Sunday, 15 March 2009

William Stringfellow on the circus

Since Stringfellow was such an avid lover of the circus, I suppose I should conclude our Week of Stringfellow with a passage on the theological significance of the circus:

“In the circus, humans are represented as freed from consignment to death. There one person walks on a wire fifty feet above the ground, … another hangs in the air by the heels, one upholds twelve in a human pyramid, another is shot from a cannon. The circus performer is the image of the eschatological person – emancipated from frailty and inhibition, exhilarant, transcendent over death – neither confined nor conformed by the fear of death any more…. So the circus, in its open ridicule of death … shows the rest of us that the only enemy in life is death and that this enemy confronts everyone, whatever the circumstances, all the time…. The service the circus does – more so, I regret to say, than the churches do – is to portray openly, dramatically, and humanly that death in the midst of life. The circus is eschatological parable and social parody: it signals a transcendence of the power of death, which exposes this world as it truly is while it pioneers the Kingdom” (A Simplicity of Faith, pp. 89-91).

Normally the theological topics on this blog in any given week are completely random and unrelated. So I’d be interested to know whether readers have enjoyed this week-long focus on a single person. If this was an enjoyable diversion, I’d be happy to do similar themes in future, perhaps focusing on other neglected thinkers. (Lately I’ve been collecting and reading some of Donald MacKinnon’s more obscure and forgotten works: perhaps a MacKinnon week might be fun?)

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