The “Voices from Below”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is well known for his resistance to Nazism and subsequent martyrdom. Less is known about the influence on his thinking by a small community of disabled people called Bethel. Bonhoeffer spent significant time among these castaways as German society moved toward creating a “super race” by eliminating those with perceived genetic defects rending them as “life not worth living.”

The people who were considered “defective” because of their physical, psychological, and intellectual disabilities helped to shape Bonhoeffer’s basic principle for understanding reality.

In a world that worships at the altar of the hyper-cognitive and physically dominant, we would do well to hear Bonhoeffer’s call to learn “from below.”

“It remains an experience of incomparable value that we have once learned to see the great events of world history form below, form the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed and reviled, in short for the perspective of the suffering. . . .That we come to see matters great and small, happiness and misfortune, strength and weakness with new eyes: that our sense for greatness, humanness, justice, and mercy has grown clearer, freer, more incorruptible; that we learn, indeed, that personal suffering is a more useful key, a more fruitful principle than personal happiness for explaining the meaning of the world in contemplation and action.”

Until we hear the voices “from below,” from “the least of these,” we will not hear the voice of God!

After all, God’s eternal Word became flesh in a helpless baby born of an unwed peasant teenager, who became an immigrant fleeing politically motivated violence, lived in obscurity for thirty years,  and was executed as a convicted criminal.

Perhaps we would do well to turn off the television, get off Facebook, silence talk radio for a while; and visit a homeless shelter, holding center for migrant families, the local jail or prison, nursing home, Alzheimer’s facility, hospital emergency room, or attend an AA meeting.

Yes, God’s voice may come “from above” but most often it comes “from below,” from the vulnerable, the powerless, the silenced!


2 thoughts on “The “Voices from Below”

  1. Wow! You said a mouthful this morning. I agree we need to be doing instead of talking. It’s one thing to have faith and quite another thing to put faith into action. Thanks for the reminder to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I work with the other end of Alzheimer’s…dyslexia….as dyslexia was discovered through the research on brains of individuals with dementia in France. This was a good read for me today as I labor in the field of healing the brain of dyslexic neuronal activity…It is my calling through The Order of St. Luke the Physician. I have long been affiliated with the healing ministry beginning with Dr. Tom Carruth of Asbury Seminary. Our Lord has blessed me in His Work of healing. Our dyslexic daughter is now struggling with Parkinson’s. I need to do the research to see if Parkinson’s a part of the same syndrome.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s