Confronting The Powers

Walter Wink is broadly considered one of the most important social and political theologians of the 20th century. His series of books on the "powers" -- Naming the Powers, Unmasking the Powers, and Engaging the Powers -- unpacks the spiritual significance of political and societal institutions (the biblical "principalities and powers") and their role in systemic injustice. His wife, June Keener Wink, is a lifelong dancer and potter. For 28 years, she and Walter led seminars combining artistic expression with biblical exegesis, with the objective of human transformation. They traveled the world together, leading workshops and spreading the message of nonviolence in South Africa, East and West Germany, Chile, South Korea, Ireland, and elsewhere.

In 2006, doctors diagnosed Walter with dementia. He and June stopped leading workshops in 2008. They live in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, where freelance writer Steve Holt spoke with them this summer for Sojourners.

Steve Holt: What were some of the significant events along your spiritual journey that have shaped who you are today?

Walter Wink: There were two major experiences that I underwent that were transformative. The first one was when I was a sophomore in college and I [received] the gift of the Holy Spirit. During that experience a voice said, "I'm going to send you to the ends of the earth." And God sure did. I was just a kid, and I’m embarrassed to even talk about that. I had a Pentecostal experience when I was a liberal Methodist! That shaped every aspect of my spiritual life from that point on.

The second was in San Francisco, when I was able to work on the historical Jesus with the Guild for Psychological Studies. That was really brilliant exegetical work that opened me up to art.

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Sojourners Magazine December 2010
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