Walter Brueggemann’s 19 Thesis: or, what he’s thinking right now about things.
(Walter is an old testament theologian of the post-liberal/yale school mentality if that means anything to you.)
1) Everyone lives by a script.
2) We get scripted through normal nurture and socialization.
3) The dominant script of our society is that of technological-therapeutic-mulitarist-consumerism.
4) This script promises safety and happiness.
5) This script has failed.
6) The health of our society depends on moving beyond this script, but doesn’t want to.
7) [The task of Christian] Ministry must de-script this dominant script.
8) This task is accomplished thru alternative scripting, or the funding of a counter imagination.
9) This alternative script is funded by the scripture and tradition of the Church.
10) This alternative script is about the Triune God.
11) This alternative script is not monolithic, total, complete, but it is rather a rag-tag, disjunctive collection hinting at a hidden God.
12) This rag-tag script can’t be smoothed out or domesticated (not even by systematic theologies/ians).
13) This script invites adherent of text to quarrel with each other.
14) The entree into this alternative script is Baptism.
15) The nurture/socialization of this counter script is the work of ministry.
16) Most of us are ambiguous about this alternative script. That is, we really want both scripts and vacillate between them.
17) The space of ambivalence toward scripts is the arena of the Spirit.
18) Ministry is the manager of this ambivalence.
19) The work of ministry is necessary because no one else but the church (and synagogue) is willing/able to enter this open of ambivalence.
Other memorable ideas:
-Concerning violence in the Old Testament, Brueggemann says that “God is a recovering practitioner of violence.” By this he means that God used to think violence was a good idea, but then gave up on it. However, like all addicts, He has relapses. Of which the cross is either the final deliverance, or another relapse.
-Concerning faith and knowledge: “We all have a craving for certitude, but the gospel is all about fidelity.” By this he means that certitude is an epistemological category while fidelity is a relational one. And the way of the Cross is to depart from our certitude, to die to our answers/desires/scripts.
There is also much to say about the scripture, scripts, and the imagination, but I’ll put that in the next post.