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Thinking Out Loud


by Michael Jinkins | Nov 11, 2016

Alien-Nation"My concern is to understand America biblically."

So began William Stringfellow's An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (Waco: Word Press, 1973). It was a revolutionary biblical and theological inquiry into American politics in the Vietnam era. That book as much as any other in those days shaped my theological imagination. There were other writers who meant a great deal to me, of course, Thomas Merton, to whom Stringfellow's book was dedicated; Karl Barth, who said of Stringfellow when they met on Barth's American lecture tour, that Stringfellow's "was the most conscientious and thoughtful mind" he encountered in America; and others. But the stamp left by Stringfellow was unique and enduring.

As I have searched in recent days for "something unfoolish to say" (to borrow a phrase from Kris Kristofferson), I have returned again and again to Stringfellow.

He writes:

"The effort is to comprehend the nation, to grasp what is happening right now to the nation and to consider the destiny of the nation within the scope and style of the ethics and the ethical metaphors distinctive to the biblical witness in history." (Stringfellow, Ethic for Christians)

Over the next weeks and months, I shall reflect seriously on where we find ourselves today as Christians in America. My intention is to reflect theologically and biblically, very slowly and deliberately, before I "think out loud" so as not to allow my speech simply to be reactive, driven by anxiety. And I would like to signal to you, that in the new year, as part of our regular Tuesday blogs, I shall introduce a new theme, related closely to Stringfellow's thought. Again, turning to his words, in the preface to An Ethic for Christians:

"The task is to treat the nation within the tradition of biblical politics - to understand America biblically - not the other way around, not ... to construe the Bible Americanly."

Until then....

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