Engage: Subversion #4

I am looking forward to our final Zoom meeting this Friday, April 28th, at Noon (ET). Here is the link to the meeting.


Meeting ID: 827 8776 7931
Passcode: 014683

Honestly, I do not know how to process what we have read in chapter three, much less the entire journey to the common good Brueggemann has led us on in the book. This is one reason why I keep the book at hand, re-reading it to discover things I have not previously seen, and to savor things I have seen.  This is a “keeper” book for me.

Cutting through all the details, this much is clear: there are transferrable concepts from the biblical text to our time. Brueggemann turns to this in sections IV-VI of chapter three. Here are a few of them that impact me…

(1) his sixfold paradigm is useful in assessing our situation: loss, grief, hope, assurance, contestation, and departure. They help us frame our picture.

(2) his sixfold paradigm leads to the inevitability of “having done with lesser things.” He sums it up through the lens of Jesus, “That [renunciation] has been the summons of Jesus to his people since his first “follow me.” He summoned away from all old regimes into the new regime that he inaugurated.”

(3) the departure motif is mandatory and urgent. Brueggemann writes, “The matter is all the more urgent, I believe, because the immense force of empire continues its lethal enterprise, refusing to notice the failed fabric of social reality all around.”
Imperialism traffics in denial, deflection, and deception–with the mix anesthetizing us to the reality and extent of evil. In so many words, Brueggemann is saying, “Don’t be fooled. Don’t take the gas. Do something!”

(4) Brueggemann describes the needed actiin this way, “What is required now is initiative-taking actions, local and public, that create anew the capacity to sustain human community and the parallel capacity to maintain an ecosystem that honors all of creation.” Using Isaiah 55-66, he shows how these actions are flat-out hard work, met with fierce opposition.

(5) It all comes down to this for Brueggemann: “I believe it is impossible to overstate the defining nature of the empire of force among us, if empire is understood as a political, economic, military, ideological practice of self-security and control.” As such, the necessary work of relinquishing and undertaking must be done.”

He leaves the final question unwritten, but clear!y in view, “Will we be among those doing this necessary work?”

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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