H. Gaylon Barker, PhD, is former president of the International Bonhoeffer Society—English language section—and was one of the editors of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English series published in 2013 by Fortress Press. Author of The Cross of Reality, which investigates Bonhoeffer’s interpretation and use of Luther’s theology in shaping his Christology, Barker is also the adjunct associate professor of theology and religious studies at Molloy College.
When Barker recently presented a course on Bonhoeffer and the Christian Life for the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he decided to incorporate a showing of Come Before Winter to dramatize the historical context for Bonhoeffer’s writings and actions.
He kindly sent an email on November 9, 2017 to share feedback on the film with Gary and Lee Blount:
"It was received very positively. I had spent the morning session setting the context of Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the Resistance as a basis for a discussion of his Ethics. I showed the film before the lunch break, by which time they had had a little background and had discussed Bonhoeffer’s writings; with that background, the film provided a visual depiction of what was taking place and reinforced what had already been discussed. In addition, there were multiple comments (all positive) about how the film helped them better understand the gravity of what was taking place at the time.
"I had seen it in Basel, but after reviewing it in preparation for the class and then watching it along with the group, I have to extend my compliments once again on an incredible production. Weaving Bonhoeffer’s story in with the Black Propaganda (which some reminded me was all the more relevant in our era of “fake news”) story, added to its dramatic appeal... So, again, thanks for your efforts to get it to me, but above all, for the labor of love that you and Gary have produced."
To appreciate the perspective from which Dr. Barker sends these comments, note the description of Dr. Barker's book (The Cross of Reality) by the staff of The Bonhoeffer Center.
"Bonhoeffer’s thought was indeed radical and revolutionary, but it was so precisely because of its adherence to the classical traditions of the church, especially Luther’s theologia crucis. When his theology is understood in light of this tradition, his "nonreligious interpretation," which he set out to describe in his theological letters from Tegel prison, is not a radical departure from his earlier theology, but is the mature expression of his “theology of the cross.” Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran roots would not allow him to turn his back on the problems and tragedies of the world. In fact, because God had turned toward the world, had entered into the world and identified with suffering individuals, the only proper sphere for theological reflection was this world. Theology properly conceived, therefore, is very this-worldly. It is this worldly character that gives it its power to speak."