Walter Brueggemann on speaking truth to power

In an interview with Jonathan Merritt on the book, “Truth Speaks to Power,” scholar Walter Brueggemann discusses the countercultural message in holy scripture:

RNS: Some American Christians are now political and cultural power brokers. Is this dangerous?

WB: It is very seductive for all of us. And I suppose it has been the seduction of the Jesus movement since Constantine, when Christians gained access to power and have loved having it. I think the collusion of the church with political order in almost any society causes the church to lose its edge and have failure of nerve about the gospel that has been entrusted to it.

RNS: What does it look like for the average American Christian to speak truth to power in everyday life?

WB: We begin by talking about bodily pain and acknowledging our own. Then we notice that other people have bodily pain and we ask, “Why is that? What is causing that?” The way you hear that from people in our society is to talk about how stressed we are or how we do not have any time for anything. This is because of scheduled production and consumption that has been set by the market ideology.

There is a little text in late Isaiah that says, “Why do you labor for that which does not satisfy?” We labor and labor and labor for stuff that never satisfies us. The market ideology is now the new form of imperial power and many of us, without any critical reflection, have signed onto that and organized our lives in that way so we do not have any time, energy or capacity for the things that are rightly important to us. So, I think what I would want a modern congregation to reflect on are the causes of stress, lack of time and anything that is devouring our human-ness.

For the rest of the interview with Brueggemann, please visit the Religion News Service here.

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