imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news



CopWatch LA


A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network: africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Epilogue to a Life: Dorothee Soelle

by Fulbert Steffensky Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 at 6:44 AM

Dorothee Soelle combined political activism and mysticism, unconventional thinking and passion for life. This epilogue written by her partner, the theologian and former Benedictine monk Fulbert Steffensky, reveals the feistyness and childlikeness of the liberation theologian.


By Fulbert Steffensky

[This eulogy of Dorothee Soelle by her husband, the theologian Fulbert Steffensky is translated from the German on the Internet. Dorothee Soelle was a liberation theologian with incrediblepassion, independence and activism who wrote “Suffering,” “On Earth as in Heaven,” “Thinking about God” and “The Arms Race Kills Even Without War.”]

[Translator’s introduction: “Why was I born in this culture of gas?” “God did not create the world finished like a thing.” “We must be wounded to be healed.” Dorothee Soelle combined political activism and mysticism, unconventional thinking and passion for life. This epilogue by her partner, the former Benedictine monk and theologian Fulbert Steffensky, reveals the feistiness and childlikeness of this liberation theologian and poetess. Links to free Internet books and articles follow the epilogue.

Christian ethics is resistance and solidarity. We live from those who said No to selfishness, herd instinct and conformism, to economic reductionism and resignation, to the triumph of appearance, short-term advantage, spiritless fundamentalism and consumerism. As Gunter Grass said, we are born in an egg and our life project is to break the shell. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, one act of obedience is more important than a hundred sermons. Faith is a leap across seventy thousand fathoms of water (Soren Kierkegaard) in sacrifice, truthfulness, renunciation, wonder and awe at transcendence. How happy life would be if all mankind took the time to journey to the center of the mind!

Education is the great transformer (John Kenneth Galbraith). Expanding awareness, replacing prejudice with understanding (Hans Georg Gadamer) and a culture of excess with a culture of access should be marks of an enlightened 21st century. Life is full of supernova explosions where stars remain invisible until they find their partner star. The vulgar materialist reduces all life to the material, measurable and quantifiable. The market fundamentalist reduces economics to profit maximization. There is a power in our decisions, our lifestyles and our questioning. The Great Unraveling (Paul Krugman) produces the Great Refusal.]

Can there be an epilogue to Dorothee Soelle’s sayings and words? This woman is hardly dead to me since I spoke, questioned and argued with her. She is dead and she lives. She has grown silent and many hear her voice. Who was she? How did people see her? How a person is seen, what traces are left behind with others and what expectations are awakened in them says something about the person. What did people say about Dorothee Soelle and what was expected of her?

Some say she wrecked the creed and irritated people in their faith. Others say they would not have remained in the church nor had their children baptized without her. Some say they despised the church and the funeral service for her should not have taken place in a Hamburg church. Others say she helped them continue as pastors. Some say she instrumentalized the gospel for political goals. Others distrusted her mysticism and piety as too apolitical. Dorothee Soelle was a contradictory person which was her strength. She could not be completely captured either by the pious or the political, either by the conservatives or by the enlightened. She was different – political to the pious, a church troublemaker to the bishops and a lover of the church to those estranged from the church. Many were irritated. Peter Bichsel wrote: “The sentence that has moved me most deeply in my life is the sentence from Dorothee Soelle: “Being a Christian means the right to be different.” She lived out the right to be different. I often said to her: “What is most beautiful in you is y8our contradictoriness.”

Contradictory persons are thirsty persons. Being nameable and recognizable in their limits is not enough for them. They thirst for more; they claim the right to be and become different. They are never entirely at home. They are difficult types in the Fatherlands in which they live, types without a native country.

Now I will try to describe Dorothee Soelle’s contradictoriness. Her contradictoriness is the mystical simultaneity of inconsistent facts. It is said of Francis of Assisi that he was sad and joyous at once and that to him the bitter was sweet and the sweet was bitter. The divided worlds are overcome and fall into the abyss of God’s unity. Two guards watch over these mystical mixtures. One is the fear of people who are extremely irritated when facts are not kept apart, categorized and separated. The other guards are the churchly and worldly rulers. Rulers can divide what is not connected. The two guards are interested in distinctions. Men should be distinguished from women, masters from servants, the holy from the unholy, the pure from the impure, God from people, Catholics from protestants and Amor from caritas. Faith demolishes borders and casts down barriers. Faith trusts in God and not in the artificial horizons of divided worlds.

Recently I was asked whether there is a point from which one can understand such opposite things as the political engagement and mysticism of Dorothee Soelle. I assume it was her love of God that enabled both piety and political reflection and action to be inseparable to her. In this mystical contemplation, God and the person were not one but were not to be distinguished. She beheld her God chopped up in poor and rich, top and bottom and dominated and ruling. She missed God when she missed the eyesight of the blind and the song of the dumb. For her, living in God meant sharing in the continuing creation. Living in God meant helping God heal his world.

She was a person capable of happiness. “God and Happiness was the theme of her last address. Astonishment and praise were primary words of her theology. In the address two nights before her death, she said: “Amazed is how God saw the world after the 6th day.” Thus God could say: it is good! Music cast her into jubilant amazement, nature and the awakening of spring. A person capable of praise and astonishment is capable of pain and anger where she saw the enemies of life. She was not a person of faint feelings. Her anger and her impatience were the gifts of a cultured heart able to see injustice and long for justice.

She was a political woman because she was an enlightened woman. No church satisfied her that accepted those fallen among robbers but did not speak against the robbers and their rampages. She could not separate the more political term solidarity and see it in competition to charity. “Love does not only think interpersonally but lives in the structural observance of reality.” So she formulated in this book. Both solidarity and charity are endangered. When cultural worlds lose their matter-of-factness, their keywords collapse with them along with the contents they express. The word solidarity became the password through the French Revolution and the history of the worker movement. The word love or charity was the watchword of Christianity. These two words were not only technical titles; they were the key formulae or nutshells of the movements in which they were mainly at home. Whoever used the word solidarity may have used it in connection with “international” according to socialism. But what happens when the cultural homes disappear or fade in which these words were at home? Can programmatic words and pictures wander about abandoned? Don’t they perish with their homes? Isn’t the cause endangered that these word-pictures intended? Humanitarian projects are not only represented by individuals. Great life options like solidarity and love only survive when they are embedded in cultures. Here I formulate a last political and religious anxiety of Dorothee Soelle. In her last address, she said she was fearful that the “addicted ego” seeking itself “does not miss being touched by the God of life.”

On occasion Dorothee Soelle was reproached for political moralism. In a time of dwindling morality, that reproach is honorable. She was criticized for instrumentalizing faith and biblical texts for political goals. In fact she never thought or said a religious sentence she had not felt in its political consequences. There was a center or heart in her faith that was not instrumentalized and was as little utilitarian as the playing of angels in the sight of God. She loved hardly anything more than the “sunder warumbe” of Meister Eckhart. In his mysticism book, she wrote: “What does this `without why’ mean in which we should live and in which life itself lives? It is the absence of all goals, all calculation, all quid pro quo, all something for something else, all rule that makes life into services… The “sunder warumbe” is what underlies all mystical love of God. In her last address two days before her death, she quoted the verse of Meister Eckhart she often cited in the past”

The rose is without shy,

It blossoms because it blossoms

It doesn’t keep an eye on itself

It doesn’t ask whether it is seen.

Dorothee Soelle fought, worked, discussed, demonstrated, meddled and did not keep her mouth shut. Still she did not live to fight and work. She was at home in play and in what did not justify itself through its projects. She played piano to her last day. She sang in the church choir in her last week. She played with her grandchildren. She read and wrote poems. She prayed and attended church. She was at home in the useless tidbits. Her composure in all anger had a foundation she formulated in her last address: “We begin the way to happiness not as seekers but as ones already found.” That is the exquisite formulation of what we call grace.

Free Internet Book: Dorothee Soelle: "Mysticism and Resistance"

Free Internet Book: Eberhard Arnold: "Salt and Light"

"The Dangerous Doctrine of Justification" by Dieter Potzel

"Elijah, Amos and Jeremiah" by Dieter Potzel

"Believing without Seeing" by Margot Kassmann

"Lilies of the Field" by Margot Kassmann

"Only the One who Cries for the Jews may Sing Gregorian" by Franz Segbers

Ellsberg, Robert: “Dorothee Soelle”

Soelle, Dorothee: “Justice is the Foundation of Peace”

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Local News

SAG-AFTRA video game performers on strike O22 11:04PM

Stop Circus Animal Suffering – Protestors Urge Audiences to Shun the Wild Animal Circus O20 3:04PM

KPFK LSB statement on DAPL arrests O19 10:25AM

Transit Dependent Residents Need a Guaranteed Right to Stay O15 11:36PM

My letter to JJJ on JJJ O11 12:33PM

Prop 60, Condom Law O10 12:43PM

KPFK-Pacifica Radio Archives being sold off on ebay? O10 10:31AM

KPFK struggles without re-solutions O07 2:25PM

Problems with Measure M O05 5:24PM

Stop Circus Animal Suffering – Protestors Urge Audiences to Shun the Wild Animal Circus S07 5:57PM

Nuclear Shudown News Aufust 2016 A30 3:46PM

WIKIpedia is not what we readers Thought nor is it even current about Pacifica or KPFK A24 3:10PM

"KPFK has a $500,000 deficit “ !! Can this be true? A19 6:10AM

Nuclear Shutdown News July 2016 A01 1:36PM

A 99-page report "Election fraud" from Election Justice USA A01 4:14AM

INDY's KPFK radio program being eliminated ? too ? J10 4:57PM

Bertolt Brecht Testifies Before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1947) 2 min J02 3:04PM

Pacifica-KPFK Archives, director resignation J18 4:50PM


KPFK radio elections for LSB coming Quick ! J18 1:05PM

KPFK Local Station Board Elections In-Progress J13 11:31AM

Black Lives Matter Activist Jasmine Abdullah Sentenced Three Months in Jail on Attempted Lynching Charge J09 2:08AM

Why are the Park Rangers making it even more difficult for the homeless in Los Angeles? J04 3:11PM

Bernie Sanders in Lincoln Heights M23 8:23PM

Los Angeles Sit-In to Fight Voter Suppression M18 4:28AM

War Within California's 46th CD M13 11:42AM

NPR's David Greene & Alison Aubrey along with David Ludwig Shill For Factory Farm Eggs M13 7:55AM

2016 AT&T Shareholders engaged by Communications Workers of America D9 Activists M12 11:43PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Art About Privilege Censored on Facebook O23 3:16AM

Paraphysique de la folie O23 2:21AM

Vote if you want to serve on a jury. O22 2:37PM

Washington moves to silence WikiLeaks O22 2:12AM

The class struggle of th Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson O22 2:09AM

What is behind the anti-Russia campaign in the US? O22 1:51AM

The Supposed "Omnipotence" of Politicians O21 10:52AM


Philippines: Duterte’s first 100 days O21 4:01AM

Fbi/police community is a threat to our people O20 11:24PM

The Shortwave Report 10/21/16 Listen Globally! O20 5:01PM

Film/TV Composer Megan Cavallari to Receive the FAHF Humanitarian Award O20 2:18PM

NYC Councilwoman sponsors ground-breaking bill prohibiting wild and exotic animal displays O19 10:22AM

Paraphysique de l'aidance O19 2:57AM

Hallmarks of f b i O18 9:43PM

Sylvia Opens October 21 at Odyssey Theatre; Tanna Frederick Stars O18 11:13AM


What the Narcissists Have Done to Our Jobs and Health O18 4:48AM

Fbi as human monster O18 1:16AM

Fbi as human monster O17 11:50PM

Barbouzerie collusive O16 4:37AM

Pyongyang Retaliates for Killing of South Korean O15 8:38PM

Trump, Crooked Hillery (CH) and fbi/cia mass murderers & assassins O15 4:50PM

Ethics and the Profit System: Global Change of Values Necessary O15 1:14PM


News from geral O14 10:16PM


DARIO O14 1:18AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy