The Resurrection is Against the Law

BillAn excerpt from Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s classic Seasons of Faith and Conscience (1991).

The sealing of the tomb is, I believe, notoriously misunderstood. I grew up with a Sunday School notion that to seal the tomb was a matter of hefting the big stone and cementing it tight. The seal, in my mind’s eye, was something like first-century caulking–puttying up the cracks to keep the stink in. Not so. This is a legal seal. Cords would be strung across the rock and anchored at each end with clay. To move the stone would break the seal and indicate tampering. Continue reading

In Ever-More Predatory and Beguiling Forms

BWKFrom Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s recent release Principalities in Particular: A Practical Theology of the Powers That Be (Oct 2017):

In the struggle for racial justice the recognition of “institutional racism,” that insidious structural element far beyond personal prejudice, was a huge step toward seeing racism as a principality. Ironically, however, the liberal preoccupation with its institutional character would prove progressively blind to its overpowering spiritual dimension. The African American freedom struggle, founded under SCLC’s early banner, “To Heal the Soul of the Nation,” tended to become more and more a civil rights movement with a largely legislative agenda. In the several decades since Stringfellow’s address, the legal apparatus of our American apartheid has been all but dismantled. End of racism, right? No. We ignore its spiritual reality at the peril of our national soul. And there is no force in our history that has proven more relentless or devastatingly resilient than white racism. It is empirically a demon which again and again rises up transmogrified in ever-more predatory and beguiling forms, truly tempting our despair. The frustration we suffer is not unlike that of the disciples who were gently upbraided by Jesus, “This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”
Continue reading

Death is All They’ve Got to Stand On

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 9.26.01 AMBy Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann (right)

*This is the 8th installation of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

If you would be my disciples… take up your cross and follow me.

I am so glad for this beloved mosaic, a series piecing together the shape of radical discipleship in our moment (plus the history we stand upon and with). The calls to the discipline of Jesus are here rooted in spirit, heart, earth, watershed, creaturehood, beauty, community and the stories of a Way incarnate. Continue reading

God’s Way of Whispering to Me

blockq (2)On June 18 2019 as part of the “40 Days of Action,” the Michigan Poor Peoples Campaign: of a National Call for Moral Renewal, undertook a series of direct actions in and around Campus Martius, center for the development priorities of Dan Gilbert and the administration of Detroit Mayor, Mike Duggan. Gilbert owns some 100 buildings downtown, is constructing a $billion skyscraper (over 60% in taxpayer expense, including school funding), is currently under indictment for predatory loans, is responsible for 1800 mortgage foreclosures (half of which are abandoned or demolished), co-led the Blight Task force selecting building (and neighborhoods) for demolition, and for some is the darling of the city’s comeback narrative – Making Detroit Great Again. The cities footprint is being concentrated and downsized at the expense of poor and Back people who are literally being expelled foreclosures, water shut-offs, school closures, and transit infrastructure withdrawal. Seven people, of the 23 arrested that day, are currently on trial for blocking the QLine (a three-mile streetcar name for Gilbert’s Quiken Loans and built at a cost of $146 million). The “Gilbert 7” did not deny their actions but testified to their reasons and justification for the action, naming the price of racism and poverty. At this printing, the jury has been out three days and is currently deadlocked with half the group committed to innocence by moral necessity. Dan Gilbert has plans to demolish the room in which the jury is deliberating, along with Circuit Court and Wayne Co. Jail, all of which will be rebuilt far from the now largely white downtown. What follows is the closing argument of Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann who defended himself in the case.

In my opening statement I thanked you for serving on the jury and underscored my conviction of importance of what we do as one. So again, thanks.

You’ve been instructed by the judge not to read any press accounts of the trial. It would actually be pretty hard to find any. You heard Charles Wilson of Rock Security, Dan Gilbert’s security operation testify that they have a whole unit, a room full of people who do nothing all day but scan the media for reference to him. We’re talking about the landlord of the Detroit News and Free Press here. Continue reading

Learning the Word in the Shell of the World

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PC: Michael Raymond Smith

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

For Danielle and Matt, 4/28/12

it is
new as an egg nested high in the cleft of a rock
teeming precariously, with life,
and ancient, even as the rock itself

fresh as manna glistening the ground
of a wilderness camp
convened in the company of ungulates, angels, and wild beasts.
we travel light, learning this day
our daily bread – and nothing more Continue reading

Journaling on the outside of the Jail

20181211_192911By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

This Advent my dad, Bill Wylie-Kellermann, spent 10 days in jail for an action he was part of in the spring with the Poor People’s Campaign. Each night I journaled and shared them on facebook. It was a practice that held my heart steady in a rather chaotic week and a half.

Day 1 of Dad in Jail for Advent
“But who will….”

My morning was crappy. Both kids with tantrums leaving it almost impossible to get everyone where they needed to be on time. On the way to school, I pulled a completely unnecessary turn around, scraped a log next to someone’s driveway which pulled off my bumper.

So, I am driving down 96 to concerning sounds of things scraping against my tires and wind rushing through the exposed mechanics of my car. I am running late, but trying to still make it to see my dad and Tommy Tackett turn themselves in at court today. I want to get video statements. I want to help alert press releases with on the ground information. I want to say thank you to my dad and hug him goodbye. Continue reading

Tommy Tackett and Bill Wylie-Kellermann begin 12 Day Jail Sentence

33170060_10214353732610697_5007133656053972992_oBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

On May 21, 2018, 16 people were arrested in Michigan as part of the Poor People’s Campaign 40 days of actions around the country. They blocked the entrances to the Department of Health and Human Services. It was a cry against the systemic racism so ingrained in our systems that claim to be supporting the poor. Continue reading