Columba vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What a week! With one more battle to go, we will have set the stage for the Faithful Four as the march to the Golden Halo continues. Today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Columba vie for the final spot as they seek to join Constance, Sojourner Truth, and Julian of Norwich.

To make it to this point, Bonhoeffer defeated Athanasius and Barnabas while Columba got past Kateri Tekakwitha and Meister Eckhart.

Yesterday Julian of Norwich skated past Albert Schweitzer 68% to 32. And in 24 hours, we bid adieu to saintly kitsch. We only encountered a few Kitsch Kranks this year and for that, we're grateful.

The Faithful Four will take place on Monday and Tuesday with the vote for the Golden Halo happening on Spy Wednesday. Onward, Lenten Soldiers!


Of course, the most famous of all St. Columba artifacts would have to be the abbey at Iona, which still exists today. Visitors from all over the world journey to the abbey for retreats and spiritual renewal.  The community at Iona continues to transform the Christian world to this day.

However, one could hardly call such a worthy endeavor mere kitsch, and kitsch is what this round is all about. Therefore, let us now, with one accord, turn our attention towards the less serious items of St. Columba’s lore.

First off, if you are in the mood to pretend you actually are St. Columba, wandering hither and yon through the Scottish countryside, you are in luck. There is a CD which purports to contain the sounds of ancient Celtic Christianity, and also features the most disturbing cover image ever! I direct you to “In Praise of St. Columba: The Sound World of Celtic Christianity.” GAZE UPON THAT MASK AND DESPAIR.

Further, to really establish your identity as the bookish saint, there is this lovely mug, with which you can subtly taunt those who would attempt to countermand your decisions regarding poets or copyright disputes. Wave your hot beverage of choice; you got this.






Now, because copying manuscripts by hand is no longer required in this day of technology, you will surely busy yourself playing that most intelligent of card games: Magic: the Gathering. So you are going to need this Iona card. Because this exists. That’s right--for the enormous overlapping population of those devoted to Celtic monasticism and those devoted to role-playing card games.

But maybe this isn’t enough for you. Maybe, in your slavish kitschish devotion to the Celtic saint, you desire more challenges. Then, might I suggest you undertake as well Columba’s greatest feat? You’re going to need to face the Loch Ness monster.

But not all at once; no. You will need to work in stages. First, order one of these Loch Ness monster soup ladles for your kitchen.

Practice your stirring defenses of our Lord Jesus to it. 

Then, read up on how others have done it. Might I suggest this vintage copy of Dr. Who and the Loch Ness Monster? As Columba teaches, one can never do enough reading.

Finally, you are ready. Take a trip down to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, and ride the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster. As you approach speeds of 60 mph, plunging down towards Nessie’s home in the lake, scream out your best admonitions to godly behavior to the deep.

And then, as you stumble off the coaster, dazed and confused, and avoiding the other creeped-out patrons who are now calling security, you will feel a sense of peace which passes all understanding  For you have completed the Pilgrimage of Columba Kitsch.

— Megan Castellan

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (born in 1906) was a teenager, a new word was coined in German….kitschen, meaning “to throw together a work of art.” This quickly evolved into the English word “kitsch,” a noun meaning “something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.”

Kitsch? Bonhoeffer? How can we even think of putting such a distinguished theologian in the same sentence as this often disdainful word?

But, if you are a fan of Bonhoeffer, hoping, praying, and voting that he will be awarded the coveted Lent Madness Golden Halo, you may launch your very own collection of Bonhoeffer kitsch before this 2016 Lent Madness bracket is completed!

Let’s begin your collection with items you might wear, such as Bonhoeffer-emblazoned shirts & hats:



Or, perhaps Bonhoeffer “cheap grace” pajamas (don’t go there…) are more your style for remembering him in the privacy of your own home:

And, my personal favorite, allows you to start your child or grandchild off on his or her spiritual path with the Bonhoeffer Baby Bib (available with blue, pink or gender-neutral green trim):

(you can’t make this up, folks!)

Of course, since Bonhoeffer was Lutheran and Lutherans are famous for that third sacrament, coffee, your collection must include a coffee mug or two:







These items (and more!) are readily found at online stores CafePress and Zazzle.

But, if you want to get a jump on Dietrich Bonhoeffer with his golden halo already well in place, the good people at gave me permission to share with you that they have a fine array of icons as well as candles, notecards and other gift items for your collection featuring the iconography of Lewis Williams.









Who said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Well, my Google search indicates that there is some dispute about this. Whoever said it, this opportunity for you to enhance your home or office with your very own collection of Bonhoeffer memorabilia, some serious and some not so serious, certainly proves the point!

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography authors Eberhard Bethge & Victoria J. Barnett report that Paul Lehmann, who knew Bonhoeffer in the 1930’s at Union Theological Seminary reported of him “His aristocracy was unmistakable yet not obtrusive, chiefly, I think owing to his boundless curiosity about every new environment in which he found himself and to his irresistible and unfailing sense of humor.” I’m so glad he had an unfailing sense of humor with all of this Bonhoeffer kitsch available for purchase!

The most important point is that while we can chuckle over this memorabilia, we remember Bonhoeffer as a martyred theologian with much to say to us about being faithful Christians in these often challenging 21st century days!

— Beth Lewis

Columba vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (59%, 3,455 Votes)
  • Columba (41%, 2,352 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,807

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146 comments on “Columba vs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer”

  1. Alone we all sail our small craft on high waves, and we face our monsters. It is tempting to seek to avoid the creatures from the depths, whose faces so much resemble our own. Bonhoeffer speaks to that: “You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out.” I faced my own hell recently, of speaking truth to power. It was not an epoch-making task, but it was frightening enough. Heartsick that perhaps out of fear I had botched my witness, I walked a labyrinth and in the crown invoked Bonhoeffer. And I had a healing vision. Bonhoeffer not only would go, he went; he took the gospel to Hell itself.

    But enough solemnity. It’s the Kitsch round. I present to your mind’s eye and ear this image of Bonhoeffer delivering those lesser known but still ringing words: “NESSIE, WER IST DEINER DADDY!”

    1. Thank you for your comments... very much. One of my favourite quotes is something like "Speak the truth even if your voice shakes." And it does.

  2. For me, it's Dietrich today, tomorrow, and on to the Golden Halo! Cast your vote for Bonhoeffer!

  3. I voted for Columba because he got kicked out of his country and found his own island.

    1. Me, too. Oliver, you'll love Iona. Bonhoeffer's amazing, but Columba always has my far, anyway.

  4. Great kitsch today! I was already pre-disposed toward Columba, but the Nessie ladle clinched it.

    1. Same here Kim. I love to cook and I need to find that Nessie ladle !! PS Cleaning out my utensil drawer for a spot for it 🙂

      1. I'd have voted for Columbia anyway, but so glad to see the Nessie ladle - I have one and bought more for all our kids for Christmas. You can find them on Amazon in three colors. So much fun!

        1. Thanks for the source!! I need one for my kitchen - in honor of Columba & my husband's Irish heritiage!!

      2. The Nessie ladle is available on Amazon. My husband asked me to order the mini colander and ladle. We're planning to use them next time my mother visits.

    2. Love the ladle. And having spent 5 days and nights roaming Iona, I thought Columba was my pick. But Bonhoeffer's witness speaks so timely to our present day fight for our national identity and soul, he gets my humble admiration as well as my vote.

      1. I, too, had thought Columba would get my vote as Iona is one of my most favorite places to have visited in my lifetime, and the ladle is so very tempting, but I must go with Bonhoeffer today for what Jim said: his "witness speaks so timely to our present day fight for our national identify and soul." I am also so glad to hear he had "an irresistible and unfailing sense of humor."

      2. Hey Jim, glad I recognize at least one fellow Lenten Madness pilgrim! I am for Bonhoeffer, I love a saint with a sense of humour. Now to order some Nessie ladles for John and my sister for Christmas.

  5. Columba's kitsch is the funniest yet; if it were only the kitsch I'd vote for him. But I planned on voting for Dietrich and I'm loyal to him - in this round. His flesh and blood and brain and achievements are all genuine. He stands as a saint and martyr we can relate to. And that means plenty to me, that such people exist today as models of saints and martyrs.

  6. The Nessie soup ladle is beyond awesome, but for me it's good bye Columba, willkommen Dietrich.

  7. Any kitsch that connects Dr. Who, the Loch Ness Monster soup ladle and an amusement park ride is worthy of a sainted vote. I think Bonhoeffer is a great challenge (I voted for both of these contenders in previous rounds), but his Kitsch is pretty ordinary.
    I doubt that Columba will win, but he gets my vote. I have done quite well up until this round. I won't be surprised if I am on the losing end of this vote, too.

    1. Sue, those were my thoughts exactly. I'm not a roller coaster fan, so riding Nessie won't happen but I absolutely love the image the blogger brought to mind.

  8. St Columba for me and the pilgrimage to Iona I'm going on later this year. Also a shout out to my friends at St Columba Conference and Retreat Center in Memphis, TN, a place of beauty and spiritual retreat.

  9. Way better kitsch for Columba (what, no dove-oriented items?), but I'll vote for standing up to the Nazis over converting sea monsters any day.

  10. If I voted strictly on would have to be for COLUMBA with Bessie AND Dr Who??? But I have to vote for Bonhoeffer.

  11. Really hard decision for me. It was the Nessie/Dr. Who reference that got me to go with Columba. Also, like our MugShot champ Oliver, I think anyone who gets kicked out and gets their own island is pretty cool.

  12. Had to go with Columba because of Nessie. I have ridden the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens and this past Christmas received the Nessie ladle as a gift--my daughter Vanessa received two as gifts!

  13. The last paragraph of Beth Lewis's write up clinched it for me, if I wasn't already convinced - Bonhoeffer all the way to the Halo!

  14. Kolumba's kitsch was kool, but since DB came up with term, I went with him. Seriously, wait, not seriously, I loved the bib, and seriously--this time I mean it, DB is a saint for our modern world.

  15. I'm shocked that people are more impressed by the Columba kitsch! Half of it is Nessie kitsch with really no connection to Columba at all! (I must get a couple of those Nessie ladles!) But Bonhoeffer! Take another look at those Lewis Williams icons, ladies and gentlemen! That is kitsch! And frankly, Mr. Bonhoeffer has it all over Columba in the saintly department. Columba, you're going down! (Figuratively speaking. of course. I'm sure he'll still be up in Heaven downing a Guiness or three with St. Brigid, no matter what happens to him here in Lentmadnessville.)

  16. Coffee! Any good Brethren will tell you the additional sacrament (or ordinance as we would more likely use) is the most holy and sacred ice cream social. Followed closely by the carry-in dinner.

  17. My vote was a kudos to our celebrity bloggers, and it was! I voted for Dietrich who admittedly found himself in a very non kitschy state of affairs, and handled it in a way that establishes a legacy for all time, but how creative to somehow crown him the king of kitsch!! Tough competition coming up in the faithful 4, but DB might just add a golden halo to that crown.

    1. Thank you for striking a blow for righteousness by using "kudos" as a singular noun. I can't count the times I've yelled, "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A KUDO!", or wanted to.

  18. For me, Jesus' message and life was one of non-violence, no matter the cost. Columba chose violence, saw the carnage for what it was, repented, and sought then to live in peace. Exile on an island as fragile exposed as Iona was form of dying to self to live for God. Bonhoeffer, as astute and prophetic as he was, chose violence (plot of kill Hitler), thinking it was the only answer. As honest and compelling as choice was at that time, it recapitulated the exact thinking that the Sanhedrin (supposedly) had, that it was better for one man to die than for the whole nation. Deciding to kill someone else to solve a problem rarely, if ever, solves the problem.

    1. Bonhoeffer didn't participate in any assassination attempt, even though he had been introduced to a group that wanted to kill Hitler. He was arrested and "charged with conspiring to rescue Jews, using official travel for other interests, and abusing his intelligence position to keep Confessing Church pastors out of the military."

      His association with the would-be assassins was just an innocent circumstance that the Nazis used as an excuse to kill him.

    1. I to believe that violence is never a solution. An overthrow would not necessarily have ended in death of Hilter.

  19. First, since confession is good for the soul - I was thoroughly swayed by the Loch Ness Monster Ladle. It looks so good and it just rolls off the tongue!
    Second, I do like a good Celtic Mystic who advocates reading.

  20. Dietrich is the man today:
    “Jesus Christ is not is not bound by space, but is present in all places at the same time . . .He is the same who is intercessor . . .and who is himself the end of the old world and the beginning of the new world of God.” (Christ The Center)

  21. Oh.....SEC, you vex me. I followed my original intention to vote for Bonhoeffer; but you made it difficult with your Columba kitsch. I just bought that Nessie ladle this week after eyeing it for several months; and I'm a huge Doctor Who fan! However, the saintly German won my vote and is probably my top choice for the Golden Halo. Onward and upward!

  22. I wasn't sure until they suggested the Loch Ness roller coaster at Busch Gardens for Columba. I love roller coasters and I have ridden this one!

  23. Bonhoeffer hat die viele Heiligkeit. Stimmen fuer Bonhoeffer! Bitte! Er verdient den goldene Glorienschein! Tausend Dank.

  24. One of the BEST parts of the Kitsch round are all the wonderful Christmas gift ideas that bubble to the surface. Makes the choice between these two even tougher

  25. Kitsch Komments are so clever. Bonhoeffer gets my vote today. Though Columba had the best kitsch, I thought, I could not honestly vote because of a clever plastic ladle, but had to choose Bonhoeffer's stand against Nazi-ism. Great writing, celebrity bloggers!

  26. I think the SEC needs to add a "translate text" button to our comments section! You're beyond me, Eileen!!

    1. Bonhoeffer has great holiness. Vote for Bonhoeffer. Please. He is worthy of the golden halo. Thousand thanks.

    2. I used Google Translate to read her post:

      Admittedly, the translation isn't perfect, but it's close: "Bonhoeffer has many holiness. Votes for Bonhoeffer! You're welcome! He deserves the golden halo! Thank you so much."


  27. Because of Columba's works, my ancestors became Christians. His witness has always spoken to me -- and of course the visit to Iona helped.

  28. Oops, hit "reply" too soon. I LOVED the kitsch today, and think the Nessie items were totally fair game for this round of the competition. Great job, bloggers! But, gotta go with my man from seminary, Dietrich!