The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 1

For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.
-John 5:46

I was introduced to Walter Brueggemann by my OT teacher, John Goldingay. I have one other Brueggemann book, that I have thoroughly enjoyed for many years, and that's his First and Second Samuel Commentary, from the Interpretation series. I have heard many people mention Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination, as a beacon for our times. I finally got a copy.

Tim Suttle- two great notes:
  • The call for social action must be rooted in grief first.
  • Prophetic imagination requires a deep personal resonance with the pain of death and the plight of the poor and oppressed of our world.

Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, second edition (2001)

Chapter 1, part 1, The Alternative Community:

Quotes and notes:

  • The contemporary American church is so largely enculturated to the American ethos of consumerism that it has little power to believe or act.
  • The internal cause of such enculturation is our loss of identity through the abandonment of the faith tradition.  Our consumer culture is organized against history.  There is a deprecation of memory and a ridicule of hope, which means everything must be held in the now, either an urgent now or an eternal now.
  • 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 of of enculturation.  This is not a cry for traditionalism but rather a judgement that the church has no business more pressing that the reappropriation of its memory in its full power and authenticity.
  • The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and a perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.
  • ...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 vocation co-opted and domesticated.
  • ...the key word is alternative, and every prophetic person and prophetic community must struggle with that notion.
  • ...every act of a minister who would be prophetic is part of a way of evoking, forming, and reforming an alternative community.  And this applies to every facet and aspect of ministry.
  • ...the dominant culture... is grossly uncritical, cannot tolerate serious and fundamental criticism and will go to great lengths to stop it.
  • Conversely, the dominant culture is a wearied culture, nearly unable to be seriously energized to new promises from God.
  • ...none of us relishes criticism... none of us much relishes energizing either, for that would demand something of us.
  • The task of prophetic ministry is to hold together criticism and energizing.
  • Our faith tradition understands that it is precisely the dialectic of criticising and energizing that can let us be seriously faithful to God.
  • For those of us personally charged with this ministry, we may observe that to be called where this dialectic is maintained is an awesome call.
  • I propose that our understanding of prophecy comes out of the covenantal tradition of Moses.
  • The ministry of Moses... represents a radical break with the social reality of Pharaoh's Egypt.
  • Israel can only be understood in terms of the new call of God and his assertion of an alternative social reality.
  • Prophecy is born precisely in that moment when the emergence of social political reality is so radical and inexplicable that it has nothing less than a theological cause.
  • Theological cause without social political reality is only of interest to a professional religionist and social political reality without theological cause need not concern us here.