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Barth Calls Hitler "A Nothing"

Speaking to a group of German pastors in the 1930s, Karl Barth spoke for over an hour and never once mentioned Hitler. When asked why he had failed to comment on the key current issue, Barth replied that he had the joyful task of proclaiming Jesus Christ, so why would he waste his audience's time with mention of a "nothing"? This was the sort of behavior that Reinhold Niebuhr (with his "realism") despised in Barth. But I ask you: was Barth being unrealistic in his nonchalance or was he working with a different reality? As the poet declares, to allow injustice to jerk us around and command our full attention is "to pray as the devil."

- William H. Willimon, "The Easter Response, “Now can we sing?” in The Christian Century, 2010