Daily Riches: Religion and the Status Quo (Walter Brueggemann and Krista Tippett)

“… at least one third of the book of Psalms are songs or prayers of sadness and loss and grief and upset, so that very much Old Testament experience of faith is having stuff taken away from us, and what’s so interesting is that in the institutional church with the lectionary and liturgies the whole business of lamentations has been screened out [‘because we don’t know what to do with those depressing passages’*] …because [with] consumer capitalism you just go from triumph to triumph, from well-being to ease to prosperity, and you never have any brokenness.” Walter Brueggemann, with *Krista Tippet

“Faith that permits [lamentation] …redresses the distribution of power between the two parties, so that the petitionary party is taken seriously and the God who is addressed is newly engaged in the crisis in a way that puts God at risk. As the lesser, petitionary party (the psalm speaker) is legitimated, so the unmitigated supremacy of the greater party (God) is questioned, and God is made available to the petitioner. [cf. Job] The basis for the conclusion that the petitioner is taken seriously and legitimately granted power in the relation is that the speech of the petitioner is heard, valued, and transmitted as serious speech. …What happens when appreciation of the lament as a form of speech and faith is lost, as I think it is largely lost in contemporary usage? What happens when the speech forms that redress power distribution have been silenced and eliminated? The answer, I believe, is that a theological monopoly is reinforced, docility and submissiveness are engendered, and the outcome in terms of social practice is to reinforce and consolidate the political-economic monopoly of the status quo.” Brueggemann

“Teach your daughters to wail;
teach one another how to lament.”
Jeremiah 9:20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have “sadness, loss, grief and upset” been screened out of your church experience? your conversations? your prayers?
  • Is your faith characterized by “docility and submissiveness?” Is that good?
  • Does your religion, church or faith help perpetuate the “monopoly of the status quo?”
  • Who stands to benefit if your faith causes you to support the status quo? Who stands to lose?

Abba, I cry our for help, but no one hears me. I protest, but there is no justice. You have plunged my path into darkness.

For More:  The Psalms: The Life of Faith, ed. Patrick Miller


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s