Reflections on first leg of the trip…
In a few minutes I’ll go to class and complete the studies in Genesis with students here, and then board the train for Augsburg, where I’ll spend the evening with friends before filming tomorrow at Dachau and sites in Munich. Tomorrow night it’s on to Salzburg for supper with a friend and then Schladming, where I’ll be teaching I Corinthians next week.
The week here has been good with many students from Canada, a few from America, and the rest from places in Europe, Africa, and one student from Egypt. I wish you could be with me for all these conversations, which range from the persecution of Christians in Egypt by Muslims, to the struggles of pastoring in rural Kenya, where drought and water problems have stretched the capacities of all the people, to the differences in health care systems and taxation between Germany and America. I spoke with a German student who shared her grandfather’s recollections of fighting in WWII, and a story of how God spared his life during a bombing, reminding me that their were people of faith on both sides. Last night I had supper with a friend and the whole time I was wishing I’d brought the video recorder with me. We spoke of Hitler’s addiction to Theosophy, why Germany was vulnerable, and the profound effect Bonhoeffer had on Germany after his death. We also spoke of the American addiction to success and the dangers of that, as he sees it encroaching on the church in Germany.
This travel, and these kinds of discussions are priceless to me for many reasons. First, they remind of the gospel’s malleability. It looks different in Germany, than Kenya, than Amsterdam, than Egypt, than France, than America, and that’s OK. Second, I’m reminded of the danger we all face, of imposing our style of Christianity, with all our strengths and weaknesses, on other cultures. It’s important to share the central themes: devotion to Christ, the nature of his work, our calling to allow His life to be born in us and expressed through us – and then let these themes take shape in various cultures.
I worry, though, that our American church is becoming fragmented along some very unhealthy lines, agreeing with some commentors on previous posts that some core doctrines are at risk of compromise by the emergent church. At the same time, I’m concerned that the more conservative branches of our faith true are holding on the centrality of Christ and adding a bit of Americana to that, as if being pro-free market, and pro-war is somehow inherently Christian. This is, in my opinion, not only nonsense…. it’s dangerous.
Tomorrow I’ll shoot some footage from Dachau, and in Munich, where a resistance movement to Hitler challenged Germany’s apathy. I think there are lessons to be learned there… or at least some musings. I won’t post, probably, until Sunday, because I’ll be travelling.
Cheers… In Christ