Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

William Stringfellow in Anglo-American Perspective

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

William Stringfellow in Anglo-American Perspective

Article excerpt

William Stringfellow in Anglo-American Perspective. Edited by Anthony Dancer. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005. 200 pp. $94.95 (cloth).

Ardent critic of imperial America and the institutional church, William Stringfellow (1928-1985) was commended by Karl Barth, a lifelong correspondent of Jacques Ellul and author of sixteen books. A lay theologian, he was also a civil rights activist, Harvard educated street lawver, co-conspirator with the Berrigans, and the subject of FBI surveillance. Described once as "rude, ruthless, rigid and right" (p. 109), Stringfellow was an outsider in the academy and little of his writing remains in print. Yet his continuing influence is evident in the political liturgies of the Atlantic Life Community, Walter Wink's writing on the powers and movements striving to bring "Word and World" together.

Anthony Dancer has assembled a concise Stringfellow reader and a collection of essays and reflections on Stringfellows life and theology from an impressive list of contributors. Part I, "Writings," consists of articles, chapters and excerpts that show the breadth and passion of a theologian who defies systematization and considered inconsistency one of the hallmarks of Christian practice. This seventy-page collection addresses the church at the intersection of Word (scripture) and world, the reign of powers and principalities, the pervasiveness of death, biography as theology, the politics of liturgy and sacrament, reading America biblically, apocalyptic ethics, and the reduction of clergy to "professional Christians."

Part II, "Reflections," consists of nine articles by an ecumenical and professionally diverse group. Most of these came together at an Oxford conference on Stringfellow organized by the editor in 1997, hence the "Anglo-American perspective." The book's unacknowledged locus on mission reflects the concerns of this group. Particularly engaging are Kenneth Leech's article on urban pastoral theology; Christopher Rowland's examination of Stringfellow's apocalyptic hermeneutics; and Mark Chapman's "Politics of Liturgy," which locates Stringfellow within the Anglican tradition. Whether they first encountered Stringfellow in person, on paper or in prayer, each contributor, through critical engagement, communicates intense regard and affection for this exasperating, particular, passionate man, especially fitting given Stringfellow's conviction that biography is the locus of theology. …

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