Joe was born with a twisted leg and a crooked foot. He was a smallish boy who quit growing at 5’5”. Like the stand beneath a globe, Joe’s diminutive frame supported a large head . He had a sharp mind. Raised as a Catholic, Joe excelled in school and graduating at the top of his class. In college Joe continue to outstrip his contemporaries until he reached the penultimate academic achievement, a PhD in Literature from one of the most prestigious universities in his country.
During his postgraduate work Joe met and fell in love with a young coed. The breakup sent him spiraling into depression and despair. Sadly, with the world ahead and a PhD in his pocket twenty-three year old Joe became consumed with thoughts of suicide.
Joe’s post academic career never lived up to the promise of college. He tried to write. He taught a little. His attempted novels were all rejected. He wrote a couple of plays. They weren’t published.
To pay for his Romaine Noodle existence Joe was forced to take a job at a bank. He hated it. They fired him. He bounced around, surfed sofas, and drifted in and out of various philosophical ideologies. By now Joe’s love of church was long forgotten. He read Marx and Engels. He fell in love with the writings of Dostoyevsky and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
A biographer said of this time in Joe’s life, “His diaries reflected the writings of a man who was isolated, preoccupied by ‘religious-philosophical’ issues, and lacked a sense of direction.”
Then at the age of twenty-seven Joe met the man that would alter the trajectory of his life. Joe’s new mentor was a failed painter turned politician. Joe quickly realized that this fellow artist not only shared his distrust for the establishment, but also had the courage and charisma to force it to change.
And so in 1924 Joe threw in his lot with his new hero and became member number 8762 of the Nationalist Socialist Party.
Over the next ten years Joe quickly rose through the party ranks and ultimately become the second most powerful man in his country. Together with his idol Joe would eventually help kill six million innocent Jews and drag the world into the most costly war mankind would ever experience.
I don’t think there were ever two men in human history responsible for more suffering than Joseph Goebbels and his insane master Adolf Hitler.
Why do I tell you this?
Here’s the thing. Young Joe was just like every other young Joe. And that’s what scares me.
Evil seldom happens suddenly. The power of ideas fostered and fomented over time shape us into what we ultimately become.
A young clear mind slanted by prejudice and twisted by disappointment ultimately congealed into the darkness that was to be known as Joseph Goebbels. I’m sure he never set out to be infamous. He never intended to be a mass murderer. No, young Joe simply allowed himself to be carried along in the fog of darkness until he found his hope in a mind even more dark and twisted than his own.
If it could happen to Joe, it can happen to us.
2Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,
Guard your heart. Guard your mind.