Sunday, April 08, 2012

April 8, 2012: Hope within History by Walter Brueggemann

Just got done reading "Hope within History" by Walter Brueggemann. It is a compendium of five discussion papers written by Brueggemann probing five specific cases in which the hope of God is affirmed or discerned in the processes of historical interaction.

The Exodus Narrative as Israel's Articulation of Faith Development (in the context of Egyptian slavery)

Critique of ideology: The present power arrangements in the empire are under judgement because they are obtained at the price of freedom and justice.
  • Israel knows that they live in a contrived world
  • The contrivance is intentional to serve special interests at the expense of others
  • Because this world is a contrivance it can be deconstructed if one has the courage and the wits to do so
  • The deconstructor is Yahweh. The Israelite shaped by the narrative is not a helpless victim but has an ally so powerful the dismantling of the empire is assured
  • The liturgical life of Israel is deconstruction
When pain is processed privately no social power is generated. This is why regimes have laws against assembly.

When pain is expressed publicly there is a release of social imagination leading to hope for the future. Torah is practice and implementation of social imagination.

The Pharaohs of the world encourage privatization for that leads to abdication and resignation in the public arena. It permits conformity in public administration

Righteousness as Power for Life
From the tradition of Moses faith transformation may be understood:
  1. Critique the dominant ideology
  2. Public embrace of pain
  3. Release of social imagination
Forming of the righteous person in a community of righteousness, responsive to God and attentive to neighbor. Righteousness is characteristically promissory, anticipatory, and eschatological. such a notion is under no illusion about the character of of things as they are, but it is never willing to settle for how the world is currently arranged. That is; the righteous one is capable of hope, intensely believes that things can and will be different from the way they are now and boldly acts on that basis and toward that hope.

The more developed faith is:
  1. More faithfully theonomous
  2. More intentionally addressed to the community
  3. More trustingly open to the future
The book of Isaiah can be broken into three parts: 1-39 (Critique), 40-55 Embrace Pain, and 56-66 Release Imagination.

Isaiah 5:16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness (a social practice of righteousness impinges upon the character of God).

Blessed are the History Makers
Where pain becomes visible we are close to the history making process.

To what extent is the official take on events a make believe story designed positively to protect the monopoly and negatively to make the pain less visible and less dangerous. That is; a closed version of history.

III.3 History makers have the capacity and courage to disclose the human processes. The dominant voices want to close the human process in the interest of order and protection of the monopoly.

Karl Popper - history is written by the winners

Jeremiah articulates a profound sense of anguish, pathos and incongruity ... he has not succumbed to the dominant definitions of reality.

Jeremiah 7:5-7

The history maker must be attentive to:
  1. social ideology
  2. Self-deception of propaganda
  3. Narcotic effect of religion
  4. Management of moral persuasion in the interest of social monopoly
A paradigm for history makers
  1. A profound sense of anguish, ...
  2. Confidence in the moral coherence of the world
  3. Assertion of the raw sovereignty of God
  4. Capacity for discerning social analysis and criticism
  5. Bold conviction about an alternative possibility that goes under the name of hope
Who are Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan "It is enough"

Carlos Fuentes - Reality is not the product of an ideological phantasm. It is the result of history.
  • There is no living present with a dead past
  • There is no living present without the imagination of a better world
History is the painful process of remembering, forgiving, forgetting, and moving on

Living Toward a Vision
The OT is fundamentally a literature of hope. The dominant intellectual tradition of the West is Hellenistic philosophy, that is; science, order, discernment,, understanding, and mastery and control. Order and Hope are not easily reconcilable as when in juxtaposition there is dissonance.

"Behold" .. the days are coming and the hope for SACistan is the establishment of a new social order which will embody peace, justice, freedom, equity and well being.

Isaiah 19:23-25 when Egypt, Assyria, and Israel are as brothers

Hope keeps the present system open and provisional. The present is precarious. The present cannot be absolutized. The present cannot be taken too seriously for it will change.

Hope is an immense human act which reminds us that no system of power or knowledge can finally grasp what is true.

Hope does not appear among the ...
  • managers of the status quo
  • intellectuals supporting the managers
  • oppressed ... those without voice
Hope comes from those who publicly process their pain and move through it and beyond

The Power of Hope:
  1. The function of hope is to keep the present open and provisional
  2. The natural setting of hope is among those who grieve and process it in community
  3. The enemies of hope include muteness, fulfillment and technique
The evidence of despair is:
  1. The action of terrorists
  2. The posture of conformity among those who refuse to question but are ready to embrace established official truth, both political and religious
  3. The temptation to absolutize in which critical capacity is routinely impossible in public life

Will Our Faith Have Children?
Will we be open enough, vulnerable enough, risking enough, that God may give us a future that we do not plan or control or contrive?

One of the metaphors used in Isaiah 54 when announcing against an atmosphere of despair at being in captivity for so long .. a poet uses the phrase ... the barren one will have children. Connotes that from having no future Israel will one day be a fruitful society once again.

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