David Burchett David Burchett's weblog
- 2006 Feb 01
When I used to visit my family in Kentucky I remember the saying they used when someone thought a little differently.
“That boy ain’t right!”, they would note with a smile and shake of the head.
That is how I feel today after my “ain’t right” brain somehow linked two widely disparate stories. Story number one was found in The Week Magazine and told about a growing number of multimillionaires who are leaving their money to themselves in the hope they will someday be brought back to life. The Wall Street Journal had originally reported that these very future investors are having themselves cryogenically frozen with the hope that medical advances will allow them to be revived. I don’t know about you but I am really not interested in coming back to life on this planet. Woody Allen’s classic line comes to mind when he said, “I refuse to believe in reincarnation because I don’t want to have to sit through Ice Capades again.” According to the story, these assets are frozen (just like the investor…sorry, couldn’t resist) in something called “personal revival trusts” that will be waiting for them when they wake up in a century or two. Predicted first words…”Is it just me or is it really cold in here?”. I can add these people to my “ain’t right” collection. I believe what is written in Hebrews that "everyone has to die once, then face the consequences." (Hebrews 9, The Message)
Story number two that my brain oddly linked was about a man I have always admired. USA Today had a feature about the upcoming events marking the centenary of the February 4th birthday of German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If you are not familiar with the story Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian and pastor in Germany who was deeply opposed to Adolf Hitler from the beginning of his rule. He broadcast against the Nazi movement and joined a Christian resistance movement called the Confessing Church. In 1939 he left Germany to be a teacher at Union Theological Seminary in New York but he left the safe haven of America to return to his home after just a month.
"I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America," he wrote. "I shall have no right to take part in the restoration of Christian life in Germany after the war unless I share the trials of this time with my people."
Writer G.Jeffrey MacDonald writes in USA Today about Bonhoeffer's return.
Bonhoeffer used family connections to gain a post in the military intelligence unit, where he operated as a double agent. There he helped arrange for a bomb to explode at the Führer's headquarters on July 20, 1944. But Hitler was only wounded, and Bonhoeffer, 38 and engaged to be married, was among the dozens arrested. He was hanged April 9, 1945, just days before American troops liberated Flossenbürg.To many, Bonhoeffer's name is synonymous with moral courage and with the importance of thinking deeply about right and wrong. ( http://www.usatoday)
That was the inspiring aspect of Bonhoeffer’s life. His thoughtful anguish over how to deal with evil in this world is more than applicable today. As I struggle with the concept of grace and Christ’s love for all sinners I am challenged by words like these from Bonhoeffer. “How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?" Applying that principle alone would turn the American church upside down. But it was the way that Bonhoeffer faced death that caused me to relate his story to wealthy people who trying desparately to deny the reality of death and judgment. Again quoting from the excellent story written by Mr.MacDonald.
For Bonhoeffer, being authentic meant facing death as destiny. His most famous line highlights the sacrifices required in Christian life: "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." His final act was to celebrate Communion with some fellow prisoners. Witnesses reported his final words. "This is the end for me, the beginning of life."
You see Bonhoeffer knew that truth of Phillipians when Paul wrote to live is Christ, to die is gain. I like the rendering of Paul’s words in The Message.
Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can't lose.
(Note to readers...PBS is broacasting a documentary called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist, Nazi Resister. The scheduled date is Monday, February 6th. Check local listings, tell your friends, and discuss amongst yourselves. Engage the culture!)