Daily Riches: Church – Where ‘Never Is Heard a Discouraging Word’ (Walter Brueggemann)

“One loss that results from the absence of lament is the loss of genuine covenant interaction, since the second party to the covenant (the petitioner) has become voiceless or has a voice that is permitted to speak only praise and doxology. Where lament is absent, covenant comes into being only as a celebration of joy and well-being. Or in political categories, the greater party is surrounded by subjects who are always ‘yes-men and women’ from whom ‘never is heard a discouraging word.’ Since such a celebrative, consenting silence does not square with reality, covenant minus lament is finally a practice of denial, cover-up, and pretense, which sanctions social control. …We can draw a suggestive analogy from this understanding of the infant/mother relationship for our study of the lament. Where there is lament, the believer is able to take initiative with God and so develop over against God the ego-strength that is necessary for responsible faith. But where the capacity to initiate lament is absent, one is left only with praise and doxology. God then is omnipotent, always to be praised. …The absence of lament makes a religion of coercive obedience the only possibility. I do not suggest that biblical faith be reduced to psychological categories, but I find this parallel suggestive. It suggests that the God who evokes and responds to lament is neither omnipotent in any conventional sense nor surrounded by docile reactors. Rather, this God is like a mother who dreams with this infant, that the infant may some day grow into a responsible, mature covenant partner who can enter into serious communion and conversation. In such … there comes genuine obedience, which is not a contrived need to please, but a genuine, yielding commitment. What is at issue here, as Calvin understood so well, is a true understanding of the human self but, at the same time, a radical discernment of this God who is capable of and willing to be respondent and not only initiator.” Walter Brueggemann

“I will look to see what he will say to me.” Habakkuk 2:1

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is your relationship with God limited to praise?
  • Do you, does your church, practice “a consenting silence” that “sanctions social control?”
  • Can you imagine God wants you not only for a respondent but an “initiator?”

Abba, help me be the partner you desire.

For More: The Psalms by Patrick Miller, editor

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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.”

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.”