Detroit is a place where one can take the temperature of the world. Think on the rise of Fordism and auto-love, the Arsenal of Democracy, the practice of the sit-down strike, or the invention of the expressway and suburban mall. Consider more recently the rebellion of 1967, the deindustrialization of a union town, the assault on democracy in this Black-majority city, the structural adjustments of municipal bankruptcy, and now a struggle for water as a human right.
Bill Wylie-Kellermann tells the story of working out his “place-based vocation” with a simultaneous commitment to gospel non-violence. He evokes the place Anishinabe people tread lightly the banks of Wawiatonong, “where the water goes around.” One narrative thread walks a procession through the streets, a contemporary “stations of the cross,” to the locations of crucifixion today. Another tells the story of resurrection in struggle and human community. Herein are public disruptions, liturgical direct actions, and courtroom trials. In resistance and risk, this book proclaims the gospel in context.
Bill Wylie-Kellermann knows that deep neighborly truth about a great city must be told in poetic playful idiom. He knows that ordinary prose has become the dialect of corporate fascism. This book is Wylie-Kellermann’s welcome read of Detroit from below, the wide angle lens of forgotten neighbors who have been done in by the governor, by the manager, by the banks and corporations, and by all those powers who do not care. The book is a truthful counter-narrative about the city. It offers an urban epitome of our national narrative. It must be read, heard, and noticed because it is a history of conscience, a history of despair, and a powerful story of relentlessly body-engaged hope.
-Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
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