A Costly Grace

by Diane Alden

The NewsMax Years #30
Still ON TARGET: August 12,  2000

Since the selection of Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., as running mate for Al Gore, it has become acceptable in the mainstream press to talk about religion, and even the “G” word may be mentioned without a TV pundit or talking head having a rhetorical heart attack while on the air.

In fact, many pundits and newsreaders are nearly wetting themselves over the newly formed ‘dream team’ of Gore-Lieberman. Unusual, considering the beating Christian conservatives get whenever they discuss their beliefs or how those beliefs impact their lives and politics.

George W. Bush took a pummeling from the crews at CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN and the major newspapers when he said his favorite philosopher was Jesus Christ.

The two-faced position of the elite press seems apparent to everyone with half a brain. They no longer care that their lopsided spin on the news is obvious. There is no longer even an attempt to pretend that they are fair and balanced. The mainstream press has let it all hang out in their hypocritical one-sided leftist glory in support of everyone and everything with a leftist agenda.

Attacks and attitudes toward Christians and Jews on the right has become a matter of how far over the line the press thinks it can go. The questions the leftist press asks of those unfortunate right-wing souls who place themselves in harm’s way might as well be, “Well, now, Congressman Far-Right Extremist, since all of you folks are racist, homophobic, sexist bigots, and religious nuts to boot, putting that aside for now, Congressman, when did you finally stop beating your wife?”

In his acceptance speech as Al Gore’s running mate, Joe Lieberman, one of the most left-wing Senators on the Hill, invoked the name of the Almighty six times. At the moment he and Al Gore are on the stump sounding like Jim and Tammy Baker in their heyday. But they will not pay the price in the press for bringing up the un-P.C. name of God.

It goes without saying that anyone on the right would suffer considerable calumny and slander for doing the same. Nonetheless, Mr. Far-Left Gore and only slightly less Far-Left Lieberman invoke God’s name over and over again and keep a straight face.

It is mind boggling, considering their personal histories of squishy feel-good moral relativism. The flip-flop duo are reminiscent of affairs in Germany in the ’30s and ’40s, when many who called themselves Christian or religious came to dishonor the heart and soul of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

But then, we live in “strange disposed times.” Bear in mind that our entire system as a constitutional republic is based on the notion of the Divine. Among the Founders, most likely there were agnostics and atheists. They put aside their beliefs, however, and recognized that in establishing a new system of governance they would need legitimacy and an acceptable basis for breaking with the old system.

This would require more than the reasons and reasoning of men. A rationale for disobedience to a legitimate authority would require something greater and appealing to a higher authority than man alone.

Whatever their religious or non-religious persuasion, the Founders joined in common cause to uphold the concepts in a document known as the Declaration of Independence, which is the philosophical underpinning of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the rule of law: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Notwithstanding, these days even the Declaration is suspect in some quarters as a racist-sexist document written by racist-sexist men. Still and all, it was the acceptance of this document by the Founders that offers the reasons why men are free – because it is their “unalienable” right, endowed not by men but by God.

It wasn’t but 70 years ago that the rise of statism in Europe broke with Western Judeo-Christian tradition. National Socialism, Nazism, managed to crush Christianity in Germany and kill off most of the Jews in Europe. It also murdered 3 million Polish Catholics as well as numbers of Protestant and Catholic clergy. Along with intellectuals, gypsies and homosexuals, as well as Slavs and mental defectives, including children and babies, the Third Reich’s fascism stands second only to communism as the all-time human killing machine.

The entire corps of Hitler’s Nazi elite, including the elite SS and the SA (the working man’s SS), gave up Christianity. They were compelled to give it up in favor of a new German religion born in occultism, Nordic myths with a smattering of Eastern mysticism thrown in for good measure.

The master race did not gain its legitimacy and the right to kill others because of Christianity, but rather by right of being German. The quick acceptance of paganism and myth in Germany replaced Christianity and led to things like the Holocaust, blood flags, and the gatherings at Nuremberg and elsewhere. There were calls for young women to have children out of wedlock in order to build the master race. A kind of decadence took hold that had never been seen before except in the waning days of the Roman Empire.

Guided by a man who considered himself God with the blessings of the state, which was the hand of God, man’s reason for being and acting now revolved around the needs of the state and Hitler. Eventually most Christians and clergy were frightened into silence or they willingly accepted the demonic state of affairs. Thus, the state with Hitler as its leader and god became the religion of millions.

As in all times of great tribulation there arise men and women wherein even the power of the state and every dark force of the human heart will not keep silent.

One such was a Protestant clergyman and professor by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Safe in England when Hitler began his rise to power, the young Professor Bonhoeffer taught theology to German students living in London.

But when Hitler took over and every form of democratic government was overthrown, many of Bonhoeffer’s students were forced to join the army. Either that or they defied Hitler’s demands and moved elsewhere, joined the resistance, or went to prison.

Being a loyal German, Bonhoeffer chose to return to his country. Rather than become part of the power elite, however, he chose to raise his voice and fight against the Nazi statist horror. Bonhoeffer recognized at once that the Nazis’ announced intention to bring about moral and spiritual renewal was a lie, even though most of his colleagues accepted it hook, line and sinker. He was one of the few who were not blind to the growing power of the out-of- control state with an evil madman at its head.

Appalled at the lukewarm church, which felt it their duty to support the state and look the other way while the Nazis tormented Jews and infiltrated the Church, Bonhoeffer joined the Christian resistance movement known as the Confessing Church. He came to believe the only hope for Germany was the removal of Hitler and an end to the state-controlled church.

Through a fortunate set of circumstances, his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi went to work for German military intelligence. Right under the noses of the Nazis, with Bonhoeffer’s help, he was able to travel abroad and succeeded in helping many Jews escape to safety from Germany.

Engaged to a beautiful and well-connected German girl, Bonhoeffer could have skated through the heady days of Hitler’s Third Reich like the rest of the clergy. But rather than give up his principled stand, he conspired to take Hitler down. He said, “Sometimes it is better to do evil than to be evil.”

Eventually he was caught and thrown into Flossenberg prison. In a hearing before the Gestapo he refused to recant and openly admitted that as a Christian he was the implacable enemy of National Socialism and its totalitarianism demands toward the citizen.

Constantly threatened with torture and the arrest of his parents, his sisters and his fiancée, he stood fast. In 1944 his friends made an attempt to set him free and take him to safety. However, he decided to remain in prison so that others would not be placed in danger and so that he could comfort those in prison.

The day before he died he conducted a service for Catholics and Protestants alike, who were all moved by his simple message and his saintlike sincerity.

Only a month before the war ended, at the command of Hitler himself Dietrich Bonhoeffer became a martyr for his faith and for his determination to do the right thing. He was never officially tried for specific crimes; rather, like others who opposed National Socialism and its cruelties, he was sentenced to die by hanging.

Sheathed in the dignity of heroic acceptance, Bonhoeffer went willingly to his death. His God had answered his one consistent prayer, which was to be granted that “costly grace” which those who die doing the right thing are given. Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood that what is right is seldom popular and sometimes not even legitimate in the eyes of the state.

Unlike with some who call themselves devout Christians or Jews today, there was no equivocation, no excuses, no rationalizing for the sake of the state, or power, or acceptance, or political correctness.

Heroes of Costly Grace

While doing the research on Bonhoeffer, I came across the Web site www.holocaust-heroes.com, an absolutely must-see repository of information about people who made a difference. Holocaust Heroes recounts the courageous actions of others besides Bonhoeffer and the legendary Raul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler for their part in saving Jews.

Bonhoeffer was one of the better-known Christian heroes praised on the site. Mordecai Paldiel, research chief for Israel’s Yad Vashem of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, chronicles the stories of other Christian heroes in the world of the Third Reich, such as Father Simon Gally of France, who hid Paldiel when he was a child.

Paldiel maintains that much of the credit for the rescue of most of Italy’s 45,000 Jews is due to the clergy.

“There can be little doubt that the rescue of 85 percent of Italy’s Jews can be safely attributed to the massive support extended to fleeing Jews by the overwhelming majority of the Catholic clergy as well as of persons from all walks of life, even of officials and militiamen within the more intensively Fascist Salo regime.”

Despite the Vatican’s official standoffish behavior toward the Holocaust question, more than 450 Jews were hidden in the vast expanse of the Vatican during the Nazi occupation.

Holocaust historian Susan Zuccotti says, “When the Germans finally retreated from Rome after nine months of occupation, at least 1700 Jews arrested in Rome had been deported. Over 10,000 had survived.”

Similar acts of heroism occurred in nearly every country affected by the war. The clergy, Protestant and Catholic, along with many other good people, sacrificed much in order to save as many Jews as humanly possible.

The Jewish organization that operates the site wonders why no movie, TV, or any mainstream publication has dealt with this topic at any great length.

Yad Vashem, of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, asks why there has been such reluctance to recognize the deeds of these heroes and heroines. Other than Wallenberg and Schindler, most are forgotten or unknown.

Rabbit Harold M. Schulwens, founding chairman of the Foundation to Sustain Righteous Christians, has said: “It is specious to conclude that merely a bare handful risked their lives to help. Many of the millions of Jews who survived the slaughter could not have done so without the care and the protection of non-Jews in every country the Nazis occupied. Regrettably there are no Wiesenthals to search out the rescuers.”

Phillip Friedman, regarded as the father of Holocaust literature, wrote after World War II that “the spirit of martyrology emanating from our literature on the Holocaust prevents a clear-cut view from a historical perspective.” He added, “Our evaluation of the attitude of Christian neighbors to the Jewish tragedy should be one of differentiation and the finest distinction … of the Gentile friends, helpers, and rescuers of Jews during the Nazi era will also be decisively amended thereby.”

Okay, so some heroes are unsung and sometimes even history gets it wrong. What ought to rankle any person of righteous thinking today, regardless of their religious persuasion or no religious persuasion, is how brutishly Christians are painted by the American media and by certain politicians, mostly on the left. Good people are demonized and accused of intolerance and bigotry and hatred.

It is becoming pretty clear that those on the left, in Hollywood, in the press, and among some Christians themselves, are intolerant. They believe that Christians and Jews with an orthodox bent, or with political beliefs to the right, deserve the portrayals as Nazi-like beasts filled with hate and guilty of intolerance and bigotry.

There are many in the press and on the left who are comfortable with the belief that conservative Christians and Jews are somehow un-American. There is the implied notion that they are of the same mind as Hitler and the Third Reich, when in reality it is the left that acts, talks and functions with overwhelming intolerance toward Christians and Jews.

What ought to be of very great concern to any fair American is that it is only “kosher” to mention religion or God when one is a liberal or a leftist. The hoo-hah in regard to Senator Lieberman is one of many cases of this nasty and unfair political and moral stance of the left. Along with this state of affairs in the press, it is now necessary that one must believe in the state as the answer for all things and for all problems.

It is conventional wisdom that one must believe in abortion on demand, or accept that the only arbiter of social justice is the state, otherwise one is surely guilty of great crimes against humanity.

If that is the case, then the state must become all. There will come a time, if it hasn’t already, when the state will be able to pick and choose what is right and what is wrong, and the rule of law and religious liberty will be dead. Therefore, the state can disallow the conscience of some and promote the conscience of others, while doing a disservice to everyone.

The state, political correctness, the press, and government have no business defining conscience, but they continue to do so. The religion of the American state is humanism, for which there is no God.

The mainstream press and the state today involve themselves in the persecution of those with whom they do not agree, namely Judeo-Christian believers. That very state and that very press were granted their legitimacy in a document they now revile, with concepts that they mock and freedoms given by a God they do not believe in.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

While freedom-loving people cling to those words, it would be wise to remember that not all hatred, intolerance, racism, anti-religious bigotry and prejudice wears a funny mustache and has a bad haircut. Not all faces of evil scream racist obscenities and wear uniforms and riding boots.

Sometimes evil is handsome or pretty and has blow-dried hair and wears three-piece suits. Sometimes it speaks and says what people want to hear. It knows the words that attract and creates feelings of acceptance and worth. It promises all and demands nothing but obedience to its malformed substance and its despotic soul.

Unlike his fellow Germans, Bonhoeffer recognized that no matter how happy the German people were with their state and their leader, the things they stood for were wrong. More to the point, they were evil and decadent.

The United States of America has millions of white gravestones with the names of its sons and daughters scattered around the world, indicating the sacrifices of many who fought for the quaint concepts contained in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Then there are the quiet heroes who have sacrificed in one way or another for our various liberties. There are a few who call attention to corruption or the loss of civic virtue. There are also those brave souls who will be called to do the right thing in the future. All these Americans have or will have more than a passing acquaintance with Bonhoeffer’s “costly grace.”

First published at NewsMax.com on August 12, 2000. Copyright © 2000-2001 Diane Alden

The Moral Lib­eral Senior Edi­tor, Diane Alden, was one of NewsMax.com’s most pop­u­lar and out­spo­ken pun­dits ( 1999–2008), and before that, a wonk for The Nevada Pol­icy Insti­tute. A former DJ in Geor­gia, Diane of late has been a weekly guest on the East Coast hit program, The Marc Bernier Show. Diane is loved for her quick sense of humor, cre­ative vocab­u­lary, inde­pen­dence of mind, and her pen­e­trat­ing analy­sis of a wide range of polit­i­cal, eco­nomic, and cul­tural issues.