Synopses & Reviews
How should one respond, personally or theologically, to genocide committed on one's behalf? After the Allied bombing of Darmstadt, Germany, in 1944, some Lutheran young women perceived their city's destruction as an expression of God's wrath-a punishment for Hitler's murder of six million Jews, purportedly on behalf of the German people.
George Faithful tells the story of a number of these young women, who formed the Ecumenical Sisterhood of Mary in 1947 in order to embrace lives of radical repentance for the sins of the German people against God and against the Jews. Under Mother Basilea Schlink, the sisters embraced an ideology of collective national guilt. According to Schlink, a handful of true Christians were called to lead their nation in repentance, interceding and making spiritual sacrifices as priests on its behalf and saving it from looming destruction. Schlink explained that these ideas were rooted in her reading of the Hebrew Bible; in fact, Faithful discovers, they also bore the influence of German nationalism. Schlink's vision resulted in penitential practices that dominated the life of her community.
While the women of the sisterhood were subject to each other, they elevated themselves and their spiritual authority above that of any male leaders. They offered female and gender-neutral paradigms of self-sacrifice as normative for all Christians. Mothering the Fatherland shows how the sisters overturned German Protestant norms for gender roles, communal life, and nationalism in their pursuit of redemption.
"A significant study of an unconventional group of women. In 1947, in war-torn Germany, these Protestants took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to do penance for Christian anti-Judaism and lived in strict monastic discipline to atone for German guilt for the Holocaust. Faithful's sympathetic analysis of Basilea Schlink's vision and community provides a startling counterpoint to prevailing narratives of post-war Germany's inability to mourn, repent, or admit the Holocaust." ---Katharina von Kellenbach, author of The Mark of Cain: Guilt and Denial in the Lives of Nazi Perpetrators
"Telling the fascinating story of a German Protestant sisterhood who engaged in acts of repentance in Israel, George Faithful masterfully explores the group's mixture of German national theology and faith in the special historical mission of the Jews. This is a welcome book that sheds light on little known corners of German theology and Christian-Jewish relations. I highly recommend it." ---Yaakov Ariel, Professor of Religious Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Mothering the Fatherland presents a carefully documented look into a small but significant movement within German popular Christianity. In the process, George Faithful has offered a clear set of data for re-theorizing the field of Christian Zionism studies. This work is essential for understanding dynamics within twentieth-century theopolitical history both in Germany and in the Holy Land." --Robert O. Smith, author of More Desired than Our Owne Salvation: The Roots of Christian Zionism
About the Author
studied at Wake Forest University, the Université de Nantes, and the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin before receiving his Ph.D. in historical theology from Saint Louis University.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Caution to the Reader
Frequently Used German Words
PART I: PROTESTANT GUILT
Chapter 1: Guilt in Klara Schlink's Thought, 1920-1947
Chapter 2: Public Confessions of German National Guilt, 1945-1947
Chapter 3: Mother Basilea Schlink's Theology of Guilt
PART II: THEY, THE PEOPLES
Chapter 4: The German Volk
Chapter 5: Schlink's Pseudo-Judaic, Germanic Vision of Nationhood
PART III: REPENTING FOR OTHERS
Chapter 6: Defining Repentance in Schlink's Theology
Chapter 7: Schlink and the Sisters' Repentance as a Priestly and Monastic Service
Chapter 8: The Place of Gender in Schlink and the Sisters' Repentance
Chapter 9: The Creation of Sacred Space in Schlink and the Sisters' Repentance
Appendix 1: The Barmen Declaration
Appendix 2: The Stuttgart Confession
Appendix 3: The Darmstadt Statement
Archival and Unpublished Primary Sources
Published Primary Sources