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L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona , primo piano e spazio al chiuso
Marginal Mennonite Society

Happy birthday, Dorothee Soelle (Sept. 30, 1929 – April 27, 2003)! #Feminist. #Pacifist. Liberation theologian. Anti-war activist. Professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary. Author of “Theology for Skeptics” (1995) and “Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian” (1999), among many other works. Born in Cologne, Germany. Died in Goppingen, Germany. Cremated.

August 12, 2016 by

Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl (1921-1943),
Photograph by Werner Scholl

What can one person do in response to world suffering? For me, the images of people crying next to memorials for the latest tragedy are the most painful. So many people bereft – and even if I could give each of them a hug and tell them I’m praying for them, it wouldn’t bring back the person they love.

As I wondered what to do, I came across the story of a young woman who choose to sacrifice her life rather than passively accept the suffering in her world, a world very similar to mine, with charismatic politicians gaining public support with the rhetoric of hate and fear; a world rocked by violence and unrest.

Her name was Sophie Scholl, and as a university student in Germany during World War II, she joined a group called “The White Rose” that distributed leaflets condemning Hitler’s brutality. That was how she fought against the suffering – with the written word. For this she was captured, imprisoned, and killed, at age twenty-two, along with her brother Hans and other students.

Sophie Scholl and other members of The White Rose
Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Alexander Schmorell – members of The White Rose

I connect with Sophie every day as I work in the Plough Publishing House, copyediting her collected correspondence. This is what shakes me: as I sit at my computer I see her at her manual typewriter. As her story unfolds in front of me, I see the transformation of troubled thought into heroic action. And I see that such a transformation can only occur in a mind that stays awake, and never allows itself to be conformed to what is popular. At age nineteen, she wrote:

Although I don’t know much about politics and have no ambition to do so, I do have some idea of right and wrong, because that has nothing to do with politics and nationality. And I could weep at how mean people are, in high-level politics as well, and how they betray their fellow creatures, perhaps for the sake of personal advantage. Isn’t it enough to make a person lose heart sometimes?. . . But all that matters fundamentally is whether we come through, whether we manage to hold our own among the majority, whose sole concern is self-interest – those who approve of any means to their own ends.

Yes, Sophie Scholl certainly managed to hold her own among the majority. She accomplished this primarily with her intellect, the gift God gave her. God makes some people soldiers, and some people humanitarian aid workers, and others writers and thinkers. Sophie Scholl did not end the war – the White Rose was ultimately just a minor speed bump in Hitler’s path of destructive hate – but she sacrificed her whole heart and life without reservation. While reading her personal letters I came to the conclusion that every human being has the capacity to be a martyr. We may not all be called to that as Sophie Scholl was – I don’t think I am, at least not right now – but if we pray and seek long enough we can discern the tools or gifts, strengths or weaknesses, that we have been given. Then it remains our choice whether or not we use them to do God’s work.

This message is dedicated to Dietrich Bonhoeffer:


“We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind
not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be
freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind
obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it,
freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong,
Obedience performs blindly
but Freedom is wide awake
Freedom wants to know why,
Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive
obedient man respects God’s commands
and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands.
Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Happy birthday, Emilia Fogelklou (July 20, 1878 – Sept. 26, 1972)! ‪#‎Quaker‬. ‪#‎Feminist‬. ‪#‎Pacifist‬. Theologian. Peace activist. Teacher of the history of religion. She joined the Society of Friends in 1932, becoming one of the first Quakers in Sweden. Early member of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF). Author of a controversial book on James Nayler (published in Swedish in 1929), as well as a book on the Swedish saint Birgitta (published 1919), among many other works. Born in Simrishamn, Sweden. Died in Uppsala, Sweden.
~The Marginal Mennonite Society Heroes Series.

foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.

On this date in 1300 (July 18th), Gerard Segarelli was burned at the stake in ‪#‎Parma‬, Italy. He was the founder of a group known as the Apostolic Brethren. As a young man, Gerard had tried to join the Franciscan monastery in Parma but was turned away, apparently for being a little strange. In 1260, when he was about 20 years old, he sold his possessions and passed out the proceeds in Parma’s market square. He grew out his hair and beard and began wearing only a white tunic, with no shoes. He wandered the streets calling people to repent, for the kingdom of Heaven was at hand. He advocated complete poverty and simplicity, as a reaction to the wealth and worldliness of the established churches. Eventually he gathered some followers, at which point he hit the road and started preaching in other cities. In 1286 Gerard was banned from his hometown of Parma, but went there anyway in 1294. He was arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death.
~The Marginal Mennonite Society Martyrs Series.

foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.
foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.
Marginal Mennonite Society

Happy birthday, Bart de Ligt (July 17, 1883 – Sept. 3, 1938)! ‪#‎Pacifist‬. ‪#‎Humanist‬. ‪#‎Socialist‬ turned ‪#‎Anarchist‬. Dutch Reformed minister. Advocate for the rights of conscientious objectors. In 1910 he was appointed pastor of the Reformed Church in Nuenen, Netherlands. In 1914 he joined other pastors to write “The Guilt of the Churches,” charging that the Christian establishment was complicit in the events that produced World War I. In 1918 he left the pastorate because his universalist world-view made it difficult for him to consider himself specifically a Christian. In 1921 he founded the International Anti-Militarism Bureau (IAMB). Author of “The Conquest of Violence: An Essay on War and Revolution” (1938). Born in Schalkwijk, Netherlands. Died in Nantes, France.

The outcome of the EU referendum and the campaigning that led up to it have shown up and sometimes exacerbated divisions within and between our communities.

Arms around shoulders

There is now a great need for bridge-building, for reaching out to one another in love, trusting that below the political differences lie a shared humanity and a wish for flourishing communities.

Inequalities run deep in society and some are exposed by the vote. Quakers in England, Scotland and Wales are committed to working together and with others – including Quakers across Europe – for a peaceful and just world. In the coming year our Quaker Yearly Meeting will focus on building movements with others locally and globally. We refuse to prejudge who is or is not an ally.

Turbulent times can be frightening, but the Spirit is a source of strength for all, guiding us in who we are and what we do. We take heart from the knowledge that with change comes opportunity. We will look for creative ways to find common cause, to listen, to influence and to persuade. As the status quo is shaken we and our neighbours must look to one another for support, wisdom and above all ways of healing divisions.

Happy birthday, Charlotte Despard (June 15, 1844 – Nov. 10, 1939)! ‪#‎Suffragist‬. ‪#‎Pacifist‬. ‪#‎Communist‬. Vegetarian. Novelist. Tax resister. Anti-poverty activist. Anti-conscription activist. Anti-vivisectionist. Advocate of civil disobedience methods. Founder of the Women’s Peace Crusade in England, for the purpose of opposing all war. Friend of Eleanor Marx (Karl’s daughter). In 1909 she met Mahatma Gandhi and was influenced by his philosophy of passive resistance. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Died in Whitehead, near Belfast, Ireland, at the age of 95. Buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland.
~The Marginal Mennonite Society Heroes Series.

foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.
foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.
Marginal Mennonite Society

On this date in 1561 (June 10th), three ‪#‎Hutterites‬ were executed in ‪#‎Innsbruck‬, Austria. Eustachius Kotter, a stone mason, was put to death first, by beheading. Jorg Rack, a Hutterite deacon, was beheaded next. Finally, Hans Mandl, a basket-maker, was tied to a ladder and thrown alive onto a fire with the corpses of his brothers.
~The Marginal Mennonite Society Martyrs Series.

Happy birthday, Myrtle Solomon (June 9, 1921 – April 22, 1987)! ‪#‎Feminist‬. ‪#‎Pacifist‬. From 1965 to 1972, Myrtle was General Secretary of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a British pacifist organization. From 1975 to 1986 she was Chairperson of War Resisters International. Involved in a long-term relationship with fellow pacifist/suffragist Sybil Morrison.
~The Marginal Mennonite Society Heroes Series.

foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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