Faith and Reason Essay, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eberhard Bethge


Shortly before Christmas 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer sat at the desk in his cell at Berlin's Tegel Prison to pen letters to the loved ones he left behind when the Gestapo arrested him on charges of conspiracy against the Fuhrer. Bonhoeffer recently passed the eight-month mark since his arrest, and he had given up hope of being released to his family in time for the holiday. "There's probably nothing for it but to write you a Christmas letter now to meet all eventualities," he opened a note to his parents, explaining that he had accepted the fate of not spending Christmas at home. To console his aging parents, the thirty-seven-year-old pastor insisted, despite the sad conditions: "Above all, you mustn't think that I'm going to let myself be depressed by this lonely Christmas," and he assured them that the many years of "such perfectly lovely Christmases" at home had given him memories "strong enough to put a darker one into the background." He wished them a happy holiday, encouraged them to comfort his young fiancee, and wrote of the blessings he anticipated from God by observing the festival of Christ's birth.