Lord Have Mercy: Unlearning Biblical Violence
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
1M ago
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez ?? on Unsplash A long while ago I had lunch with a new friend who was a distinguished Jewish scholar of religion. In our lunch conversation we talked some about our common concern about Israel and the land of promise. And then he said, “I wish all Palestinians were dead.” He had no sense of irony or embarrassment about his statement.  I was shocked and dumbfounded. That conversation has led me to reflect on the Biblical testimony to herem, the Biblical notion that what belongs to God must be offered as a burnt offering with nothing held back in reserve from Go ..read more
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From “Rag-Tag” to “Holy”
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
1M ago
Photo by Savvas Kalimeris on Unsplash The crowd that eagerly departed Pharaoh’s Egypt at the behest of YHWH was a mixed lot: A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds (Exodus 12:38). A.  That crowd is termed “Israel” in the text, but the label is an anachronism, because that community still had to be formed. Before it was formed into a community with a God-given identity, the crowd had different markings: The crowd lacked any cohesion or identity. Its participants had no pedigree or qualification. What they had in common was the rec ..read more
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Peddlers Who Prey on Our Prayers
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
2M ago
Photo by Joel Durkee on Unsplash For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing: to the one group a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is qualified for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many, but as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God, we are speaking in Christ before God. II Corinthains 2:15-17 As is often the case with the Apostle Paul, he finds it necessary to make a defense of his apostolic ministry in II Corinthians 2. He in ..read more
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Growing in Grace
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
2M ago
Photo by Chad Stembridge on Unsplash Matthew 5:17-19 is a signature expression of the primary accents of Matthew’s gospel: Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks on of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called the greatest in t ..read more
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Mapping as Power
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
2M ago
Photo by GeoJango Maps on Unsplash Laura Trethewey is an environmental and ocean journalist. In The Deepest Map: The High-Stakes Race to Chart the World’s Oceans (2023) she reports that she enlisted on a mapping cruise on the Nautilus. Her book proceeds in a chatty, informal way to give an account of her experiences and observations on board the Nautilus. Early on, she quotes the journalist, Stephen Hall: A map always presages some form of exploitation (p. 5). And indeed, her use of “high-stakes” in her title suggests that mapping the bottom of the oceans constitutes, among competitive nation ..read more
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We the People
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
2M ago
Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash The Gospel of Luke places an acute social conflict at the center of his gospel narrative. In the episode of “the cleansing of the temple,” Luke juxtaposes the two parties to the conflict that runs through the narrative (Luke 19:45-48): -The chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people. These are the urban elite who clustered around the temple, symbol of religious and political unity and tax-collecting apparatus. versus -The people, those who were “spellbound” by the teaching of Jesus. It is a very old, long-running conflict between elites who feared chang ..read more
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When Water Does Not Win
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
3M ago
Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash Long ago we had water in our basement. Seeking help, we happened on a wise old man who came to help us. He began with us didactically: “Water always wins.” He meant that water is relentless; it cannot be controlled or eliminated. It can be channeled, but it will have a decisive say. In the end he nicely channeled the water away from our house and we had a dry basement. These wise words, “Water always wins,” came to my mind a few Sundays ago in church when one of our two favorite soloists, Dave, sang “Eternal Father Strong to Save:”* Eternal father, strong to ..read more
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The Slow Speed of Comfort?
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
3M ago
Photo by Ryan Johnston on Unsplash My good and wise friend, Peter Block, has observed that two seductions of our contemporary monetized society are “speed” (go faster) and “scale” (go bigger). I have had this observation in purview as I read The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (2010). Carr observes that a turn from print to electronic communication inescapably delivers some trade-offs, some of which are laudable. As his argument unfolds, however, it becomes clear that he is especially alert to the losses that are mandated in such a trade-off. He observes th ..read more
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Unshakeable Systems?!?
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
3M ago
Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash On a recent Sunday morning before church, I looked at the notes strewn across my desk. Among them was this sentence by China Mieville, A Spectre History: On the Communist Manifesto (2022) 73: The Manifesto is clear that history is a long sequence of the upending and overturning of seemingly unshakeable systems. In the next sentences Mieville applies this observation of Marx and Engel to capitalism: Capitalism may be inevitable. But we have no grounds for claiming this a priori. That is, in this judgment not even capitalism can be taken as “unshakeable. That l ..read more
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Jubilee Recovered
Church Anew | Walter Bruggemann
by Walter Brueggemann
3M ago
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash The provision for a Jubilee Year of debt cancellation is without a doubt the most radical commandment in the Torah of the Old Testament. That commandment summons and authorizes Israel to “proclaim liberty” in the fiftieth year (Leviticus 25:10). It provides for the return of property to those who inhabited it originally, property that has been forfeited through the rough and tumble of the economy. This long exposition of restoration asserts that the land “belongs to YHWH” (v. 23), and that Israelites “belong to YHWH” and may not be sold as slaves for unpaid debt ..read more
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