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Miniblog #90: In Appreciation of Walter Brueggemann

by Carson T. Clark on October 30, 2011

It is hard to distinguish between true, redemptive, spiritually and emotionally healthy biblical Christianity and its doctrinal and culturally fundamentalist distortions when you have been conditioned by your home environment to embrace the distortions as true. – Reginald McLelland 11.Reg is an Anglican, professor emeritus of philosophy at Covenant College, something of a long-distance mentor of mine, and was an early member of the University Church in Athens, GA. He wrote this in an email a few weeks ago and it has deeply resonated with me since.

This quote succinctly captured a struggle I’ve had with Christianity for quite some time. Deep within I always knew that something was terribly askew. There was this ever-present and growing sense that things were not as they should be. If you’ve experienced this, you know exactly what I mean. One of the places where this sense was most manifest was the Old Testament. The churches in which I was raised made it seem like little more than a children’s story complete with talking animals while the two Bible colleges I attended made it seem bland, untextured, even more bizarre, detached from the New Testament, and utterly inapplicable. I confess that for many years I genuinely loathed the Old Testament because I confused its distortion that I was taught with its true form. I can offer no greater praise of Walter Brueggemann, then, than to say that he made me love the true OT text.22.I’d be remiss to not mention that Peter Enns and John Walton have had a similar effect. This past Friday I got to hear him lecture at Baylor. The symposium was about wisdom. It seemed to me that he was the sole speaker there who truly grasped its nature. Whereas everyone else I heard tried to describe or prescribe wisdom, he showed his audience how to live wisely by teaching them God’s cultural, religious, and economic subversion found throughout the OT. Suffice to say, I’m a bigger fan than ever.

In the below video Brueggemann talks about pain, artistry, and overcoming the culture of denial. It’s a powerful little video and a great introduction for those who’ve not read his work.

  • Anonymous

    “Whereas everyone else I heard tried to describe or prescribe wisdom, he showed his audience how to live wisely by teaching them God’s cultural, religious, and economic subversion found throughout the OT. ”

    Is there any way to listen to the lecture he gave? This idea of subversion has has been a big theme for me lately and I’d love to hear what he shared.

  • JennyHodge

    The more I hear of this man, the more I realize I should start reading his work…

  • Kristin

    I think a friend of yours on facebook suggested the book The Prophetic Imagination as a good starter book for Brueggeman. For someone who wants to stop seriously disliking/avoiding the OT, do you think that is a good starting place?

  • Pingback: Last Week’s Reading: on Writers, Mega-Churches, and the Culture of Denial « New Ways Forward

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