From 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.”
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, re-posted from his facebook.
A long aside. I’ve been indexing a book on the principalities and powers which will appear in October from Fortress Press. “Principalities” is a new testament name for spiritual structures of power (a notion important to movements various) – and I’ve actually been writing about them in the concrete for four decades or so. The index has been kicking my butt and taken a chunk out of my life at a very hectic time of transition. But in point of fact, and unlikely as it may seem, I love indexing. My first, twenty-five years ago, involved a highlighter, note cards and a shoe box. The process is still layered, but electronic search functions come into play now (toward the end). I always do them myself because there’s often a politics involved. A hired indexer is unlikely to enter, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). See also Ku Klux Klan.” Plus I love the ironies and accidental poems which surface. In my recent Detroit book (if you bought one and it doesn’t have an index, email or inbox me), we get: “Hicks, Charity; Hitler, Adolph: Homrich Wrecking; House, Gloria.” Or how about: “Climate change; Columbus, Christopher; Commodity fetishism; Conservancy; Corktown”? I smile at such conjoinings. In this current one, an entry can have 20 subheads that amount to a theological or biographical snapshot. Indexes are for the sake of the reader’s search, but can be a sly pedagogy tagging along. I also surmise that what’s turned so long and exhausting on this current one is to a certain extent personal. This collection does cover a broad range of topics (think: barbed wire, drugs, family, commercial sports, nuclear weapons, emergency management…) and yet because it’s a series of articles there’s a good bit of repetition on theological framing. Page mark every reference to demonic, war, or hope? Decisions at every click. But the real thing is that this is an integrative process in my own head – making connections and cross-connections in my life and world over four decades of work, right at a point where I’m trying to make sense of my history and discern what’s next. Sifting and sorting what’s incidental from what is absolutely crucial.
By Bill Wylie-Kellermann, an excerpt from the newly released Principalities in Particular: a Practical Theology of the Powers .
The New York Times has begun to sell “truth.” Advertisements come to my email. You can read them in print. You can see them on TV: “The truth is hard. The truth is hard to find. The truth is hard to know. The truth is more important than ever.” (Even “The truth is: alternative facts are lies.”) Though I myself have railed against the paper and know it needs to be read critically as liberal or neo-liberal corporate media, I’m actually thinking of getting a real world paper subscription. The truth is, as a paper of record, I’ve relied on it in this writing.
Will the attacks on journalistic integrity, on mainstream news as fake news, on the media as the “enemy of the people,” actually prompt a yearning within the fourth estate for the renewal of the journalistic vocation? Continue reading
Excerpt and reflection from Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Explorations in Liturgical Direct Action
Among the liturgical ironies of Epiphany is that the date of this ancient feast should be rooted in a heresy and then subjected to the interests of Roman imperial manipulation.
There were many gnostic approaches to Jesus, all tending to assault the integrity of his person. He wasn’t human,he only ‘appeared’ to be. He floated through life, his feet barely touching ground. Or,as some had it, the divine spirit swooped down on him at a certain point, occupying his body and slipping away just before the agony of the crucifixion. In short, he never died. Nor was he ever born. Against such the creeds,indeed the scriptures themselves, avail. Continue reading