Brueggeman on Imperialism and the Church

Below is a portion of The Prophetic Imagination in which Walter Brueggemann compares our cultural context with that of Pharaoh and Solomon. Why Solomon?, you may think. He asserts that Solomon mimicked Pharaoh in his kingdom building and thus erased the counter-community Moses sought to build over against the Egyptians. As a result, Brueggemann sees the following imperial characteristics. Read with an eye for our own (church) situation:

“Passion as the capacity and readiness to care, to suffer, to die, and to feel is the enemy of imperial reality. Imperial economics is designed to keep people satiated so that  they do  not notice. Its politics is intended to block out the cries of the denied ones. Its religion is to be an opiate so that no one discerns misery alive in the heart of God. Pharaoh, the passive king in the block universe, in the land without revolution or change or history or promise or hope, is the model king for a world that never changes from generation to generation. That same fixed, closed universe is what every king yearns for – even Solomon in all his splendor.

This model of royal consciousness does not require too much interpretation to be seen as a characterization of our own cultural situation…It takes little imagination to see ourselves in this same royal tradition.

Ourselves in an economics of affluence in which we are so well off that pain is not noticed and we can eat our way around it.

Ourselves in a politics of oppression in which the cries of the marginal are not heard or dismissed as the noises of kooks and traitors.

Ourselves in a religion of immanence and accessibility, in which God is so present to us that his abrasiveness, his absence, his banishment are not noticed, and the problem is reduced to psychology.

Perhaps you are like me, so enmeshed in this reality that another way is nearly unthinkable.”

– Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, 35-36.

Sound familiar?


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