Sunday, May 8, 2005

STRINGFELLOW ON BEING HOLY

AFTER FACSIMILES OF HOLINESS FADE. It’s been a while since I’ve inflicted readers with William Stringfellow. The following quote was originally found in a little volume entitled The Politics of Spirituality and anthologized by Bill Wylie Kellerman in A Keeper of the Word (Eerdmans, 1994). It speaks pointedly to me and my holiness tradition. Here is a radicality to be embraced after the facsimiles of holiness fade.

IMPLICATED WITHOUT SUCCOMBING. "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 being liberated from religiosity and religious pietism of any sort. 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.”

CONSCIOUSNESS OF ONE’S IDENTITY. "Being holy means a radical self-knowledge; a sense of who one is, a consciousness of one’s own 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. For human beings, relief and remedy from such profound confusion concerning a person’s own identity and the identity and character of the Word of God becomes the indispensable and authenticating ingredient of being holy, and it is the most crucial aspect of becoming mature, or being fulfilled, as a human in this world, in fallen creation.”

NOT ECCENTRICITY, BUT SANITY AND CONSCIENCE. "Sanity and conscience, rather than some sentimental or pietistic or self-serving notion of moral perfection, constitute the usual marks of sanctification. That which distinguishes the saint is not eccentricity, not perfection, but sanity and conscience…. The irony in being holy is that one is plunged more fully into the practical existence of this world, as it is, than in any other way.”

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