicians needs to wrap up since it wasn’t that long ago that they were trying to prosecute some Navy SEAL commandos in Iraq for punching a terrorist in the nose. Bin Laden’s death is like putting an animal with rabies to sleep.

An Archbishop mocks the premier religious think tank in England for their condemnation of the bin Laden “murder.”

There’s also Philip Kennicott’s 2003 Washington Post essay  “Thou Shalt Kill” on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the parable of the theologian who decided Hitler had to die:

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German cleric and theologian, considered the Hitler question not in the abstract, but in the most real and direct way. As a quiet member of a well-heeled resistance cell that plotted to kill the Nazi dictator, he grappled with the moral and theological implications of using violence to stop violence. ”

News stories have an insatiable supply of violence, acts of terrorism, murder, torture, and death. In the words of John Donne, “Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men” decide “thou shalt die.”

John Donne, Divine Sonnet X

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

British actress Emma Thompson on John Donne…

“Now is the time for kindness”



In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Beauty will Save the World” Nobel lecture on literature, he writes:

“Dostoyevsky once let drop the enigmatic phrase: ‘Beauty will save the world.’ What does this mean? For a long time it used to seem to me that this was a mere phrase. Just how could such a thing be possible? When had it ever happened in the bloodthirsty course of history that beauty had saved anyone from anything? Beauty had provided embellishment certainly, given uplift—but whom had it ever saved?”

It will save us, he says.



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