Bill Wylie-Kellermann is a retired Methodist pastor, nonviolent community activist, teacher, and author. His next book is forthcoming this summer: Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection (Cascade, 2021).

Posts By This Author

Shadow, Mirror, and Mime

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 06-01-1992
The drug powers are consumerism not gone awry but carried to its deadly conclusion.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness. —Ephesians 6:12

William Stringfellow, the theologian who may be justly credited with reviving in this country a theology of the principalities and powers, claimed to be first put onto them by his friends and legal clients in Harlem who experienced, among other things, the mafia and its network of dealers as a predatory force invading their families and neighborhoods. His years of lucid reflection began in a certain sense with their intuitive theological street wisdom.

It is thereby all the more remarkable that in the churches' struggle against drugs there has been such meager theological reflection. Indeed the notorious frustration and substantial failure of the church in confronting the drug problem, so-called, may be partially rooted in this fundamental shortcoming: the failure to comprehend drugs biblically; that is, as numbered among the principalities and powers.

The officially sponsored "Just Say No" approach—and its churchly equivalents—effectively masks the character of the drug powers. While intimating resistance ("say no"), it first reduces the struggle to ("just") an individual exchange, an illegal street-level deal. The principality in its economic, political, cultural, and above all spiritual aspects remains hidden and is given a free hand to go about its deadly business.

Because the church's approach is firstly (and rightly) pastoral, the individualist temptation predominates. It is, however, especially pastoral care that requires the fullest comprehension of the powers.

A principality, whatever its particular form and variety, is a living reality, distinguishable from human and other organic life. William Stringfellow, Free in Obedience

A Gift of Voice

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 08-01-1991

On the road together

The Machinery Of War

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 04-01-1991

Technology and the powers that in-dwell


by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 01-01-1991

Light to the powers

Discerning the Angel of Detroit

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 10-01-1989

The Spirits and Powers at Work in One City: A Parable for Our Time

A Confessing Church in America?

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 08-01-1989
A Time of Discernment in the Community of Faith

Spirits of the Age

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 05-01-1988
Walter Wink's Unmasking of Powers

Apologist of Power

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 03-01-1987

The Long Shadow of Reinhold Niebuhr's Christian Realism

Wise as Serpents, Gentle as Doves

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 02-01-1986

Examining Jesus' response to surveillance.

A Parable of Integrity

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 12-01-1985

Bill Stringfellow and the Word of God.

O Holy Nightmare

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 12-01-1985

Incarnation and apocalypse.

The Word in a Very Small Room

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 11-01-1985

Celebrating Advent in a prison cell.

In the Boldness of the Spirit

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 05-01-1985

Fellowship and risk before the authorities.

Freed to Follow

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 04-01-1985

An Easter celebration of resurrection and healing.

A Confusion Before the Cross

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 02-01-1985

Confronting temptation.

A Subversive Calendar of the Heart

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 01-01-1985

Inspiration for public witness.

Against All Odds

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 04-01-1984

In the disarmament movement, history is more than meets the eye.

To Stir Up God's Good Trouble

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 03-01-1984

John Wesley and the Methodist revival movement.

Barbed Wire and Beyond

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 05-01-1983

A theology of trespass

The Hospitality of God

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann 04-01-1983

The theological and historical meaning of Christian sanctuary