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Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

A few months ago I posted a few selections from the baptismal letter Bonhoeffer wrote to his great-nephew.  Those selections dealt mainly with reflections on how life in the country would change in the future.  The letter also included some significant theological thoughts, a few selections of which will be posted now. The prior posts included the following brief introduction:

May, 1944 to Eberhard Bethge on the baptism of Dietrich W.R. Bethge

Eberhard Bethge had married Bonhoeffer’s niece Renate, and their first child was born while the father was stationed in Italy and the great-uncle was in prison. Dietrich was deeply moved that Eberhard and Renate had chosen to name the boy after his great-uncle, who had greatly wished and hoped to be released and be able to baptize the child. The two men exchanged a few letters on the topic; Bonhoeffer did not wish the event to be delayed on his account. This letter is addressed to the infant Bethge.

This selection introduces the concept of Verantwortung, a very important theme in Bonhoeffer’s Ethics.

Wir haben zu stark in Gedanken gelebt und gemeint, es sei möglich, jede Tat vorher durch das Bedenken der Möglichkeiten so zu sichern, daß sie dann ganz von selbst geschieht.  Etwas zu spät haben wir gelernt, daß nicht der Gedanke, sondern die Verantwortungsbereitschaft der Ursprung der Tat sei. . . .

Hauptwörter

das Bedenken (infinitive as noun) consideration, weighing
die Bereitschaft preparedness, readiness, disposition
der Gedanke thought, idea
die Möglichkeit possibility, alternative
die Tat deed, action
die Verantwortung responsibility
die Verantwortungsbereitschaft readiness for responsibility (being prepared to act responsibly or accept responsibility)
der Ursprung origin

Zeitwörter

geschehen happen
leben, gelebt live
lernern, gelernt learn
meinen, gemeint think
sichern secure, ensure, safeguard

Andere Wörter

jeder/e/es every
vorher before
möglich possible
nicht . . . sondern not . . . but
stark strong/ly

Grammatik

sei subjunctive of sein in indirect discourse.  Translate ‘is’ or ‘was’ as appropriate according to context.  “. . . we thought it was possible . . . we learned that . . . readiness for responsibility is

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MORGENGEBET
(WEIHNACHTEN, 1943)

 

Vor Dir denke ich an all die Meinen,
an die Mitgefangenen und alle, die
in diesem Hause ihren schweren Dienst tun.
Herr, erbarme Dich!
Schenke mir die Freiheit wieder,
und laß mich derzeit so leben,
wie ich es vor [dir] und vor den Menschen
verantworten kann.
Herr, was dieser Tag auch bringt—
Dein Name sei gelobt!

Amen.

der Dienst service
die Freiheit freedom
all die Meinen all my [loved ones]
der Mitgefangene fellow prisoner

bringen bring
denken think
erbarmen sich have mercy, be merciful
sei gelobt be praised
leben live
schenken give; Freiheit schenken set free, grant freedom
tun do
verantworten accept responsibility for

derzeit in the present, today
ihr their
schwer hard
vor Dir
before you
wieder again

 

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Quote of the WeekKant
Was ist Aufklärung?

Aufklärung ist der Ausweg des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit. Sapere aude! Habe Mut, Dich Deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen! ist also der Wahlspruch der Aufklärung. (Kant, 1784)

die Aufklärung enlightenment
der Ausweg way out, escape
der Mut courage
die Unmündigkeit age before majority, lack of coming of age, immaturity
mündig (adj) mature, responsible of age
der Verstand reason, mind, intellect
der Wahlspruch motto, watchword

bedienen serve, attend to
Sapere aude (Latin) dare to be wise!
selbstverschulden to be one’s own fault (ptc. as adj. “one’s own fault, self-imposed”)

also therefore
aus out of, from
eigen one’s own

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