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“I have mentioned earlier that I became persuaded to write while engaged in writing An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land. That was no conclusion abstractly reached. It was mainly occasioned by the actual political situation in which An Ethic was written. On the very day that Daniel Berrigan, S.J., then a political fugitive because of his opposition to the war in Southeast Asia and his resistance to the war regime, was seized at the home of Anthony Towne and myself on Block Island by the federal police, I was typing the manuscript of that book. Subsequent to Berrigan’s capture, Towne and I were subjected to harassment, official defamation, and surveillance by the authorities, including a remarkable incident in which a government agent, once again intruding upon my work on An Ethic, sought to interrogate me about theology and politics. He began the interview this way: “Dr. Stringfellow, you’re a theologian.” (I thought his introit faintly sarcastic.) “Doesn’t the Bible say you must obey the Emperor?” His query startled me, I admit, not so much for its thrust as for the evidence it gave of how minutely the ruling powers scrutinize citizens. I could not concede the simplistic premise about the Bible that his question assumed, and I rebuked him about this, taking perhaps forty-five minutes to do so. During the discourse, he wilted visibly, and, when I paused momentarily, he abruptly excused himself and departed. This was some dissapointment to me, for I had only just begun to respond to the multifarious implications of the issue he had raised. The episode contributed to my conviction to write this book.”

– A Keeper of the Word: Selected Writings of William Stringfellow. Edited by Bill Wylie Kellerman. Eerdmans, 1994.

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