To differently construct

Walter Bruggeman, 88, is at home in the German evangelical pietism that he transcends. Some teachers helped, named in the Preface to Tenacious Solidarity: Biblical Provocations on Race, Religion, Climate, and the Economy: “This sequence of teachers taught me not only a passion for good learning but the awareness that the world in front of us is a constructed world that can be differently constructed.”

In The Prophetic Imagination he illustrated how the biblical tradition helps reframe the present moment “so that we can re-experience the social realities that are right in front of us, from a different angle.” Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) spurred his imagination, the key (says Brueggemann) to his biblical “interpretative work.” From the Preface to Tenacious Solidiarity: I have been able to engage in both the “suspicious” work of ideological criticism and indispensable work of “retrieval” that features alternative discernment, alternative thinking, and finally alternative policy.”

Our Brueggemann Tenacious Solidarity scavenger hunt led us first to Robert Lifton (yesterday’s post). Two other sources sharpened Brueggemann’s lens for applying biblical faith to current events. First, in The Technological Society, Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) helped Bruggemann see the intended and unintended impact of technology and how the technique (technê) of totalisms ancient (Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, et al) and modern create sameness of thought and loyalty.

Second, in Seeing Like a State, James C. Scott (born 1936) taught Brueggemann that a “quantifying uniformity… inescapably causes a dreadful loss of metis. … The term refers to cunning intuition about how to engage with and manage the irrepressible hiddenness of worldly reality that refuses ordered thinking.” (Think Miriam, Deborah, Esther, et al.) Chapter 1 of Tenacious Solidarity is entitled “Totalized Techne vs. Neighborly Metis.”

Tomorrrow: Moving beyond the danger of “psychic numbness.”

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