Two new books coming by Walter Brueggemann. I've been reading this Old Testament prophet for 30 years, and he is as stimulating, infuriating, rewarding and necessary as ever for those called to preach beyond the horizons of their own vision, and who therefore want their Old Testament theology "thickly textured". The phrase is Brueggemann's, and refers to the complexity of both the text and the lived experience of those of us who come to the Old Testament world millenia later, to discern and live towards the vision of God and the worldd that lies at the heart of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament gospel.
Out of Babylon (coming in November from Abingdon - see here) is the kind of book the church, emergent or submergent, now needs to read, consider and then do the hard work of asking what is the good news for Babylon today. Here's the publisher's description of what Brueggemann is about:
It was the center of learning, commerce, wealth, and religion. Devoted to materialism, extravagance, luxury, and the pursuit of sensual pleasure, it was a privileged society. But, there was also injustice, poverty, and oppression. It was the great and ancient Babylon—the center of the universe. And now we find Babylon redux today in Western society. Consumer capitalism, a never-ending cycle of working and buying, a sea of choices produced with little regard to life or resources, societal violence, marginalized and excluded people, a world headed toward climactic calamity. Where are the prophets—the Jeremiahs—to lead the way out of the gated communities of overindulgence, the high rises of environmental disaster, and the darkness at the core of an apostate consumer society?
It costs money to read Brueggemann! His production rate means at least a couple of volumes a year. Much of his work is gathered essays, addresses and other occasional papers. But there are very few repetitions, and I've never read a Brueggemann chapter, commentary or essay without being as stated above, stimulated, infuriated or rewarded! So Disruptive Grace, a major collection of his recent pieces due in January from Fortress will be a straightforward click on the pre-order button. Here's the blurb
Walter Brueggemann has been one of the leading voices in Hebrew Bible interpretation for decades; his landmark works in Old Testament theology have inspired and informed a generation of students, scholars, and preachers. These chapters gather his recent addresses and essays, never published before, drawn from all three parts of the Hebrew Bible—Torah, prophets, and writings—and addressing the role of the Hebrew canon in the life of the church.
Brueggemann turns his critical erudition to those practices—prophecy, lament, prayer, faithful imagination, and a holy economics—that alone may usher in a humane and peaceful future for our cities and our world, in defiance of the most ruthless aspects of capitalism, the arrogance of militarism, and the disciplines of the national security state.
"Holy economics" seems like a recent theme triggered by recent events in global markets. Not so. The first two books of Brueggemann I read were The Land, and Living toward a Vision. They are both over 30 years old. Both are to do with just practices, critique of status quo, analysis of power - its use and abuse, and a searching exegesis of texts that call in question the prejudiced fundamentalism of consumer capitalism and the imperial pretensions of economy, business and global ambition. Reading Brueggemann is a cultural and moral interrogation of the way things are in the world, and the interrogator's questions are formulated in conversation with that most disruptive of texts - the Bible.