I’ve appreciated Stringfellow’s work in An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land for as long as I can remember, but only recently have I started acquiring his works on a larger scale and devoting myself to reading them. Stringfellow, is, for my money the greatest lay-theologian to come out of the 1960s-70s upheaval in the United States. His level of perception and theological acumen, combined with a very profound sort of situatedness in the realities of his time make him utterly unique. One possible analogy I might make is that Stringfellow is an urban sort of Wendell Berry, though a good bit more polemical.
For those interested in reading Stringfellow, one helpful thing to keep in mind is that among his 15-odd books there are two unofficial “trilogies” that really encapsulate Stringfellow’s life and though. The first of thes consists of An Ethic for Christian and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, Concience and Obedience, and Instead of Death. These three books serve as a statement of Stringfellow’s theology as a whole and present his attempt to deal faithfully and biblically with the realities of America in the twentieth century from the perspective of a proper theology of the principalities and powers. They also reflect his distinctly sacramental and incarnational theology of the word and his perspective on the theological meaning of freedom. All of it superb stuff.
His second trilogy consists of My People is the Enemy, A Second Birthday, and A Simplicity of Faith. This is his “autobiographical” trilogy if you will. The books respectively chronicle his own dealings in his life with the issues of work, illness, and death. My People is the Enemy in particular presents Stringfellow’s own life and work in the tenements of Harlem in the 60s. Never have I read more a more moving and theologically sensitive form of autobiography. It is animated throughout with humility and a form of fragile tenderness that can only be described as true strength. For anyone interested in reading Stringfellow either of these two trilogies are great places to start. That’s where I’m starting anyway.