Tag Archives: Prophetic Imagination

Exclusion of Hope & Emergence of Amazement

While on vacation, I actually finished the Walter Bruggeman book that I’ve been into for the past couple months (The Prophetic Imagination). Like I mentioned before, it’s can be pretty dense at times due to Bruggeman’s deep deep scholarship. Now that I’m all the way through it, I’ve noticed that the first half is the really heady part, and the second half is a lot more informal, even to the extent of being peppered with colloquialisms.

In Chapter 4, “Prophetic Energizing and the Emergence of Amazement” Bruggeman’s overarching idea for the chapter is that it’s

the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God.

I found myself making a ton of margin notes as I read through, and so I thought those notes would make for a strong post here at the blog. I really hate seeing people quoted out of context, so I’ll throw in as big a chunk of Bruggie’s text as necessary, and then include the stuff I wrote in the margins.

In a section about how the royal consciousness excludes hope, Bruggeman asserts:

In concrete terms, technological, agricultural, and other social advances are impeded in aristocratic monarchies because the taxes, tithes, tribute, tolls, rents, and confiscations drain all the peasants’ resources and rationale for creativity; only the technology of warfare advances at a more rapid pace because that contributes to the expansion and control of the king and his entourage.

This may indeed be true for aristocratic monarchies. But how does this statement apply to my duty to bring prophetic energizing to my surrounding culture? How does this apply to the royal consciousness of my day, the MTV-driven, O.C.-addicted, celebreality-informed, consumerism-ensnared culture that surrounds me and the students I work with? Almost inarguably, that’s where the hope and newness from God most desperately needs to indwell.

I’m gonna break these Prophetic Imagination notes into multiple posts. So look for the next one soon.

Alternative

Reading my first Walter Bruggeman book , I’ve come across a great quote that fits the questioning spirit of this blog. Well, the ideally questioning spirit. Sometimes I notice that posts end on a note bearing more resemblance to an answer than a question. Anyway, without further ado, this snippet from The Prophetic Imagination:

The alternative consciousness to be nurtured, on one hand, serves to criticize in dismantling the dominant consciousness. … On the other hand, that alternative consciousness to be nurtured serves to energize persons and communities by its promise of another time and situation toward which the community of faith may move. …

In thinking this way, the key word is alternative and every prophetic minister and prophetic community must engage in a struggle with that notion. Thus, alternative to what? In what ways alternative? How radically alternative? Finally, is there a thinkable alternative that will avoid domestication? And, quite concretely, how does one present and act out alternatives in a community of faith which on the whole does not understand that there are any alternatives or is not prepared to embrace such if they come along?

The Prophetic Imagination, page 4

Could come up with quite a few posts’ worth of musings here, I suppose.

  • How can I carry out my work –ultimately a work of reconciling– in a fashion alternative to the dominant culture in need of said reconciling?
  • What aspects of the dominant culture beg an alternative? Are some aspects more than others urgently lacking an alternative?
  • Are the unhealthy aspects of the local dominant culture different than those of the overall (national? hemispherical?) dominant culture?
  • Within the local dominant culture, what is different for the students directly under my care, or for their age group?
  • Are the local or the larger aspects more important to promptly address? Are they addressed in the same way?
  • Can I offer alternatives piecemeal? Or must I require blanket acceptance on the part of members of the dominant culture?
  • Can piecemeal acceptance of the alternative grow into full acceptance? Is such a progression scriptural? Practical? Tolerable?
  • Does my alternative approach change with dominant culture? Or are there things about my approach that will forever be inherently alternative?