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Posted January 25, 2009
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The Anglican Church honors Dietrich Bonhoeffer as one of the major martyrs of the Twentieth century. Born in Germany in 1906, Bonhoeffer came of age as Hitler ascended to power. He finished his doctorate in theology by age 21 and traveled to the U.S. to further his studies. He also spent time in India learning about non-violent resistance from Gandhi. Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1935. There he led a seminary of the Confessing Church, which was openly critical of the Nazi government. In 1936 Bonhoeffer was banned from preaching, teaching, and public speaking. During this time, he worked closely with opponents of Adolf Hitler. In 1943 Bonhoeffer was charged with conspiracy and imprisoned. He was hanged on April 9, 1945. <BR/><BR/>Author Matthieu Arnold holds up Bonhoeffer's life as an example of self-sacrifice, love of God, and commitment to justice. His book, part of the "15 Days" series, is designed for individuals and groups. Each session includes quotations, commentary, and reflection questions.<BR/><BR/>One of Arnold's major themes is Bonhoeffer's belief in the centrality of prayer in Christian life. Session 2, Making Your Whole Life a Prayer, contains the following quotations from Bonhoeffer: "The force of the human being is prayer...to pray is to breathe alongside God...it is through prayer that you will become strong." In a session called Praying Thanks to Jesus, Arnold explains that for Bonhoeffer, the Lord's Prayer is the touchstone of all Christian prayer. We read later that Bonhoeffer cautioned against "the untrustworthy and random language of our hearts" often practiced in spontaneous prayer, preferring "the clear and pure language in which God has spoken to us in Jesus Christ." More than half of the sessions focus directly on prayer, addressing praying in solitude and community, at specific times of day, and with Scripture. Prayers Bonhoeffer wrote while in prison make up the second half of the book.
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Posted October 2, 2013
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