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

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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

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Fouling the public sphere: Can I avoid causing social media harm?

Blue Water Lily" by Mike Shell (8/3/2018)

I’ve pondered for years the dilemmas of using social media.

Quill & InkThere I find ready communication with long-time friends, who rarely use email any more. There I can easily share information, uplift, and humor with a broader readership. Yet there I am also drawn down into the anger, resentment, and despair that seems the default setting for our culture.

How does one discern a way to positive engagement with what is

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Spiritual life is physical

Human dualism drawing

In “Loss of shared space: the second pandemic” (4/17/2020), I wrote:

Our brains are hardwired so that the mere sight of a face [online] in real time minimally satisfies the need for a sense of presence with each other. But, our brains are in bodies in the material world. And our bodies need more than that minimal sight on a screen in order to feel—to know in the blood—that we are really in the midst of other people.

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Loss of shared space: the second pandemic

Image of empty coffeehouse through window

What happens when much of the human race suddenly loses the safety of sharing physical space? Does this loss go deeper than the pandemic itself? How do we heal from this great social wound?

Most living people have never had to notice how essential the mutual sharing of physical space is—until now.

Worship, school, work, shopping, eating out, going to bars, restaurants, coffeehouses, sporting events, and on, and on. We social animals live and breathe these hours of visceral physical

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The microaggression of calling out

Overlapping Venn Diagram circles

NOTE: I’ve changed the original title, “The microaggression of calling out microaggression,” to clarify the focus of my concern.  It is important to educate people about instances of microaggression “in the moment.” What troubles me are acts of “calling out” I’ve witnessed which return the injury done, rather than inviting collaborative healing.

The microaggression of calling out

At the quarterly business meeting of my Quaker Yearly Meeting (regional association of Quaker Meetings), I kept stumbling over my own

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Kinship and prejudice: Are migrants kin?

Our primate hardwiring militates against welcoming migrants. It’s that simple. And that complicated.

Individual human beings always act out of self-interest. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a simple animal survival drive. Beyond this, we are driven by a natural need to help our personal “species” survive. If we act for others, it is for our children, our families, our clan—our kin.

However, part of what makes human beings so successful among primates is our mental ability to extend our

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Weeds (Part III)

Part I: The parable of the weeds in the field
Part II: Religion or belief
Part III: Wilderness and cultivation

Wilderness and cultivation

“Religion in its purest form is a vast work of poetry.” (Carse, 111)

The first draft of “Weeds” was one long post. It began with my reaction to Matthew’s version of the weeds in the field parable, proceeded immediately with those insights from James Carse which now comprise the second half

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