Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world"

"The older Karl Barth used to say that 'to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world'."

     Jan Milič Lochman, "Towards an ecumenical account of hope," The ecumenical review 31, no. 1 (January 1979): 18 (13-30) = Mid-stream 18, no. 1 (January 1979): 30 (24-34).  Cf. Jan Milič Lochman, "The Lord's Prayer in our time: praying and drumming," The Princeton Seminary bulletin n.s. 13 (1992) Suppl.: 18-19 (5-19), and in The Lord's Prayer: perspectives for reclaiming Christian prayer, ed. Daniel L. Migliore (Eerdmans, 1993), 18-19 ():
"There is another saying of Karl Barth in my grateful memory.  In his later years we heard from him again and again:  'To fold one’s hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.'"
And then again in 2002, Jan Milič Lochman, "Theology and cultural contexts," in Theology between east and west:  a radical heritage:  essays in honor of Jan Milič Lochman (Eugene, OR:  Cascade Books, 2002), 15 (5-20):
"I often recall words I heard Karl Barth speak when I was his student:  'Hands folded in prayer are the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.''"
Lochman, who appears to be the primary source of this, began teaching in Basel the year Barth died, and undoubtedly knew and interacted with him before that, as the reference to his having been a student makes clear.  Still, I would feel better could this be found in Barth himself.  Ashley Cocksworth quotes this at the top of p. 114 of her book Karl Barth on prayer, T&T Clark studies in systematic theology 26 (Bloomsbury, 2015), but then says in footnote 144, "Regrettably, I have yet to find the source of this oft-cited remark."  To me it would be odd if Lochman and other students of Barth "heard [(did any other late students of Barth hear?) this] from him again and again", and yet it never made it into any of Barth's published work.  And so far I have searched the DKBL in vain, in both English and German.  German versions of this vary, by the way:

"Hände falten im Gebet ist der Anfang des Aufstandes gegen die Unordnung der Welt!"

"Barth erklärt dies so:  'Mit dem Falten unserer Hände zum Gebet beginnt unser Aufstand gegen das Unrecht in dieser Welt.'"

Etc.


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