A lawyer theologian

On March 2, 1985, William Stringfellow, lawyer, theologian, Episcopalian, died.

After graduating from Harvard Law School Stringfellow moved to Harlem to practice law. The book he write about that experience touched me when I read it in the 1960s.

Stringfellow became famous in the early seventies. Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan had burnt draft records and subsequently went underground instead of surrendering to the federal authorities. After several months of flight, punctuated by strategic public appearances, he was arrested at Stringfellow’s house on Block Island, named “Eschaton” – the “End Time.”

I later read a number of his theological works, in which he called for a biblical commitment of faith in the face of the powers and principalities of this world. This was no other-worldly spirituality but one rooted in worship of the true God, in opposition to the idols. Unfortunately I don’t have any of his works with me here in Honduras. But this quote in The Politics of Spirituality, gives a taste of his  savory thought:

“…being holy, becoming and being a saint does not mean being perfect but being whole; it does not mean being exceptionally religious, or being religious at all, it means begin liberated from religiosity and religious pietism of any sort; it does not mean being morally better, it means being exemplary; it does not mean being godly, but rather being truly human; it does not mean being otherworldly, but it means being deeply implicated in the practical existence of this world without succumbing to this world or any aspect of this world, no matter how beguiling. Being holy means a radical self-knowledge; a sense of who one is a consciousness of one’s identity so thorough that it is no longer confused with the identities of others, of persons or of any creatures or of God or of any idols.”

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