Tim VBy Tim Vivian, Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies,
California State University Bakersfield

In Honor of William Stringfellow (1928-1985), Prophet to a Land of Unlikeness, Near the Thirtieth Anniversary of His Death. With thanks to Bill Wylie-Kellerman.

In the midst of babel, speak the truth. . . .
And more than that, in the Word of God,
expose death and all death’s works and
wiles, rebuke lies, cast out demons,
exorcise, cleanse the possessed, raise
those who are dead in mind or conscience.

William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973), 42-43

Imagine someone (you can), in 1856,
inviting you to a slave auction, not as
an observer, certainly not as slaver,
but as slave. Imagine, if you can (you
can), your acceptance, your embracing
of the shackles on your hands and feet,
the buyers looking carefully at your
teeth, examining your genitals. Now
step off and imagine, if you can, that
your great nation is an auction block
with each citizen therein chattel;
imagine your country’s never-ending
violence in the name of democracy, liberty,
or, more honestly, the capitalization
of all humanity. Now, after the sale,
imagine being frog-marched to the
plantation where massah lives, property
nicknamed by your fellow properties
the White House. Imagine all this,
then go to church or to vote where
the parishioners decide which brand
of lock serves best and whether the cuffs
chafe too much or, at last, cut just right.

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