Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

A Really Large Book About a Larger-Than-Life Man
By Lauren Yarger
OK, I admit it. When it came to Eric Metaxas' best selling biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was a real wimp. I definitely wanted to read the story of this amazing man, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the "confessing church," who ultimately was executed for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. I just couldn't get past the 600-plus-page volume called "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
I'm not opposed to reading. In fact I love it, and I probably do a lot more of it than most folks, but with my schedule, finding time to carve out a reading session that would allow me to finish the book in one or two sittings was next to impossible and the sheer weight of the book didn't make it an easy selection for throwing into my bag for commuting on the train.

So I did my best and made three or four attempts over a year and a half before I realized that I likely would never be able to sit and read the volume all the way through. Metaxas is exhaustive in his research and while this is a good thing when reporting a full picture of a life, it is slow-going for anyone with an attention span trained these days more for the instant nature of the Internet and news flashes told in 140-character Twitter posts.

I respect Metaxas as a Christian and a writer. He hosts the popular Socrates in the City discussion series in New York and recently took over writing the BreakPoint series when Chuck Colson died. He has written a slew of children's books, has penned several great books for people with questions about Christianity or Jesus and wrote the companion book for the popular movie Amazing Grace about the life of William Wilberforce who was instrumental in the movement to abolish slavery in England. So  really wanted to read Bonhoeffer . . .
I finally discovered that the book had been released as an audio book and that turned out to be the solution I needed since I spend so much time commuting in my car. Finally, I was able to enjoy the story of this amazing man. He was a prominent theologian and the "confessing church" refers to his leadership in opposing the German government's efforts to control the church. He spoke in opposition to Nazi treatment of the Jews and he and others joining him helped Jews in hiding and were sent to concentration camps and prisons.

Bonhoeffer is an amazing example of faith in action, standing for what is right and sacrificing ones life for God's purposes. His story most certainly is relevant in current times.

I focus here on my own wimpiness in being able to read the hardcover, because I know I'm not alone. I have heard from countless of you who have confessed the same reluctance and intimidation because of the size of the volume. So I take this time, some two year after it was published, to encourage you to read it also. It's now available in lighter paperback and Kindle versions as well as the CD audio book which was a Godsend for me. It's well worth reading.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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