Paul writes Having in the last few days re-read, Mike Riddell’s novel The Insatiable Moon (Brilliant, by the way!). Having continued to read about NZ Poet / Prophet James K. Baxter, I’ve also felt the pull again to dip in to the writing of William Stringfellow and Bill Wylie-Kellermann again. Long-standing readers of this blog will appreciate that both have been important to my Jesus-following journey over the last few years.
From an old post , I included the following two quotes from Stringfellow:
“…As I find it, religion in America is characteristically atheistic or agnostic. Religion has virtually nothing to do with God and has little to do with the practical lives of men in society. Religion seems, mainly, to have to do with religion. The churches – particularly of Protestantism – in the United States are, to a great extent, preoccupied with religion rather than with the Gospel…” [Emphasis, mine] William Stringfellow
So how might Stringfellow describe the ministry of Christ?
He writes, “Christ’s is a ministry of great extravagance – of a reckless, scandalous expenditure of his life for the sake of the world’s life. Christ gives away his life. The world finds new life in His life and in His gift of His life to the world. His is not a very prudential life, not a very conservative life, not a very cautious life, not – by ordinary standards – a very successful life. He shunned no one, not even adulterers, not even tax collectors, not even neurotics and psychotics…not even poor people, not even beggars, not even lepers, not even those who ridiculed him, not even those who betrayed him, not even his own enemies. He shunned no one. The words that [describe] the ministry of Christ are…sorrow, poverty, rejection, radical, unpopularity. They are the words of agony. It seems ridiculous to apply such words to the ministry of churches nowadays. Yet where these words cannot be truthfully applied to the ministry of churches today they must then be spoken against the churches to show how far the churches are from being the body of Christ engaged in the ministry of Christ in the world.” (Emphasis, mine).
Here’s a very good Wylie-Kellermann essay (Naming the Powers: William Stringfellow as Student and Theologian), and the fascinating syllabus he is teaching in February. I wish I lived closer, but will have to make do with having read many of the course books. Also Wipf and Stock Publishers have some newly re-printed Stringfellow books, including the very good The Politics of Spirituality. You can hear Stringfellow here (Quicktime). Thanks Anthony.
You could do a lot worse than start the year reading about Stringfellow (Kellermann's reflections would be a great place to start), or something written by Stringfellow.