I was thinking today again about Glenn’s Dec 10 post. I reread the passage and then the sections around the excerpt in Kellermann’s book. I’m particularly struck by the phrase that Glenn emphasized in the quote “resurrection is verified where rebellion against the demonic thrives.”, pierced by a vision of faith that calls each of us to live as if we are always in the presence of the incarnate God. Instead I tend to live comfortably alongside the mundane embodiment of the demonic.
A few pages later in A Keeper of the Word, Stringfellow has a conversation with an FBI agent. The agent is pushing him to reveal where the Berrigan’s after their conviction for a particularly pointed anti-war protest in Catonsville. It is one of those moments that had the technology existed, we might all be watching it now on wiki-leaks.
Stringfellow later offered a sermon about his time after Dan Berrigan’s arrest in the home he shared with Anthony Towne. Stringfellow retreated into the Bible where he was “caught up in a dialectic between an experience with the Biblical witness and my everyday existence as a human being.” I have to admit Stringfellow’s retreat into the Bible after having agents bust into his home and arrest a priest for an action of resistance to an unjust war challenges me. I wouldn’t go there, I’d go to anger, frustration, powerless rage, weeks later I might think of the Bible as a place for challenge rather than solace.
The episode of the arrest of Peter and John, as told in Acts, following upon the healing of the lame beggar at the temple gate, sums up the issues:
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the Temple and hte Sadducees came upon them , annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody… Acts 4:1-3a
I read this and I read it and read it; the most difficult questions of my initiation in Bible study returned: What does “the resurrection from the dead” mean if proclaiming it is cause for arrest? Why is healing a cripple so threatening and provocative to the public authorities? Why should this apparent good work count as a crime? ….
There is a sentimental (and unbiblical) tradition of “Bible stories” in American Christendom that, when coupled with the thriving naivety of Americans toward their own nation, renders it difficult for many citizens, particularly churchfolk, to assimilate the fact that the Christian witness is treated as a criminal offense, even though this is so bluntly and repeatedly reported in New testament texts. (kellermann, 337)
Are we are waiting for the one who invites us into our lives of crime, or the one who enables us to rest comfortably in our special status?