On Confronting Elements of American Spiritual Heritage

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote personal journal

To my generation, and those who follow; and to my fellow Americans whose spiritual heritage—while notable and grand—is fallible: may we resist the urge to flee when things get hard, to quit when there’s opposition, to seek ease in the presence of pain, to give up when we meet resistance, and—whether in our daily work or our spiritual progression—fail to continue.

I find Bonhoeffer’s words especially convicting considering he wrote them while in New York, having been given an escape into the United States, only to then chose to return to his homeland and fight for her spiritual and political liberty, at the cost of his own life.

May we be the ones who stay.

ch:

  • Yes! Very refreshing to hear your take on this, Christopher. There is an ill-advised tendency in our land–blessed as it is–to assume “because we–or our ancestors–did something in the service of religious freedom, it must, therefore, have been right.” Bonhoeffer’s sojourn ended on the gallows at Flossenburg because he believed standing up in the face and presence of an insane, ideological tyranny was more important than life or a freedom he could’ve easily enjoined had he stayed here. It is terribly convicting and inspiring all the same. Dang. Now I’ve gotta by Metaxas’s book. My curiosity is piqued. Thanks for this, brother.

    • @Christian: Encouraged and equally inspired by your own words. Thanks, my friend. Chris Mooney had some good things to say on a text thread today about this subject.

      You’re one of the people I think about when working my way through this book; needless to say, you simply *must* acquire this work. It’s a tome, and will be a valuable addition to your library for decades to come. By far the most complete and exhaustive biography on the man to date (at least to my knowledge).

  • Nathan

    The part of the quote I love/hate (it cuts deep and hurts good) “they did not stand fast”. I wonder if the founding fathers found a resolve in their opposition to England by looking to the history of their land at the time. The Puritans, Quakers and the like had sought freedom from tyranny by founding a new colony. What they achieved was freedom accompanied with the Sword of Damocles. The founding fathers learned from this and made the hard choice to stay (their choice is as much a part of our heritage as the Puritans choice to leave).

    All that being said, let me paraphrase and add to your words; May I be one who stands, and may many brothers and sisters stand with me, but if that is not the case and I stand alone, may I still be one who stands.

    To offer another quote simply because getting Braveheart, Bonheoffer and Cicero in a comment seems like it should be on a bucket list. “Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

    • @Nathan: LOVE THOSE QUOTES! Now you got me fired up.

      I am very much interested to know, with renewed intent, what—exactly—the motives of the Pilgrim/Puritans were. It’s got me thinking a lot about the treatment of the American Indians as well. Since I’m a direct descendant of William Bradford, and also have Cherokee, Cheyenne, and Algonquin blood in me, I’m curious to know what sort of “Christian” left Europe, founded the US, and conquered her territories, and were the evangelistic call to “aly one’s life down for the sake of the Gospel” fit into our early fathers’ goals.

  • Matt Harris

    I have walked through several difficult things in this past year. Most notably, and embarrassingly simple enough, has been staying encouraged while running a businesses in a world that seems to be getting more anti business by the day. However, this has revealed several profound things to me, first, my love for Jesus must not be the main factor of my life, but the only driving factor of my life. Love for Him eclipses my love for this land, but does not allow me to retreat like a coward as well. If I am propelled by my love for Him, I have the purest love to fight for this land. And yes there is a fight on. But the struggle and fight will also refine me into defining where our true passions lie and who we look to for supply. 🙂 don’t run, fight

    • Christopher Hopper

      “Love for Him eclipses my love for this land, but does not allow me to retreat like a coward as well.”

      Brother, those are some powerful, powerful words. I’m deeply moved by your comment here. Thank you for sharing.

      I’ve very often heard it said (and said it myself) that leadership of any sort is a lonely business. And it’s true. In fact, only those who truly get you and understand you are, themselves, leaders who are, themselves, busy with their own leadership.

      I’m praying for you, Matt. You’re an incredibly man, father, husband, artisan and Christian. Keep running the race.

    • Gabe

      “My love for Jesus must not be the main factor of my life, but the only driving factor of my life.”

      Dude…. You just blew my mind. Thank you.

      • Christopher Hopper

        Matt is the man. And one amazing artisan: http://harrismetalsmith.com/

        • Thanks Christopher 🙂 no you the man 🙂

          • Christopher Hopper

            No, no, no — YOU da man.

      • Awesome Gabe, I’m glad it encouraged you. Iron sharpens Iron 🙂