Blog Posts

Sissy polio boy, 1955

I spilled tomato juice on my
flannel shirt my
first year in kindergarten
in a new town with
kids I didn’t know

and they laughed.
It felt like they laughed
at me but
who knows?

When at age four you’ve
just spent weeks in a hospital
and months taking
hot baths and castor oil

but they tell you how lucky

Continue Reading

William Stringfellow, Part 5: “Babylon & Jerusalem as Events”

Continuing my series on Stringfellow’s An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973)

Events in Sacred Story

It is worth repeating that in William Stringfellow’s language of biblical discernment, “nonempirical” connotes belief systems based on abstract concepts and notions, whereas “empirical” refers to the actual experience of biblical teachings working themselves out in the world.

The Bible is a sacred story collection.  Contrary to our modern Western notions, sacred story is about

Continue Reading


How can a virus travel
+++and not love?

Or are we not now all infected
with shame
+++at our human nakedness?

We don’t want to know our own evil
so profess good, pretending
+++to smile without hurting.

So painful.

The Tiananmen butterfly warns us:
cyclones we’ve stirred with our grasping
+++While the world shudders.

Continue Reading

William Stringfellow, Part 4: The sanctification of this world

“Christ of the Breadlines,” Fritz Eichenberg (1953)

Continuing my series of excerpts from and reflections on Stringfellow’s An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973).

Empirical and Nonempirical

Here is where William Stringfellow begins to hold our feet to the fire, we who are often proud “professors” of our religious traditions yet feeble “practitioners.” He challenges us with his special use of the term “empirical” as he applies biblical political ethics to present-day America.

For Stringfellow, “nonempirical” connotes belief

Continue Reading

“So who is this ‘Bright Cow,’ anyway?” – from April 13, 2008

Flying crow (1024px)

Occasionally people wonder where I got the totem name Bright Crow that I use in my email address. Here’s the story I wrote to explain it in the voice of Walhydra’s amanuensis in 2008.

Walhydra likes to tease her amanuensis about a typo he makes occasionally with his totem name, Bright Crow.

Since he’s been typing for forty years, often to earn a living, he just shrugs and laughs. Nonetheless, she thinks the question

Continue Reading

“Walhydra’s salutary moment” – from October 25, 2006

Latte art at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, Jacksonville, FL

Walhydra likes to believe that her nostalgia is not as tacky and self-deceptive as some people’s.


She thinks back on her youth—sometime in another century—as a time when she and her peers were profoundly affected by the liberation movements and communal aspirations of their era. Not to mention their discovery of sex…and those other two things.

This present Calvinist age mixes sensationalizing with trivializing of that earlier time, in order to sneer at the heartfelt cries of its

Continue Reading

William Stringfellow, Part 3: “The Demoralization of America”

: “War crimes (old crematorium at the former Dachau concentration camp)," by Ilias Bartolini on flickr

Autobiographical introduction

I began reading William Stringfellow’s An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973) because, in the midst of our 21st century American horror story, I remembered how profoundly he changed my adolescent view of the world during “Race, War, and Poverty,” the Lutheran Youth Expo (now called ELCA Youth Gathering) at Lenoire Rhyne College in August of 1968.

My senior year of high school in Columbia, SC, had climaxed, not

Continue Reading

William Stringfellow, Part 2: “The Fall” as metaphor for American political reality

"We the People" text from the US Constitution

Last week I posted excerpts from the preface to William Stringfellow’s 1973 book, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land.  Central to Stringfellow’s argument is his assertion that Americans are “grossly naive or remarkably misinformed” about the biblical concept of “the Fall.”

Christian ideology, in particular Protestant Christian ideology, has dominated the nation’s distorted self-image and consequent hurtful policies and culture from the beginning.  The churches project “too mean, too trivial, too narrow, too

Continue Reading

Vivian Gornick on “the ever-enlivening fellowship of suffering”

The following excerpts are from “Why Some of Us Thrive in a Crisis,”
by Vivian Gornick, in The Atlantic, June 2020, pp.18-20.

Vivian Gornick has observed a wide-spread phenomenon in the midst of the pandemic: “Loners who sped into public service faster than altruism could explain. These were people who trusted no one, joined nothing, signed nothing; yet here they were making masks, checking on neighbors, bagging groceries.”

As she delves into

Continue Reading

William Stringfellow, Part 1: Against interpreting the Bible for the convenience of America

The following is excerpted from the preface to An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land , by William Stringfellow (1973).

“My concern is to understand America biblically…. The task is to treat the nation within the tradition of biblical politics—to understand America biblically—not the other way around, not (to put it in an appropriately awkward way) to construe the Bible Americanly.

“Th"An Ethic for Christians</a></p><a href=

Continue Reading

Site Footer