Going Overboard…take 2

Ok, it’s becoming obvious that when I decide to do something, I have a tendency to go a little overboard and apparently this is spilling over into my reading…and in this case, my listening.

Since I decided to add one theology or history book to my reading each month I thought I’d ‘kill two birds with one stone’ by listening to a biography (history) of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (theologian) on Audible this month. Now, when I downloaded this particular book I did not know that it would be a biography along the lines of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, (if you’ve read, or tried to read it, you know what I mean). Eric Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer is 22.5 hrs. of listening time. Needless to say, it took the entire month of February, and a little of March, to get through this one. But, I am happy to report that this one is well worth the time.

Somehow, I made it all the way through two master’s degrees, one in history with a concentration on religion, and one in theology with an emphasis on history, without actually reading any Bonhoeffer and not knowing much about the man or theologian. I attribute this gaping hole in my education to the fact that both degrees came from an Augustinian Catholic University (and for those of you who are not familiar with Bonhoeffer, he was a Protestant theologian and pastor in Germany during WWII) but it still feels like I missed out on learning about an important person and 20th century theologian. I think it’s safe to say that Bonhoeffer epitomized the ‘intellectual pastor’ and all of the insight these two (intellectual and pastor) perspectives can bring to a damaged, war-torn world. While he was actively engaged in theological/philosophical discourse with the great thinkers of his time he also was a sincere and sympathetic pastor to his congregations and fellow inmates during his incarceration. I can tell you from experience as a pastor’s daughter (my whole life) and as a member of an academic theology dept. at a university for the past 5 yrs. that these two perspectives are difficult to find in one individual. Most intellectuals that I have met are absolutely brilliant but have no idea how to be present for a person in an hour of need while many pastors don’t know what theologians would consider the ‘basics’ of Christian theology but when your loved-one is dying that pastor’s presence and support is invaluable. Bonhoeffer was able to combine these two perspectives which made him unique and confident in all he did from preaching the Gospel of Peace on Sunday morning to actively participating in a plot to murder Adolf Hitler.

I have to admit that I really was not sold on listening to books at first and I still listen to a book every so often that I really should have read rather than listened to…oh well, we live and learn. But I would definitely recommend you try listening to books when you’re driving, out walking, exercising, etc. I find myself looking forward to those commutes, walks, and workout sessions because I know I get to listen to a story that I’m completely caught up in.

Read on or should I say ‘listen on,’ my friends!