Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Those Who Would Change the Wind

Walter Brueggemann

1933 -

Old Testament Theologian, Educator

"Our consumer culture is organized against history. There is a depreciation of memory and a ridicule of hope, which means everything must be held in the now, either an urgent now or an eternal now. Either way, a community rooted in energizing memories and summoned by radical hopes is a curiosity and a threat in such a culture. When we suffer from amnesia every form of serious authority for faith is in question, and we live unauthorized lives of faith and practice unauthorized ministries."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mark Thiessen Nation, says of Professor Brueggemann, "I imagine there is no Scripture scholar in America who sells more books or informs more sermons. And he adds:"A famous American preacher once declared, at a conference on preaching, that if there was only one book that every preacher should have in his or her possession, it should be Walter Brueggemann's The Message of the Psalms."

As with many, perhaps all things, we all tend to glom onto ideas and premises that suit our purpose. It is a rare intellect which seeks to rearrange ideas to see where they lead!

If the sole intent of Walter Brueggemann is to admonish society against the the "idolotry" of consumerism, he's right.

But there are some points that need thought. First, our consumer culture is not organized against history -- in fact, man's historial drive to accumulate more than needed for survival is well documented. And, therefore, we need to understand this behavior so that we can better understand its proper role in the affairs of man.

For, except as the planet begins to die, where collecting more than one needs will be impossible, consumerism behavior will likely continue as long as man has a place in the physical universe. And even in the throes of the planet's last days, man will try to accumulate just to survive, let alone sit on a heap of excess.

Second, since Dr. Brueggemann sells books (58 at last count) one can only conclude: 1) he figures he's selling just exactly the right amount of books so as not to unwittingly contribute to a consumer culture, or 2) some things that are sold are intrinsically excluded from the evil of consumerism. Note: I quit buying the books on the Rapture because they became to me blatantly commercial rather than religious.

If we define consumerism as gathering more than we need, which is our nature, let us not deny our nature, rather let us work to rationalize and control our behavior within acceptable limits. Otherwise, how can we give to those less needy.

Those who would imagine 1) a world pefectly balanced between material availability and creature need and 2) a humankind perfectly attuned to sameness, are talking about a world never achieved to now. And not likely to be achlieved as long as God bestows us of free will.

Why? Because, we are not in Heaven!

Man was put on an earth that changes directions requiring man to change directions. When Katrina hit, if all there was was what we need to meet our own needs, how then would there be anything to share with those in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, or here in Texas or over there in Turkey or China or Indonesia whose meager material things were snatched up in an instant at the behest of a raging planet.

If we have enough material to tithe and and at the same time to take care of our creature needs, doesn't it stand to reason we have more than we need for creature needs. Put another way, how many starving peoples shell out 10% of what they simply do not have to tithe!

No. Let's not blast consumerism, let us blast greed. Let us extol sharing from those who have more. And let us look for wisdom and not vindication for our own favorite conclusions -- for they might just be premature and more self-serving than righteous.

And when I read to my Grandson the part about every preacher needing a Brueggeman "Psalms" at his side, he said, "Better he had the Bible." But what does an eleven-year old kid know about such matters?