Death Will Have No Dominion: The Passing of Walter Wink

As many of you know, Walter Wink passed away on May 10th.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've put Wink's seminal work regarding the principalities and powers to good use. I've been deeply blessed, intellectually and spiritually by his work. Thank you Walter.

Another important contribution of Wink is his work in naming and analyzing the Myth of Redemptive Violence--the myth that violence can save us, the myth that sits behind our national mythologies. An essay by Wink regarding the Myth of Redemptive Violence can be read here

For those wanting more about Wink's life and work I commend this remembrance and reflection of Bill Wylie-Kellermann over at Sojourners.
Ephesians 6.10-12
Finally, my brothers and sisters, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

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12 thoughts on “Death Will Have No Dominion: The Passing of Walter Wink”

  1. Thank you, Dr. Beck.  Walter Wink will continue to be remembered as long as those whom he influenced (such as yourself) carry on his work/message.  By the way, I think I remembered how I came to discover ET.  One Lenten season a few years ago, I was troubled by the way Judas is portrayed in the biblical narrative as the ultimate villain, and especially, the way he ended up.  I was questioning whether someone couldn't have shown him some mercy.  I think that a search turned up one of your articles on scapegoating.  That, and a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber (love her too!)

    "But get this: Bible study is autobiographical. The scholar is engaged.
    The Word is to be lived, to be found in our lives, to be made flesh."

    This is beautiful.

    'The Myth of Redemptive Violence' -- wow.  So much to contemplate in that essay.  Well-worth the read.  All of my son's peers (pre-adolescent age) are deep into violent war games (e.g., Call of Duty).  The rating on all of these games is M, and I have held my ground in refusing to purchase any simulated war game for my son.  When he is a guest in his friends' homes, I instruct him that he is not to play such games.  He continues to push for the permission to play these games.  I feel that I am the only parent on the planet, at this point, who sees anything wrong with these games (and their children -- some as young as elementary age -- playing them on a regular basis).  The cartoons are bad enough; I get that.  My son watches enough TV and is not unfamiliar with the good guy/bad guy, hero/villain dichotomy.

    In the analysis of any conflict, it is always much simpler to reduce the situation to a man-against-man, or man-against-god/nature problem.  Man (or woman) conflicted within him/herself is always some part of all conflict, however legitimate, imho.

    On a related note, my Friday night movie choice was 'Iron Lady.'  Holy cow.  Political power is won at such a high price.  I felt sad for her in old age, when she became vulnerable and frail.  Meryl Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher was amazing.  Anyhoo...blessings and ~peace~ to you.

  2. Richard,

    A half a dozen years ago in Ottawa, I sat across from Wink at lunch.  We spoke of the blindness toward and idolatry of violence (violation) in each and all of us together.  We examined "when reviled, he reviled not" as high grace.  For me, even as he occasionally groped for a word (he was in the early stages of dementia), it was a blessing to be received by him.  As we left the table, he said: "Hospitality, my brother.  Hospitality."  Hard to forget, even in my most inhospitable moments.

    Blessings this Lord's day,


  3. Richard,

    Thank you for the link to The Myth of Redemptive Violence--a paradigm-puncturing perspective which I intend to reread till it's fully embedded in my understanding. I'm not sure how anyone could gain traction insisting that a point of view be understood before a person can do cultural commentary (that will be taken seriously). Forgive the metaphor, but the essay "blew me away." 

    Since I don't do social media, I'll be emailing link a link of the essay to friends and family.  

    Thank you again!


  4.  What an insightful essay. Riveting. We are naive indeed if we don't think all this death and destruction in movies and videogames don't affect us. It has already corrupted us mightily us by the time we're teens ... and yet, a couple making love is considered inappropriate for the same audience. Hypocritical bullshit. Or, I guess we just don't care. The problem, as always, is wanting to remain in a low, comfortable state of consciousness that we would regret the day we learn better. "Boys will be boys" is the stupidest phrase I've ever heard.

    This reminds me: videogames today are SO much more violent than before. When I was growing up, I had a Sega Genesis, and I thought of them as cartoons you could control. Today, you look at the new releases of XBox 360 games, and the cover art of most of these games have a steroid-wracked ultra-macho guy with futuristic/military gear and a gigantic gun, and an M rating. The rest of them feature a pre-modern guy with a sword/bloodthirsty dragon/demon, and have an M rating. (aside: I admit that the popularity somewhat weakens my point, but still, the concentration of M-rated games today is far higher than it used to be, and increasingly they are interchangeable). The XBox 360 is hardly anything BUT "redemptive violence." And the PS3 games lag only slightly behind in this. It's just really bad now.

  5.  My aside was going to be: the popularity of fighting games, especially ones like Mortal Kombat. Still, Street Fighter is pretty innocent compared to Gears of War or Grand Theft Auto ... which people are inevitably letting their kids play.

  6. Many scientists (physicists, biologists, chemists, astronomers) will tell you point-blank that violence and chaos (entropy) are the natural order of things.  It is how the Universe began, through which it has evolved, and how it continues to operate.  Certainly all of this was well underway before people ever emerged on the scene.  Wink's essay reminds me of the Naturalists of the Nineteenth Century, who waxed poetic about the woods, apparently blissfully unaware of tornadoes and earthquakes.  A Thomas Kincaid painting, and not a tenement in sight.  I seriously doubt that anyone today under 50 has ever even heard of Popeye. 

    Where is Justice?  Why only and ever only Mercy?  Were we created with really miss-matched moral wiring?  Who is responsible for this?  What is the penalty?  Sadly overlooked by Wink's overly simplistic essay is the reality so often missing from his pacifistic POV:  The whole Biblical narrative, including the life and death of Jesus Christ, is a mythology of violence.  Salvation only comes through violence as ordained and often instigated by God, from Abraham through St. John, from Genesis through to Revelation.  "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins", with sins themselves being the focal point of violence.  Somebody had to die a gory death, and you will also surely die.  That too is a children's Sunday School sermon.

  7. I'm well under 50, and I've heard of (and seen) Popeye. It was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen on television. I hated it.

    Jesus resided as a nonviolent person in a very violent world. "The one who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." I want to be the same way.

    I actually do believe there is a being some call Satan (and his countless demons) influencing human affairs. Besides my knowledge of many manifestations of the (parasitic) paranormal, it just seems too much to believe that man is this way when left to his own devices.

    You're a very intelligent person, but please do come over to the highest ideal of compassion you can bring yourself to. It makes the better. The story of the Bible from old to new testaments is that of a God increasingly revealed as merciful ... which is the same thing as justice, really. The problems with religion are rooted in this mindset of "but still, violence is okay." Mercy above justice. The Garden of Eden was the earthly ideal ... and it was totally non-violent, lacking strife.

  8. Sam,

    Kincaid's sentimentality over against God's brutality?  It seems to me that you are looking only at the surface presentation of the text and reading it through a penal substitutionary atonement lens.  Jesus had to die?  Who says?  His death is proof of our angry, violent hearts, not God's.  The resurrection is demonstration of God's victory over our fearful, threatened, violent hearts. Justice as retribution?  The biblical notion of justice, practiced by Jesus, is doing good and healing those oppressed of the Devil.  Jesus told the Pharisees to go learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."  Is it possible that when St. Paul wrote "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins" he was being sarcastic?  That's how I chose to read it. 

    Blessings and Peace!  

  9. Thanks George (and Andrew T.).  I admit I do not know any other way to read the Bible other than by taking the words contextually.  And I do not sense any sarcasm in Paul's words, since they fit neatly with many Biblical stories and events.  It is a problem (?) I doubt I shall ever overcome.  Beyond St. Paul, the idea of a blood sacrifice or offering comes through loud and clear in any reading of the Scriptures.  It goes all the way back to Cain and Able.  I do not know how to see it any other way. 

    Justice and Mercy are NOT the same thing, or Jesus surely would not have made the point of distinction in the first place.  As so often is the case here at ET, I am left with the feeling that Dr. Beck and many of his followers have never really experienced true evil perpetrated directly at them.  Since I have lived long enough to understand that this probably cannot be true -- then I am often left wondering how people can come to such interpretative and subjective conclusions when reading what to me is fairly explicit and straightforward text.  I understand that it must be much like beauty -- it is in the eye of the beholder.

  10. Thank you for this Richard. The sad news of Walter wink's passing had escaped me, but reading the news here hit me like a bolt to the chest. He remains one of the few 'game changers' for me personally, someone's whose writing irrevocably shifted the gears in my head and altered the lens through which I see the working of the world. As a gracious and prophetic voice, and a grace filled human whose life and actions bore out the courage of his convictions, he will be sorely missed. 

    Death will have no dominion.

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