The Plot to Kill Hitler: Chapters 5–9

This biography chronicles the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a clergyman who resisted Adolf Hitler's regime.

Here are links to our lists for the book: Prologue–Chapter 4, Chapters 5–9, Chapters 10–12, Chapters 13–22, Chapter 23–Epilogue
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. encrust
    cover or coat with some material
    The altar was dripping with lace, the ceilings were encrusted with gold, and guards in garish orange-and-blue-striped costumes stood sentry in the corners.
  2. garish
    tastelessly showy
    The altar was dripping with lace, the ceilings were encrusted with gold, and guards in garish orange-and-blue-striped costumes stood sentry in the corners.
  3. sentry
    a person employed to keep watch or stand guard
    The altar was dripping with lace, the ceilings were encrusted with gold, and guards in garish orange-and-blue-striped costumes stood sentry in the corners.
  4. appalled
    struck with dread, shock, or dismay
    Bonhoeffer, accustomed to the simple wooden churches of Germany, was appalled.
  5. opulence
    wealth as evidenced by sumptuous living
    And Bonhoeffer was a member of the Lutheran Church—the first church to break away from Rome, in part because of the kind of opulence on display at St. Peter’s.
  6. throng
    a large gathering of people
    He saw a throng of seminarians, monks, and priests of every skin color imaginable.
  7. provincial
    lacking sophistication or worldliness
    Suddenly, his own church, which was almost synonymous with being German, seemed small, provincial, and narrow-minded.
  8. clergy
    the entire class of religious officials
    And it would be a belief that would propel him, years later, when Hitler was on the march, to turn to members of the clergy all across Europe and beg for help.
  9. lilting
    characterized by a buoyant rhythm
    The Bonhoeffers’ large, gracious Berlin home was adorned in garlands as men in evening attire and ladies in ball gowns floated across the parlor floor to the lilting strains of a Schubert waltz.
  10. solitary
    preferring to be alone
    As he looked on at the wedding celebration, Dietrich Bonhoeffer again found himself alone. Sabine had been his best friend. Now she had a new mate, while he was preparing for the solitary life of a scholar.
  11. conscience
    motivation deriving from ethical or moral principles
    But it was through Sabine’s marriage to Gert that Bonhoeffer would eventually face a crisis of conscience that would upend that quiet, uneventful life.
  12. progressive
    favoring or promoting modern or innovative ideas
    No one in the Bonhoeffer family had ever married a Jew, but many of their friends in the progressive university neighborhood where they lived were Jews.
  13. academia
    the world of higher learning
    And many of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer’s friends were Jews who held top positions in academia, commerce, and the arts.
  14. commerce
    transactions supplying goods and services
    And many of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer’s friends were Jews who held top positions in academia, commerce, and the arts.
  15. dissertation
    a treatise advancing a point of view resulting from research
    He was just twenty, but he was writing his dissertation at the same time as he took his regular course load—a demanding course of study for anyone, let alone someone so young.
  16. naive
    lacking information or instruction
    He wrote every day after going for a swim, working on a thesis that was both unconventional and, in the view of some of his teachers, naïve.
  17. enamored
    marked by foolish or unreasoning fondness
    His Lutheran professors worried that he was too enamored of the Catholic Church and demanded that he defend this strange idea.
  18. transcend
    go beyond the scope or limits of
    His dissertation, “Sanctorum Communio (Communion of Saints),” was a 380-page paper in which Bonhoeffer insisted that the church wasn’t a historical institution; it was a living community that could transcend national, ethnic, class, and even religious boundaries.
  19. parish
    a local church community
    And since he was still too young to have his own parish, he’d taken a job as an assistant minister at a church for Germans living in Barcelona.
  20. lofty
    of high moral or intellectual value
    And the few times he was allowed to preach, his lofty sermons flew over the heads of the congregants.
  21. sermon
    an address of a religious nature
    And the few times he was allowed to preach, his lofty sermons flew over the heads of the congregants.
  22. ramshackle
    in poor or broken-down condition
    He lived in a ramshackle boardinghouse, alone in this foreign, friendless city.
  23. pristine
    completely free from dirt or contamination
    He had found his calling—and would find he always preferred the rough and tumble of working with underprivileged children to the pristine halls of academia.
  24. musing
    a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
    Eventually, Bonhoeffer adopted the local customs, writing in cafés and having dinner at ten p.m. He continued his philosophical musings and wrote further about his idea of the “living church.”
  25. squabble
    a quarrel about petty points
    There were endless squabbles in Parliament, and many Germans wanted to return to a monarchy.
  26. malaise
    a feeling of mild sickness or depression
    And they yearned for a strong, decisive leader who could lift them out of this national malaise.
  27. languid
    lacking spirit or liveliness
    And classes at Berlin University, where Bonhoeffer had enrolled in post-graduate studies, were dull. Worse than that, they started early in the morning. It was a tough transition from the languid life he’d enjoyed in Barcelona.
  28. theology
    the rational and systematic study of religion
    The one bright spot was a witty theology student named Franz Hildebrandt.
  29. doldrums
    a state of inactivity
    Now that they were reunited, they griped about lectures that made them yawn and the doldrums of Berlin in winter.
  30. inscribe
    address, in a style less formal than a dedication
    After one debate where Bonhoeffer triumphed, Hildebrandt gave him a book he inscribed “to (my) ancient foe.”
  31. divine
    emanating from God
    Bonhoeffer wrote about the proof of God’s existence in the birth of a baby as a “whisper ‘between eternity and eternity,’” and as evidence of a divine hand in “the power of what ‘future things’ will bring.”
  32. cerebral
    involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct
    In his dissertation entitled “Act and Being,” Bonhoeffer was critical of religious thinkers who believed that constant thought and reflection was a way to be closer to God; that sort of cerebral approach was what killed faith, he said.
  33. unorthodox
    breaking with tradition or typical norms
    Again, his professors disagreed with Bonhoeffer’s unorthodox thinking, but they had to agree: his writing was brilliant.
  34. seminary
    a school for training ministers or priests or rabbis
    And so when he received an invitation to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, he took it.
  35. upstart
    of someone who has suddenly risen economically or socially
    The first-class minds in science and philosophy were in Europe, they said, not in that upstart country across the Atlantic.
Created on July 7, 2020 (updated July 22, 2020)

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