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Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens

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The Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens are a botanical garden located north of Seattle on the premises of the Freeborn Lutheran Church. They are named in honor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and scholar, who was executed in April, 1945, in Nazi Germany’s Flossenburg concentration camp.[1][2]

The garden contains native plants of the Pacific Northwest.[2][1]

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I know many evangelicals support Donald Trump. I personally don’t know any who sees him as the chosen one of God. No doubt, they are out there. Trump is far from Hitler! ~Bryan

Authoritarian Oppression Is Rampant

To The Editor:

I want to write about many expressions of authoritarian oppression which are rampant in our county, our state, and our nation. I don’t have space to address them all, so I’ll start at the top.

I am shocked by the support that many so-called evangelical church leaders espouse for Donald Trump. They need to study church history in Nazi Germany. An excellent resource is “A Church Undone: Documents from the German Christian Faith Movement 1932-1940” by Mary M. Solberg.

In this book, one can read translations from original documents, testimonials such as, “…Adolf Hitler, with his faith in Germany, as the instrument of our God…” and “in the person of the Führer we see the one God has sent…”

From our historical perspective, we can clearly see that the pro-Nazi Protestants in Germany were wrong about Adolf Hitler. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke truth and said “No” to Hitler and his followers, and Bonhoeffer was hung for his resistance.

Today, human beings who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear need to recognize the similarities between those Protestants who supported the Führer Hitler and the Protestants who proclaim that President Trump is God’s chosen one to do God’s will.

For the rest of the letter…

LETTER: Tutu’s anti-Semitic outbursts would have anti-Nazi hero ‘turning in his grave’


FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Desmond Tutu attends the unveiling ceremony for a statue of Nelson Mandela at City Hall in Cape Town, South Africa

With reference to “Tutu foundation honours anti-Nazi hero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer” (Cape Argus, January 23):The article is about the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation honouring the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was a German theologian.

Bonhoeffer was opposed to Hitler and the anti-Semitism of the Nazis. For his beliefs, he died in a concentration camp. Bonhoeffer must be turning in his grave.

How dare Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his Legacy Foundation have the audacity to have anything to do with an Honourable Christian who stood up for the Jews against Hitler?

In an article which appeared on 08/11/11 in Ynet News, an Israeli on-line news forum they stated, “Archbishop Tutu leads vile, racist campaign against Israel and the Jewish people”.

The article went on to state that Tutu convinced the University of Johannesburg to end its relationship with the Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, as part of a boycott against Israeli Academic Institutions resembling the dark times when German Universities banned Jewish intellectuals.

Tutu has also demonized the “Jewish lobby” as “too powerful and scary”.

The list of Tutu’s anti-Semitic outbursts could fill this page.

I have no doubt Dietrich Bonhoeffer…

For the rest of the article…

by Elizabeth Davey

(Photo: Unsplash/MattBotsford)

We are all aware of the rising consumer approach to church. We have even begun to use the phrase ‘church shopping’ when talking about finding a new church, and often make our decision based on whether the worship was good, if we liked the preacher, or even who has the best coffee!

As consumerism increased with the rise of disposable income after the Second World War, and church attendance fell as a result of the increasingly secularist influence in society, many churches felt they had to adapt or else be left behind. Unfortunately, this adaptation has not been exclusively left to the different tastes in coffee or music. In an age where we are offended easily, the gospel message has been tailored to the particular demands of the acceptance-based, tolerance-promoting culture. Grace included.

First up, we have Paul’s free grace – ‘for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’ We like a good bargain and the idea of God’s grace at no price is a pretty good deal.

But we like to have our options, don’t we? Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship is a Christian classic, with his phrase ‘costly grace’ being well known, perhaps primarily due to Bonhoeffer’s own costly witness. With this offer, however, grace is not the free gift we see advertised by Paul, but a more costly endeavor.

For the consumer church, Bonhoeffer’s writing on the cost of grace is unappetizing when the free grace of Romans 3 is on offer. Indeed, because of this many churches feed into the consumer mentality by promoting the free gift that all can receive, almost like when you sign up for a new gym membership and get a free water bottle in return.

The trouble with this is that the gift of grace has been read with the modern context in mind. Any good interpreter of Scripture knows that in order to understand what implications the Bible has today, the original context must first be considered. Whilst today we understand a gift as being free in the sense of pure altruism, that is, without the expectation or demand of a response, this is not what was understood in the first century.

John Barclay in his incredible work Paul and the Gift, shows how the first century Greek society practised gift giving. Whilst a gift could be a result of profound generosity by the giver, the recipient was aware that if they accepted the gift, it was ‘crucial to give a well-measure return.’ Paul would have been well aware of the implication of gift giving in his society.

Nevertheless, the shock factor of God’s gift of grace is that, unlike Greek society where gifts would have been given only if the giver was sure their gift would be equally reciprocated, God gives without regard as to whether or not we will reciprocate, fully aware that we cannot give an equal return. The gift of grace comes through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. What do we have that would even come close to an equal return for this? Paul talks of free gift when he considers the giver, who gives with no prior regard for our ability to respond.

This does not mean that we are exempt from reciprocation, however. Though God gives without calculating whether or not we can respond equally, if we accept the gift we are entering into a relationship with God where we must respond in return. This is where Bonhoeffer’s ‘costly grace’ is put into practice. Jesus talks of the cost of discipleship in Luke 14, instructing his disciples to bear their own crosses (v.27) and to count the cost (v.28). The only response close to what God has given us through His Son, is to give our own lives in return. That’s the cost of the gift of grace.

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Here is another perspective from an evangelical Christian and his support of President Trump. ~ Bryan
By Shane Idleman, CP Guest Contributor
(Photo: Shane Idleman)

Like many, I’m perplexed by the divide in the Christian community over President Trump — but I’m not surprised. The media is fueling lies, and the world is listening. This was demonstrated in a worship song by Daniel Deitrich (talk about the wrong place to express political views). Deitrich’s song was written in response to the 81% of white evangelical Protestant voters who supported Donald Trump in 2016. Here are the lyrics: They started putting kids in cages. Ripping mothers from their babies. And I looked to you to speak on their behalf.

This, of course, is in response to what is “perceived” as happening at the border. I assume that Mr. Deitrich is sincere and his heart truly wants to help people, but we must get our facts from reputable sources or first-hand experience. God willing, I’m touring the border with other California pastors very soon and hope to gain that perspective personally (look for that op-ed in mid-February).

Some say, “How can you follow Jesus and Donald Trump?” We are not following a man, we are shaping a movement. A better question to be asking, though, is “What direction is the country heading?” If a leader lacks Christian character but is pointing the nation back to God, is that a bad thing? If they are minimizing murdering babies and maximizing godly values, is that a bad thing? If they are being a terror to terrorists and making America secure, is that a bad thing? If they are honoring hard work and minimizing free handouts, is that a bad thing? God doesn’t judge a nation based on the character of one man; He judges it based on the spiritual health of her people. Never forget that.

I regularly say that we Christians love refugees and immigrants and are eager to help with food, lodging, and jobs. But at the national level, the president is to put the safety and provision of the American people first. When an airplane loses cabin pressure, parents put on their oxygen masks first to better assist their child. This isn’t selfishness; it’s wisdom. Opening the borders parallels cabin pressure falling and a limited supply of masks. Our law enforcement officers could not sustain the load, nor could our nation. Let’s streamline the process and welcome God-fearing immigrants and have them contribute to society so everyone benefits. The truth is, kids are not being put in cages and ripped from their mothers, as the song accuses.

The majority of news outlets spin everything (yes, everything) to put President Trump in a bad light. Their hatred for him trumps the truth. Their agenda is simple and clear: remove him from office at any cost! And I hope you realize this: they are really coming after you, me, and our  Christian values.

The push toward open borders is more about votes than truly helping people. Open borders would be like me telling my kids to leave their windows open in case a stranger needs a warm night’s sleep. That would be severe parental neglect because many harmful things could also enter through those open windows. Open borders would parallel that type of irresponsibility. Additionally, our financial system cannot support people flooding in who need assistance. How is that using wisdom? It’s not a matter of if this type of financial irresponsibility causes damage but when and how much. Our California representatives in Sacramento need to wake up to this fact—and wake up quickly. There is a better way, but our leaders must repent and seek God for wisdom.

Most critics don’t care what the facts are. Their hatred for the president overshadows their desperate need for humility. Let this sink in: innocent children are being protected, godly counsel is surrounding President Trump, terror is being restrained, good judges are being selected, socialism is being resisted, families are being encouraged via employment (black employment is at an all-time high), prayer is being brought back in schools, God’s wisdom is being sought, and on and on it goes. So again, we are not following a man, we are revitalizing a movement — a movement back to God. I’m more concerned with our nation’s national character than I am with the president’s personal character.

An analogy that I often use will bring this point home. The head of a neighborhood watch program, who took the late-night watches, had previously had an affair. He was occasionally gruff and impulsive, and sometimes his words were crass and offensive, but he watched over the neighborhood diligently each night. Each week he invited church leaders into his home to pray for him and his family and to seek their advice. He often stood against others on the committee who wanted to enact policies harmful to the neighborhood and to the children, such as advocating an open-door policy where residents were required to allow anyone into their homes at all hours of the day for handouts.

Is this not the kind of person you would want leading your neighborhood watch? Does his past or his demeanor matter more than the results he is accomplishing? If you are intellectually honest, the answer is not difficult. In the same way, the answer is simple for America.

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Dustin Messer

If you asked me last year what a post #MeToo half time show at the Super Bowl would look like, a pole-dancing Jennifer Lopez wouldn’t have been my first guess. But perhaps it should have been. You see, today’s sexual libertinism isn’t a bug, it’s a feature of Modernity. As Malcolm Muggeridge put it, “The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment.”

One television show that captures modern culture well is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Even if you haven’t seen the show, stay with me, the show’s plot isn’t hard to summarize: A once married housewife finds freedom on the stage as she travels from one dive bar to another preforming stand-up comedy. She and her husband divorce, but the separation isn’t as tragic as it is transformative: “I am, for the first time in my life,” she says, “taking charge of my destiny, and Joel is taking charge of his.”

Ultimately, her cheating husband is as much a victim as she: both of whom were duped into aping the traditional sexual ethic of the 1950’s. As the 60’s dawn, she and Mr. Maisel find fulfillment outside of the home as they grab destiny by the microphone.

The hero of Mrs. Maisel is the controversial comic Lenny Bruce. His critics, those who see his vulgarity as the fruit of a rotten culture, are the show’s repressed villains. While watching the power his critics wield in the show, it’s easy to forget just how quickly the arguments against the sexual revolution became passé. Writing in 1970, William F. Buckley questions whether or not Bruce’s act could create the stir it did only a few years prior:

“I don’t think Lenny Bruce would be arrested today in New York, the movement having been in the direction of permissiveness in the past four or five years. The question really is: Do we—or do I, I guess—approve of the trend, and I’m not so sure that I do. A society that abandons all of its taboos abandons reverence.”

The irony of where Buckley wrote those words—Playboy—isn’t lost on me. “It’s the fastest way to communicate with my seventeen-year-old son,” he jokingly said of his collaboration with the magazine. His point is right, nonetheless. Taboos reflect not only what is deemed bad in a culture, but what, by way of contrast, is seen as true, good, and beautiful.

This is why I should have guessed pole-dancing wouldn’t go the way of Harvey Weinstein. Expression, sexual or otherwise, is that which our culture prizes above all else. In such a milieu, it is chastity that is now the taboo. As the “Church Curmudgeon” quipped on Twitter, “If they really want to shock and offend people, they should have the Gaithers do the halftime show next year.”

It’s time for the question to be asked – has the script provided to us by the sexual revolution made us happier and healthier? Pop-culture would have us believe so.

While set at a different time, Mrs. Maisel follows the rhythm set by the earlier Amy Sherman-Palladino project, “Gilmore Girls.” The witty Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are living their best lives: each deciding to raise a child alone, albeit with the financial support of show’s up-tightly traditional grandparents. That money goes a long way in allowing Sherman-Palladino to paint an unrealistically quaint ethos for her characters. If Stars Hollow were a trailer park in Tulsa, Gilmore Girls would be a tragedy.

Like Mrs. Maisel, the wealth and glamour surrounding the characters in the show gild the clearly sad plot with a façade of charm. The half-time show did the same thing. J-Lo may have pulled it off with a team of event planners and make-up artists, but I’m betting if you went into a strip club off the highway, the tragedy of a 50-year-old pole-dancer would become quickly evident.

Stanley Hauerwas makes the point that the modern idea of freedom—freedom from constraint, limitation, and nature—is leading to “lives of quiet desperate loneliness.” It’s not that freedom and expression are bad, it’s that they can’t be ultimate. In his wonderful book The Second Mountain, David Brooks makes just this point:

“The perfectly free life is the unattached and unremembered life. Freedom is not an ocean you want to swim in; it is a river you want to cross so that you can plant yourself on the other side.”

For all the talk about how bad the half-time show was—and it was—I haven’t heard much talk about what’s good. And that’s what’s so desperately needed today: a fresh vision of the true, good, and beautiful.

For all the talk about negative freedom—”freedom from”—few people are articulating a compelling positive freedom—”freedom to.” The gospel offers such a positive freedom. It offers us a place to plant our ourselves so that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way (1 Tim. 2:2).

One of the greatest lies told us by the world, the flesh, and the devil is that the life of faith is the life of denial and self-deprivation.

For the rest of the post…

In 2013, Rachel Campos-Duffy, a blogger on the Today Show’s “Moms” site, described watching Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime performance as a “parenting challenge.” The hyper-sensual show’s half-dressed performers had left her kids with quizzical looks on their faces. Her eight-year-old simply said, “She looks weird.”

I wish all of our kids were as confused by seeing something like that, but unfortunately, sexuality packaged as music and performance is an all-too-familiar part of our culture. After Beyonce’s version in 2013, Campos-Duffy snarkily commented, “I half-expected a stripper pole to pop out of the platform…”

Well this past Sunday, that’s exactly what happened. A stripper pole.

Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime performance, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, was by far the raciest halftime since Beyonce. For the last several years, there’s been a notable de-sensualization of not only Super Bowl halftimes but also Super Bowl commercials.

Even Lady Gaga was comparatively modest in her 2017 performance. It’s almost as if the NFL and its network producers got the message from Campos-Duffy and millions of moms who complained about the visual assault on their children and families.

Well, until Sunday, that is, when the Super Bowl became yet another chapter in the ongoing sexualization of American culture, of women, and of kids. In the midst of our culture’s ubiquitous calls to protect kids and women from abuse and harassment, especially in this #MeToo era, we pretend that as long as we call it “art” or “female empowerment,” that this sort of overt sexualization will magically have none of the consequences we now complain about.

From the beginning, the sexual revolution has promised women that aggressively flaunting skin and sexuality was empowerment, and that divorcing sex from marriage and procreation would be a means to freedom. In reality, it was men who got what they wanted: sexual pleasure without the burden of commitment or requirement of chivalry.

For a brief moment a few years ago, it was almost as if that lie had been exposed. More and more women bravely came forward revealing how they’d been treated horrifically as “sexual objects” and such. But if Sunday’s performance is any indication, we have not learned our lesson.

It’s not only women who are victims of these bad ideas. Years ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron appointed a special adviser on the commercialization and sexualization of childhood because, “Our children are growing up in a very sexualized world.”

That was an understatement even then. A far-more accurate description is that this is an out-of-control social experiment, and the guinea pigs are primarily our children. In addition to the predatory, hardcore pornography that haunts their devices and online lives, experimental theories about gender and sexuality haunt their education, and, as we saw Sunday, stripper poles and outfits haunt their so-called “art” and “entertainment.”

Of course, J.Lo and Shakira were a throw-back to a couple decades ago, more for the Xers and Millennials than for the Gen Z’ers. Even so, remember that this performance was on prime-time network television. And check out the lyrics of Billie Ellish or Roddy Ricch, or Lizzo to see if anything has changed.

As my friend Tom Gilson wrote years ago on, ethics require that subjects of social experimentation give informed consent. But in our culture, adults force young people, who have no say in the matter, to go along with their fantasies, theories, and so-called expressions of empowerment and freedom. It’s child abuse.

Just as with Beyonce back in 2013, there will be progressive voices, even so-called Christian ones, that will celebrate Sunday’s performance as “empowering women and Latinas” (particularly the child-in-cages part). But using sexuality for power is a triumph for men, not for women, and certainly not for children—it only leads to their objectification and victimization.

For the rest of the post…

In the age of Trump, the life and works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer are often used to justify the removal of President Donald Trump from office. President Trump (yes, he is my President. So was Barack Obama!) generates both hate for him or love for him. I struggle with some of his tweets and statements. I don’t hate him. To compare him to Hitler is silly. And to compare those who voted for him (I did and will again) to those who mindlessly fell under the curse of Hitler is just as silly. Hitler was a monster who was responsible for over 60 million deaths! Anyway, here is yet another attempt to use Dietrich Bonhoeffer to try to get rid of Trump. Blessings to all! ~ Bryan

Two years ago, Sojourners magazine released our February 2018 cover story, asking the question, “Is This a Bonhoeffer Moment?” This week, the board of directors of the International Bonhoeffer Society — an organization dedicated to research and scholarship on the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer — issued an answer from their discernment.

Here is how the statement, obtained exclusively by Sojourners, begins:

As grateful recipients, and now custodians, of the theological, ethical, and political legacy of the German pastor-theologian and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we believe all persons of faith and conscience should prayerfully consider whether our democracy can endure a second term under the presidency of Donald Trump. We believe it cannot. In 2017, we issued a statement expressing our grave concerns about the rise in hateful rhetoric and violence, the rise in deep divisions and distrust in our country, and the weakening of respectful public discourse ushered in by the election of Donald Trump. We articulated the need for Christians to engage in honest and courageous theological reflection in the face of the threat posed by his leadership. Over the last three years, the need for such discernment has grown more urgent.

The statement starts where any Christian statement in a time like this should — by evaluating a political regime by the standards of the gospel — how their governance affects those on the margins of society. They say:

A hallmark of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s legacy is his insistence that we see the great events of world history from “the view from below” (1942). That is, he urges us to see from the perspective of those who suffer. The policies of the Trump administration both threaten and disempower the most vulnerable members of our society, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ communities, Muslims and other religious minorities, immigrants, refugees, the poor, the marginally employed, and the unemployed. Moreover, Donald Trump has now taken ill-advised military action that raises the specter of war. One of the greatest lessons learned from the history of the Christian churches during Germany’s Third Reich is that it is crucial to respond to threats to human life, integrity, and community when they first appear, and to continue to challenge them.

The signers of this statement are not megachurch pastors, powerful leaders of religious institutions, or influential figures to whom the media typically pays attention. Rather they identify themselves, “As Bonhoeffer scholars, religious leaders, and confessing Christians,” who have “a special responsibility to name crises and discern responsible actions of resistance and healing.”

And this is the significant and sobering conclusion the Bonhoeffer Society leaders have reached:

We believe that one crucial step in this reckoning is ending Donald Trump’s presidency.

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February 2020


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