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Dorothee Sölle

  • This is the purpose of theology. By it my life becomes clearer and more conscious.

  • What is important is not what someone is but what he is waiting for. Not the events of life but its possibilities.

  • To be content with the world as it is is to be dead.

  • Our whole life consists of despairing of an answer and seeking an answer.

  • Every acceptance of suffering is an acceptance of that which exists. The denial of every form of suffering can result in a flight from reality in which contact with reality becomes ever thinner, ever more fragmentary. It is impossible to remove oneself totally from suffering, unless one removes oneself from life itself, no longer enters into relationships, makes oneself invulnerable.

  • The more people anticipate the elimination of suffering the less strength they have actually to oppose it. Whoever deals with his personal suffering only in the way our society has taught him — through illusion, minimization, suppression, apathy — will deal with societal suffering in the same way.

  • ... toleration of exploitation, oppression, and injustice points to a condition lying like a pall over the whole of society; it is apathy, an unconcern that is incapable of suffering.

  • There is no wrong suffering. There is imaginary, sham, feigned, simulated, pretended suffering. But the assertion that someone suffers for the right or wrong reason presupposes a divine, all-penetrating judgment able to distinguish historically obsolete forms of suffering from those in our time, instead of leaving this decision to the sufferers themselves.

  • God has no other hands than ours.

  • Help him / that's what faith is / he can't bring it about / his kingdom / couldn't then couldn't later can't now / not at any rate without you / and that is his irresistible appeal.

    • Dorothee Sölle,
    • "When He Came," Revolutionary Patience ()
  • Many have known all along / that nothing can be done from within the church / who can live on manna year after year / if he sees no point in what he's doing.

    • Dorothee Sölle,
    • "The Long March," Revolutionary Patience ()
  • Death is what takes place within us when we look upon others not as gift, blessing, or stimulus but as threat, danger, competition.

  • To take sides with life and experience how we can transcend ourselves is a process that has many names and faces. Religion is one of those names.

  • We are afraid of religion because it interprets rather than just observes. Religion does not confirm that there are hungry people in the world; it interprets the hungry to be our brethren whom we allow to starve.

  • Religion is made up of unrestrained wishes.

  • A competitive society is a society of envy.

  • If my hands are fully occupied in holding on to something, I can neither give nor receive.

    • Dorothee Sölle,
    • in Mary A. Warner and Dayna Beilenson, eds., Women of Faith and Spirit ()
  • Bible texts are best read with a pair of glasses made out of today's newspaper.

    • Dorothee Sölle,
    • in Karen Lebacqz, Justice in an Unjust World ()

Dorothee Sölle, German liberation theologian, writer

(1929 - 2003)

Full name: Dorothee Steffensky-Sölle.