Today’s comic features our first guest artist, Corey Simon, of the Colloquy, Interrupted podcast. Wesley Bros has been interviewed twice on the podcast (Check the first interview here, and the second here), and I thought it was time to return the favor! I hope you enjoy Corey’s thoughtful comic and commentary below.
I was introduced to today’s guest character, William Stringfellow, by a fellow seminary student and dear friend of mine and quickly became enthralled. Stringfellow rekindled the biblical discussion of the Powers and Principalities, these being the forces that influence us, that hold power over us, that possess us. These Powers and Principalities are the forces that the biblical authors would refer to as the demonic, and in the end each of these Powers and Principalities, while being created by God, owe their allegiance to the Power of Death in the world, personified as Satan in the biblical witness.
Deeply political Stringfellow worked in Harlem and witnessed first-hand just what oppression looked like and realized that there was more to it than just “people are fallen,” he instead began to understand that it isn’t just people who are fallen but all things, including the Powers and Principalities, ie our philosophies, our ideologies, our systems of government, even our denominational institutions.
The passage in the final frame is a reduced version of a passage found in Conscience and Obedience in which he recounts his prayer for then president, Richard Nixon:
“I remember, vividly, participating, on the evening before the second inauguration of Richard Nixon, in public worship, where the open intention focused upon the president and his captivations with arbitrary power and interminable war. When my turn came to speak that night, I invoked one of the church’s ancient prayers of exorcism on behalf of Richard Nixon, then discernibly possessed by the power of death in these definite ways. The intercession was for the restoration of his humanity: for his release: for his healing. I did this, if with some trepidation, though, I trust, also with due humility, because the crisis for the nation had exceeded official crime and unconstitutionality, as far as I understood, and at that point also involved how this person- the emperor himself- had become a victim-perchance the most pathetic and dehumanized victim of all in the whole ordeal of America signified by the Vietnam war. So I said this prayer, which originated in the church’s experience in such matters long ago, on behalf of the humanity of Mr. Nixon. The congregation, about a thousand were present, returned “Amen!” and then again “Amen!” and, then, as if to make it perfectly clear that the prayer was their own prayer, they all stood and the “Amen!” was transposed into a thunderous ovation. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom, 12:14). That measures the outreach of the advocacy of the biblical witness.”
Stringfellow died in 1985 from complications owing to his diabetes, and while much of his writings are more-or-less rooted in the Civil Rights battles of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, his words continue to be increasingly relevant today and I imagine his words spoken over President Nixon would be akin to words he would speak over President Trump.
The host of characters today are made up of Franklin Graham (the one praying in thanksgiving), William Barber (the one praying in anger), and Joel Olsteen (the one ignoring the issues of importance), and the image of Jesus in this instance is modeled after the late Philando Castile as Stringfellow was rather focused on America’s oppression of African Americans, something still relevant today.
-Corey Simon, Colloquy, Interrupted
William Stringfellow, Essential Writings. (Orbis Books)