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Keys to Bonhoeffer's Haus: Exploring the World and Wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

4.66  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In Keys to Bonhoeffer's Haus, Laura M. Fabrycky, an American guide of the Bonhoeffer-Haus in Berlin, takes readers on a tour of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's home, city, and world. She shares the keys she has discovered there--the many sources of Bonhoeffer's identity, his practices of Scripture meditation and prayer, his willingness to cross boundaries and befriend people all aro ...more
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Fortress Press
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Jocelyn Green
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
There is so much to love about this book. Author Laura M. Fabrycky lived in Berlin for three years while her husband worked there with the US Foreign Service. While there, she became a tour guide to Deitrich Bonhoeffer's house. In this book, she shares with us eight main things she learned from her time studying this man's world and choices. It's not a biography. It's part travel memoir, part history, and wholly engaging as she invites us along with her on her discoveries. You won't find any her ...more
Laura Booz
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite. Laura shares the compelling story of her experience as a tour guide at the Bonhoeffer Haus. Laura writes in such a way that puts the ground beneath our feet and virtue before our eyes. She adeptly translates history, philosophy, and political theory to help us understand how Dietrich Bonhoeffer's story dovetails with our own. The very real characters, scenes, and ideas keep me company as I care for my children at home. In Chapter 2, Laura quotes a catalogue from The Bonhoeffer Haus, " ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm still processing parts of this book, and look forward to rereading it when my hard copy arrives in the snail mail, but I'm so incredibly grateful that this book came to me when it did. If the atmosphere surrounding the 2016 elections prompted Laura to carefully consider civic housekeeping, the current COVID-19 pandemic combined with the 2020 elections makes it absolutely critical for us all to evaluate how we take care of one another. Laura's voice is one of thoughtful contemplation, and her ...more
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5/5 - I haven't given a 5 star review in a while. I'll try to write this review spoiler free. Laura Fabrycky writes a compelling and thoughtful narrative on the intersection of place and society. Her approachable writing style was a joy to read and balanced historical fact with memoire and personal reflection. As someone who has been fed up and, of late, disconnected from day to day politics, this book challenged me to look for ways to be more culturally engaged (which is a pretty big deal for m ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good books slip by so quickly. This is one of those. The author's observations on Bonhoeffer's life and legacy, informed by her physical presence in the spaces he lived, will stick with me. ...more
Paola Barrera
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I adored reading this book. It was evident this was a work of love for the author. Laura Fabricky combines academic curiosity with personal reflection in this beautiful and thought-provoking account of her experience living in Berlin and volunteering as a guide at the Bonhoeffer Haus. 

Part memoir, she takes you with her into the alleys and street corners her curiosity takes her to, in her quest to learn more about the German theologian. Part biography, Laura takes you by the hand and walks you t
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful and timely book! “Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus” is not a biography as such (though you do get an overview of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life) but offers a unique blend of story and reflection. During her time in Berlin, the author was a volunteer guide at the house where Bonhoeffer’s parents lived and where he was arrested, causing her to reflect deeply on his life and legacy. She takes us along on her own journey of not just learning, but also of relating some of the principles and ten ...more
Robby Eckard
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When you think of Berlin, there are several things that might come to mind: Nazis, espionage, the Wall of course, and more recently club culture and personal freedom. But if you're in the center of that Venn Diagram of Christian and from America, you're likely to think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well. A slew of books about him that have come out in the last 2 decades have ensured that, and if you lean a certain direction on the political landscape the last 4 years have only cast his shadow longer ...more
Collin Huber
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has become something of a cultural staple these days and with his rise in popularity has come varieties of hagiography. Laura Fabrycky's book is not one of those. Rather, it is a patient and honest look at the life of a man who was just that—a man. But as Fabrycky points out, he was a man who committed himself to a lifetime of small, daily sacrifices that ultimately led him to the ultimate sacrifice of his life. You will not regret reading this book. ...more
Peter Carey
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am enjoying reading this wonderful book on Bonhoeffer; written by a marvelous writer and theologian about a marvelous witness to the Gospel.
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The intersection of the scholarly and the intimate is a rare gift. At first, some readers may think that scholarly works simply cannot be intimate. How can someone be so closely associated with a topic while also writing in a serious, academic way? Laura M. Fabrycky’s work, Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus: Exploring the World and Wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer shows how that can be done related to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. By integrating her personal experiences of leading tours at the Bonhoeffer Haus and i ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I recommend this book to friends – and I’ve recommended it to several – I never know quite how to describe it. It’s about the life and times of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but not really. It’s about the author’s time spent living in Berlin and giving tours at the Bonhoeffer haus, but not really. Ultimately it’s about pondering what it means to live the Christian life well in a world scarred with pain and evil.

And I think “pondering” is exactly the right word. To me, the great value of this book is
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Laura Fabrycky was my tour guide when I visited the Bonhoeffer House in 2017. We shared a common interest in Bonhoeffer. We discussed the Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas. She also recommended a second biography, “Strange Glory,” which I read after I returned home. Aware of her extensive knowledge of Bonhoeffer, I was excited to read in a “Christianity Today” article that she had written a book about her time at the Bonhoeffer house. I got the book on my Kindle and read it immediately.

This i
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't quite sure what to think of the book when I started it, maybe because I've been on enough dreadfully boring house tours in my life to be wary of one in printed form. But I persevered, and am glad I did.

Fabrycky takes us along with her on a double journey of exploration. As the wife of a U.S. diplomat in Germany, she gives us a first-person account of her journey from awkward American to seasoned expatriate--an account rich with descriptions of the sights, smells and tastes of Germany. A
Rebekah Eckard
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was such an wonderful read, both thrilling and insightful. As someone who has read a handful of books on Bonhoeffer over the years, let me tell you that this book is one of a kind (and just possibly my favorite Bonhoeffer book thus far). Fabrycky approaches Bonhoeffer in an incredibly distinct way, that as a human being first and foremost. In doing, she allows us to see his failures as well as his victories (and suggests perhaps, that they go hand in hand). We see him not as some pre-f ...more
Jeffrey Harris
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and thought provoking book

This is not a biography of Bonhoeffer, but instead a journey of discovery for both the author and the reader into the life of a great man’s struggle in a difficult time. The book does not descend into idol worship or attempt to draw anachronistic analogies to our own time. It is a thought provoking exploration of Bonhoeffer’s life that has practical lessons for today. The book is very well written with personal details in a narrative style that keeps the reade
Immanuel Daniel
Escape from the current news of COVID19 and hunker down with this amazing book. The writer shares her own experiences of living the Expat life with language barriers, kids, and her discovery of Bonhoeffer's haus. Throughout the book, she displays the lessons that can be gleaned from the life of Bonhoeffer. The author is incredibly relatable and walks you through this journey in the most entertaining way! While you are practicing social distancing pick up this book, you won't be sorry you did! ...more
Robin Wallin
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really love how Laura Fabrycky weaves what she learned about Dietrich Bonhoeffer into the fabric of her own life and experience. Her reflections have caused me to also reflect on my own privilege and whether I could have the courage to lose everything for a greater good. I am planning to share this book with my book club because I would love to have discussions with others about what they too have gleaned from this great read.
Nancy Shank
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an intimate and thoughtful book that interprets Dietrich Bonhoeffer's legacy to our world today. The American author was a docent at the Bonhoeffer Haus for several years while her husband's career took their family to Berlin. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Her careful analysis and personal anecdotes challenged me to think in new ways about how Bonhoeffer's very human witness calls those of us in the 21st century to deeper faith and community. ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite and generous, "Keys" ushers us into Bonhoeffer's world and nourishes us with his wisdom. I was stirred deeply to live faithfully in such a time as this.

Fabrycky has a gift for capturing moments in all their complexity and beauty. "Keys" moved me to tears and left me resolved to engage civically, here and now.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for so many reasons. Laura's writing is intelligent and engaging yet accessible. It is especially poignant that it would come out during the current COVID19 crisis. It would seem we all have lessons to learn from Herr Bonhoeffer in this moment in particular! I highly recommend this wonderful read. ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Laura Fabrycky has written a book that manages to be both spiritually and intellectually challenging and emotionally honest, one that I'm sure will stay with me for a long time. Weaving together Dietrich Bonhoeffer's story with her own experience acting as a volunteer guide at his house museum during her family's foreign service tour in Berlin, Fabrycky isn't afraid to ask hard questions, or to leave us without easy answers. How are Christians to engage with the communities we live in? What woul ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I struggle to know where to begin with this book, because it was so unusual (in a very good way). It's part memoir, part theology, part history, part travelogue, and a whole lot of wisdom, insight, and engaging writing.

I've often explained my love of history as "communing with the dead". Fabrycky took that line much more seriously than I ever have in her years-long study of Bonhoeffer, her time spent as a guide at Berlin's Bonhoeffer Haus, and in writing affectionately yet critically of him. Sh
Lena S
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly challenging, particularly in light of current world circumstances. The author reintroduces to us the concept of "civic housekeeping", which was not a term I was entirely familiar with. I found it best summed up in one of her later points about not "staying in our lane". She states, "Acknowledging the cost, Bonhoeffer knew we shouldn't stay in our lane if others were suffering in theirs."

Her own story winds through the pages, as she reveals deep truths she discovered as a guide at the Bonh
Esther Cotoarba
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I was so captivated by a book. Rather than romanticizing Bonhoeffer, his life and work, the author invites us to look at our own lives, reexamine the keys to our inner house alongside with Bonhoeffer and the author itself.
I will definitely come back and back to this book, as it will take time to digest everything and I already miss reading it.
Joel Wentz
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting, genre-crossing approach to a book on Bonhoeffer. It's definitely not a biography, though it includes significant biographical elements, and is combined with significant elements of memoir, travel writing, and cultural commentary. I did enjoy it, and Fabrycky's writing style goes down extremely easily, but I would ultimately consider a fine intro or supplement to Bonhoeffer's work.

On the very-positive side, I did appreciate how Fabrycky brought a great amount of nuance
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What a beautiful and encouraging book. I don’t have much knowledge about or experience with Bonhoeffer, but this author has such an engaging way of storytelling that it pulled me right in, making the places and people in her story and in Bonhoeffer’s story feel so alive and present. I was especially surprised to find how very prescient this book is right now - in a time of global pandemic, when we are all thinking about our responsibility to each other, about social fabric and connectedness ...more
Aaron Carlberg
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wanted to give it 3.5 stars, but I will go up to 4 just for her effort of living and learning the German language.

The book is for those who love to sit back and listen to other people's ruminations about events and stories while tying it to their own life. At times it meandered a bit, but it was still endearing.

For me, there are many things I love about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His commitment to Jesus and the ideals that made him stand up to Hitler are nothing short of astounding...but he wasn't
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fabrycky gives an insider's view into the life of a US diplomatic family and Dietrich Bonhoeffer's community. Into the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, this book reminds the reader that we are all the sum of our choices and our community. We live best when we live with others and care for those around us. In Bonhoeffer's Haus we are reminded to build community and to participate in civic housekeeping. Most importantly Fabrycky reminds us we are responsible to live in our own story. We can learn ...more
Catherine McNiel
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating and engaging angle for a book on Bonhoeffer. Rather than yet another biography, the author writes from her own perspective as a student of Bonhoeffer, discovering his identity even as she explores his city and his one-time home. I particularly appreciate the author's commitment to discovering his story on its own terms, rather than finding in him what we want to think of him. There is much here for the reader, in our current time, whatever your context may be. Highly recommend ...more
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Laura M. Fabrycky is a writer, PhD student at ETF Leuven, and poet. She's a spouse to a US Foreign Service officer and a mother of three. With her family, she's lived in Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; Berlin, Germany, and now resides in Belgium.

Her latest book is Keys to Bonhoeffer's Haus: Exploring the World and Wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a historically-grounded memoir about her experience as a

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