The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 4

The Lord is my strength and my song
And He is become my salvation
He is my God

And I shall prepare Him my heart,
And I shall prepare Him my heart,
And I shall prepare Him my heart.

The Lord, He shall reign
Forever and ever, amen.
The Lord, He shall reign
Forever and ever, amen.
-Exodus XV (Frank Gallio)

Quotes and notes from chapter 1, part 4 of The Prophetic Imagination, by Walter Brueggeman.

Prophetic Energizing
  • It is the task of the prophet to bring to expression the new realities against the more visible ones of the old order.
  • Energizing is closely linked to hope.  We are energized not by that which we already possess but by that which is promised and about to be given.
  • (my notes) The liberal fallacy is to rail and polemicize, without having faith, really believing that something is about to be given.  Egypt says everything has been given and the trap is believing in reforming or rearranging Egypt.
  • (my notes) The prophet speaks against this managing and instead energizes toward a genuine new future that is not a derivative.
  • Three energizing dimensions to this narrative that open up the prophetic imagination:
  1. Embrace the inscrutable darkness.  Pharaoh's heart is hard, but it is Yahweh who hardens it, to bring the empire to an end.  The darkness is mystery and God's odd way to present the possibility of historical freedom.  The energizing is to dare to believe that God is at work in the dark.
  2. The freedom of God, who sees, cares, acts, and is unreasonable.  God decides and declares.  God is for the people, not the powers, the empire, the system or those empowered by it. Knowing who the living, free God is, is energizing.
  3. The name of God becomes our doxology.  The living and free God becomes our song in life and this is energizing.  Prophecy and the prophetic are linked to doxology, which is the expression of thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God, who is free and delivers people through his mercy.  Prophetic is not ideology because it is God who is foremost embraced and worshipped.  Prophecy separated from doxological worship becomes lifeless ideology.
    • The energy of Moses doxology includes: The speaking of a new name that redefines all social perception.  A review of an unlikely history of inversion in which imperial reality is nullified.  An asking for the enactment of freedom in dance, freedom in free bodies that Pharaoh could no longer dominate.  A culmination in enthronement, the assertion of the one reality that Egypt could not permit : "The Lord will reign forever and ever" (Exod. 15:18).
  • Such doxologies are always polemical; the unstated counter-theme, only whispered, is always "and not Pharaoh".
  • It is only a poem, and we might say rightly that singing a song does not change reality.  However, we must not say that with too much conviction.
  • Doxology is the ultimate challenge to the language of managed reality, and it alone is the universe of discourse in which energy is possible.
  • How can the language of doxology be practiced in the empire?
  • Only where there is doxology is there any emergence of compassion, for doxology cuts through the ideology that pretends to be a given.  Only where there is doxology can there be justice, for such songs transfigure fear into energy.
Notes about the alternative community of Moses:
  1. The alternative life is lived in this very particular historical and historicizing community.
  2. The community criticizes and energizes by its special memories that embrace discontinuity and genuine breaks from imperial reality.
  3. This community is gathered around the memories, knows it is defined by and is at the disposal of God who as yet is unco-opted and uncontained by the empire.


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