Bonhoeffer was fascinated by how his fellow prisoners could come so close to death in an air raid and then forget about it as soon as the danger was past. While allied bombs rocked the prison cells, non believing men would cry out to God for salvation; but as soon as the bombers had passed and the dust settled, the prisoners went back to playing cards and passing time, forgetting all about their supplications to God.
"Something that repeatedly puzzles me as well as other people is how quickly we forget about impressions of a nights bombing. Even a few minutes after the all clear, almost everything that we had been thinking about seems to vanish into thin air. With Luther a flash of lightning was enough to change the course of his life for years to come. Where is this 'memory' today? Is not the loss of this 'moral memory' responsible for the ruin of all obligations, of love, marriage, friendship, and loyalty? Nothing sticks fast, nothing holds firm; everything is here today gone tomorrow. But the good things of life - truth, justice and beauty - all great accomplishments need time, constancy, and 'memory', or they degenerate. The man who feel neither responsibility towards the past nor the desire to shape the future is the one who 'forgets', and i don't know how one can really get such a person and bring him to his senses. Every word, even if it impresses him for the moment, goes in one ear and out the other. What is to be done about him? It is a great problem of Christian ministry."
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