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Walter Brueggemann quotes (showing 1-30 of 154)

“Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being.”
Walter Brueggemann
“Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness.”
Walter Brueggemann
“On Generosity

On our own, we conclude:
there is not enough to go around

we are going to run short
of money
of love
of grades
of publications
of sex
of beer
of members
of years
of life

we should seize the day
seize our goods
seize our neighbours goods
because there is not enough to go around

and in the midst of our perceived deficit
you come
you come giving bread in the wilderness
you come giving children at the 11th hour
you come giving homes to exiles
you come giving futures to the shut down
you come giving easter joy to the dead
you come – fleshed in Jesus.

and we watch while
the blind receive their sight
the lame walk
the lepers are cleansed
the deaf hear
the dead are raised
the poor dance and sing

we watch
and we take food we did not grow and
life we did not invent and
future that is gift and gift and gift and
families and neighbours who sustain us
when we did not deserve it.

It dawns on us – late rather than soon-
that you “give food in due season
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

By your giving, break our cycles of imagined scarcity
override our presumed deficits
quiet our anxieties of lack
transform our perceptual field to see
the abundance………mercy upon mercy
blessing upon blessing.

Sink your generosity deep into our lives
that your muchness may expose our false lack
that endlessly receiving we may endlessly give
so that the world may be made Easter new,
without greedy lack, but only wonder,
without coercive need but only love,
without destructive greed but only praise
without aggression and invasiveness….
all things Easter new…..
all around us, toward us and
by us

all things Easter new.

Finish your creation, in wonder, love and praise. Amen.”
Walter Brueggemann
“The prophet engages in futuring fantasy. The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The imagination must come before the implementation. Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing. The same royal consciousness that make it possible to implement anything and everything is the one that shrinks imagination because imagination is a danger. Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.”
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
“Hope, on one hand, is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.”
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
“The cross is the assurance that effective prophetic criticism is done not by an outsider but always by one who must embrace the grief, enter into the death, and know the pain of the criticized one.”
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
“The key players, it turns out, are those who refuse to be credentialed or curbed by traditional modes of power, who understand that the transformative power of truth is not a credible companion for consolidating modes of established power, but that truth characteristically runs beyond the confines of such power.”
Walter Brueggemann, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
“Moses knows that prosperity breeds amnesia.”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance:
“Those who sign on and depart the system of anxious scarcity become the historymakers in the neighborhood.”
Walter Brueggemann, Journey to the Common Good
“Our consumer culture is organized against history. There is a depreciation of memory and a ridicule of hope, which means everything must be held in the now, either an urgent now or an eternal now.”
Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition
“Advent Prayer
In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.
And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.
Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and in this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.
Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our fingertips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.
Amen.”
Walter Brueggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth
“Thus I have come to think that the fourth commandment on sabbath is the most difficult and most urgent of the commandments in our society, because it summons us to intent and conduct that defies the most elemental requirements of a commodity-propelled society that specializes in control and entertainment, bread and circuses … along with anxiety and violence.”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance:
“The first commandment is a declaration that the God of the exodus is unlike all the gods the slaves have known heretofore. This God is not to be confused with or thought parallel to the insatiable gods of imperial productivity. This God is subsequently revealed as a God of mercy, steadfast love, and faithfulness who is committed to covenantal relationships of fidelity (see Exod. 34:6–7).”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance:
“When we live according to our fears and our hates, our lives become small and defensive, lacking the deep, joyous generosity of God. If you find some part of your life where your daily round has grown thin and controlling and resentful, life with God is much, much larger, shattering our little categories of control, permitting us to say that God’s purposes led us well beyond ourselves to live and to forgive, to create life we would not have imagined”
Walter Brueggemann
“Prophetic preaching is dangerous work, not only because it has a subversive edge but because it requires an epistemological break with the assumed world of dominant imagination. This epistemological break makes us aware of our assumptions we have not recognized or reflected upon.”
Walter Brueggemann, The Practice of Prophetic Imagination
“The outcome is to delegitimize and deconstruct the kings in effective ways in order to show that while they occupy the forms of power, they lack the substance of power.”
Walter Brueggemann, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
“At the center of the requirements of the scroll is the provision for “the year of release,” the elimination of debt after seven years (Deut. 15:1–18).5 This teaching requires that at the end of six years, debts that remain unpaid will be cancelled. This most radical teaching intends that the practice of economy shall be subordinated to the well-being of the neighborhood. Social relationships between neighbors—creditors and debtors—are more important and definitional than the economic realities under consideration and there should be no permanent underclass in Israel, so that even the poor are assured wherewithal to participate in the economy in viable ways.”
Walter Brueggemann, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
“In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative. It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance:
“It is there within and among us, for we are ordained of God to be people of hope. It is there by virtue of our being in the image of the promissory God. It is sealed there in the sacrament of baptism. It is dramatized in the Eucharist—“until he come.” It is the structure of every creed that ends by trusting in God’s promises. Hope is the decision to which God invites Israel, a decision against despair, against permanent consignment to chaos (Isa 45:18), oppression, barrenness, and exile.”
Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition
“Here we are, practitioners of memos:     We send e-mail and we receive it,     We copy it and forward it and save it and delete it.     We write to move the data, and                 organize the program,                 and keep people informed—     and know and control and manage.   We write and receive one-dimensional memos,         that are, at best, clear and unambiguous.     And then—in breathtaking ways—you summon us to song.”
Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People
“The same subversion of power by truth is evident in the way in which Luke begins his account of Jesus of Nazareth. Luke is at pains to put his readers on notice that this is no ordinary history. He has an angel anticipate cousin John by saying, “with the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him” (1:17). He has Gabriel declare that “nothing will be impossible with God” (1:37). He offers us an alternative genealogy that refuses the royal recital of Matthew and provides a list of the uncredentialed, rather like Roots by Alex Haley that traces a genealogy that the plantation masters never suspected (Luke 3:23–38).6 In the midst of this playful subversion, Luke has John go public in the empire. He does so by locating the reader amid all the recognized totems of power:”
Walter Brueggemann, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
“It is a measure of our enculturation that the various acts of ministry (for example, counseling, administration, even liturgy) have taken on lives and functions of their own rather than being seen as elements of the one prophetic ministry of formation and reformation of alternative community.”
Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition
“I have come to think that the moment of giving the bread of Eucharist as gift is the quintessential center of the notion of Sabbath rest in Christian tradition. It is gift! We receive in gratitude. Imagine having a sacrament named “thanks”! We are on the receiving end, without accomplishment, achievement, or qualification. It is a gift, and we are grateful! That moment of gift is a peaceable alternative that many who are “weary and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care” receive gladly. The offer of free gift, faithful to Judaism, might let us learn enough to halt the dramatic anti-neighborliness to which our society is madly and uncritically committed.”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance:
“Thus I suggest that prophetic ministry has to do not primarily with addressing specific public crises but with addressing, in season and out of season, the dominant crisis that is enduring and resilient, of having our alternative vocation co-opted and domesticated.”
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
“Jesus knew what we numb ones must always learn again: (a) that weeping must be real because endings are real; and (b) that weeping permits newness. His weeping permits the kingdom to come. Such weeping is a radical criticism, a fearful dismantling because it means the end of all machismo; weeping is something kings rarely do without losing their thrones. Yet the loss of thrones is precisely what is called for in radical criticism.”
Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition
“Pharaoh is clearly a metaphor. He embodies and represents raw, absolute, worldly power. He is, like Pilate after him, a stand-in for the whole of the empire. As the agent of the “empire of force,” he reappears in many different personae.9”
Walter Brueggemann, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
“The Sabbath rest of God is the acknowledgment that God and God’s people in the world are not commodities to be dispatched for endless production and so dispatched, as we used to say, as “hands” in the service of a command economy. Rather they are subjects situated in an economy of neighborliness. All of that is implicit in the reality and exhibit of divine rest.”
Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance:
“It occurs to me that the situation of the church in our society, perhaps the church everywhere always, is entrusted with a truth that is inimical to present power arrangements. The theological crisis in the church—that shows up in preaching and in worship as elsewhere—is that the church has largely colluded with the totalism of the National Security State. Or more broadly, has uncritically colluded with Enlightenment reason that stands behind the National Security State that makes preaching Easter an epistemological impossibility.”
Walter Brueggemann, Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
“The church will not have power to act or believe until it recovers its tradition of faith and permits that tradition to be the primal way out of enculturation. This is not a cry for traditionalism but rather a judgment that the church has no business more pressing than the reappropriation of its memory in its full power and authenticity.”
Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition

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