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Author offers readable biography of anti-Nazi Lutheran theologian


This is the cover of "Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoefferà by Charles Marsh. The book is reviewed by Sister Mona Castelazo, CSJ. (CNS)

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"Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer" by Charles Marsh. Alfred A. Knopf (New York, 2014). 515 pp., $35.

In "Strange Glory," Charles Marsh has written a definitive biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most inspiring Christian minds of the 20th century. Based on extensive current research, the author presents a readable, engaging and well-documented account of the life of this renowned, complex theologian, a Lutheran pastor in Germany who became an anti-Hitler conspirator.

Bonhoeffer came from an elite, wealthy family that fostered creativity in the eight children through the love of music, sport, literature, nature and celebration.

Dietrich broadened his interests further by a year of college study in Rome. Having decided at a young age to be a theologian, his first assignment in ministry was as an assistant pastor in Barcelona, Spain. Although Bonhoeffer inherited "an unobtrusive wealth and an uninhibited taste for pleasure," Marsh points out how deeply he valued spirituality and theology.

While in Barcelona, Bonhoeffer describes the wealthy church youth group he worked with as "a merry band of lazy bones." On the other hand, he considered the "questionable," marginalized people who sought his counsel there to be interesting and authentic.

Travels to Tripoli in North Africa and to America, London, Denmark, Cuba and Sweden later expanded his spiritual awareness.

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