Elders

JeanieBy Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann, an excerpt from her “Editor’s Note” in the May 1999 issue of The Witness magazine, organized around the theme “Aging: Learning to be an Elder.” 

Elders usually must let go of their expectations to be power brokers, but they are also often positioned in a way that allows them greater freedom to act politically. Recently my partner Bill and I were at an Ash Wednesday vigil at the local manufacturer of cruise missile engines. Except for a few college students, we were probably the youngest people there–which isn’t saying much since we are in our 40s. On one level, that gave us an opportunity to beat ourselves up for our demographics–Why is the peace movement so white, so middle class and now so elderly? But in thinking about it, where would we prefer that elders be? What better task, could they adopt than to witness against fire power that can carry nuclear payload, but now is used in first-strike attacks against countries like Iraq or the former Yugoslavia? The conviction of these older ones is a gift to us. (I remember during a civil disobedience campaign against this same manufacturer in the early 1980s hearing a senior citizen say to a young mother who was agonizing about whether to do the action, “You take care of your babies. I’ll do this in your name and, before long, you can do this in the name of another mother.”) Continue reading

The Dysfunction of Denial

BillFrom Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s newest release Dying Well: The Resurrected Life of Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann:

I don’t intend to use it as a frame, but I do want to say something about denial. I understand how healthy a survival mechanism denial can be in certain circumstances, a sane way to cope in the short term. So let me affirm it up front and in passing, but add that as a long-run tactic it is dysfunctional. As already stated, I also believe it is politically endemic to the culture. On societal scale, it hides the body bags, renders the tortured or the prisoners or mistreated workers invisible, obfuscates privilege, distances us technologically from the explosion, misdirects our gaze with media, deadens us to suffering (of others), and outsources the necessary violence of empire. Among other things.

The Undoing of Theodicy

BillFrom Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s newest release Dying Well: The Resurrected Life of Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann:

…in the course of Jeanie’s illness and death, I’ve not really found myself angry with God. I never really raged against the locked doors of heaven, or demanded to know why the Divine should permit such bad things happening to one so good as she. I suspect a reason for this that is theological. I wager it has to do with our shared biblical view of the powers. Continue reading

Christ the King Sermon: Bossy and Beautiful

momBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
November 26, 2017, at Day House Catholic Worker in Detroit

“Let me show you how to fold this, Grandpa,” Isaac said after he picked up a dish rag off my dad’s kitchen floor. He carefully folded it just as he had learned at school. At night, we’ve been reading The BFG and it is slowed down by the fact that Isaac pauses regularly to point out all the words he can read on each page. It’s incredible! I love watching all these incredible things he is learning and knowing that I am not responsible for it. I just get to delight it in. Continue reading

Pondering on Baptism

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Our pile of rocks beside the Detroit River.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, co-editor of http://www.radicaldiscipleship.net

After the service ended, the rocks began to pile up. Grandparents brought stones from beloved places far away and the kids waded into the water gathering rocks and adding them to the pile. We left that day, but the pile of rocks still sits beside the river as the waters pass through the Huron and toward Erie down the Detroit River.

We had just baptized Cedar Martin and his cousin Ira Cole. We read Joshua 4, where the Israelites cross the Jordan and Joshua tells them to leave a pile of rocks by the river because “One day your children will ask, “what do these stones mean?’ Continue reading

Sermon: Death Has No Dominion

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, last sermon as Pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit

Romans 6:1-11
Matthew 10:24-39

When I was called to St Peter’s in 2006 it marked the close of an important part of my life and the beginning of another. On the last night of 2005, Jeanie Wylie crossed over to God, having lived 7 years, and gloriously, with an aggressive brain tumor. Though marked with grief, that was nonetheless an amazing time for me, for our family: in those seven years she was teaching us how to die, and so how to live.

Continue reading

This Advent

This Advent, as we light the candles in the dark and sing for Emmanuel, let’s be even more intentional than usual in clearing the commercial Christmas assault advent wreathfrom our minds and hearts. Whatever God is calling us to has little to do with shopping and driving ourselves into a frenzy creating the “perfect” holiday. We need to honor the silence and the dark, to remember our stories, to teach the youth in our lives what we believe matters. We need to recall, to intuit, to dream the life we’re called to and then make a plan that allows us to strip down enough to have it. In the course of that, of course, we need to give thanks for all that we are and for those traveling in our circles and beyond.    -Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann, THe Witness 1998