One-man play at Cathedral chronicles Nazi-era pastor

Posted on 17 Apr 2008 at 7:30pm

Hope for Peace & Justice Foundation will present "A View from the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer," starring former minister and hospital chaplain Al Staggs on Sunday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of Hope, the production’s co-presenter.

The one-person play presents the life of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was a member of the German Resistance to Hitler and his Nazi Party. Bonhoeffer was involved in plots by the German Military Intelligence Office to assassinate Hitler, but was arrested in March 1943 and hanged on April 9, 1945.

With this play, the audience is brought into the prison cell where Bonhoeffer is awaiting execution and given the chance to his struggles with evil, injustice and God.

Bonhoeffer tells of the profound influence of fellow Union Theological student Frank Fisher, an African-American who introduced Bonhoeffer to the blight of racism in America.

Bonhoeffer expresses moral outrage against the Nazi treatment of Jews and explains how that outrage led him to become involved in the German resistance movement, a commitment that would result in his execution.

Al Staggs holds a B.A. from Hardin-Simmons University, an M.R.E. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Th.M. from Harvard Divinity School and a doctor of ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

After two decades as a parish minister, he discovered that his real passions were performing and working for peace and justice, which he combined by writing and performing "A View from the Underside."

A few years later he left the pastoral ministry and began a career as a full-time performing artist, adding characterizations of Clarence Jordan, Archbishop Oscar Romero and Thomas Merton to his repertoire.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. Staggs will present a selection from the play during the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road on April 20.

The services are free and open to all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 18, 2008.

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