Retiring Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars…

Aged Sorry We're ClosedI have been writing at Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars for a little over two years now. Sadly, I have not been able to write nearly as much as I had desired to at the blog’s inception. As often happens, life just got way too busy. To read scholarly works and interact with them on the blog just became too much. I have very often been forced to choose one or the other, and oftentimes both of these had to take a back seat in order that I might deal with more pressing matters.

Additionally, while I have and continue to learn from liberation and postcolonial theologians (largely the intended emphasis of this blog) I have other interests as well (i.e. biblical studies, philosophy and contemporary church issues). Being that I chose to give this blog such a specific theme and purpose, I would only write about those topics which coincided with the blog’s stated agenda. This limited my output significantly.

Finally, my intention with this blog was predominantly to listen and learn; to question yes, but not so much to boldly express my own convictions. While I will never fully abandon my methodology of listening and humbly questioning, the fact of the matter is that I do have opinions, and I have a strong desire to voice them from time to time. But again, due to the fact that presenting my own opinions was not really in line with the purpose statement of this blog, I (for the most part) have abstained from offering them up.

So then, being that Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars has had too narrow a focus to mesh well with my ever broadening life situations, interests and desires, and as a result, has not been utilized very often, I have concluded that it is time for me to make a decision with regard to my blogging future. The way I see it, I have two choices. I could totally revamp this blog by changing its purposes, goals and content. Or, I could leave this blog as is, retire it, and begin afresh with an entirely new project. I have opted for the latter.

My new blog is called Crosscurrents (bear with me as it is still under construction).

One thing that I am hoping for is that I will be able to post content more frequently. In order that I might accomplish this goal, I am looking for other bloggers who might be interested in either offering up the occasional post, or perhaps even becoming regular contributors. If you think you might be interested, tell me in the comment section below, email me, or tweet at me.

I hope, regardless, that my readers will join me in my new and latest endeavor. God bless.

P.S. I will leave this blog up, even though it is retired, just in case anyone found my posts helpful and would like to refer back to them.

Brueggemann on the Conditionality of the Covenant

Walter Brueggemann“Jeremiah dares to say that Yahweh’s connection to Judah is not unconditional. There are limits beyond which this fidelity will not go, and Judah has now reached the limit. Yahweh is prepared to give Judah over to the consequences of its own choices. The outcome is the termination of the relation so celebrated in vv. 1-2. This relation with God is not a guaranteed state, but a relation that depends on responsiveness. When the relation is neglected and grows cold, Yahweh will terminate. What courage, what nerve it must have taken to recite such a poem which announces that Judah’s status as Yahweh’s partner is now over!

The convergence of religious fickleness, political whoredom, and covenantal disregard shows that the poet is engaged in an acute critical analysis. Yahweh is not a God who is slotted in religious categories, but Yahweh is always related to a social system of values, policies, and conduct. When Yahweh is rejected, covenantal values disintegrate and life becomes a frantic pursuit of self-securing, Judah is therefore on a course to death. That death may ostensibly come at the hands of the empire, but in fact it is Yahweh who will finally relinquish his precious partner. There are limits. Yahweh has tried and tried (v. 30), but now it is enough. The God of high hopes (v. 21) is now the God of pained disillusionment.

The poet struggles here, as frequently, with the incredible obtuseness of this people. Not only is there an abandonment of God, but covenantal sensitivities have so collapsed that Israel is unable to recognize the quality and shape of its actions. In the face of the data, so clear to the poet, Judah continues to maintain innocence (vv. 23, 35). It is as though Judah lives in a land of pretense in which its actions are not connected to anything, in which actions have no outcome.”

Exile and Homecoming, page 39 (Jeremiah 2:14-37)  

Brueggemann on Israel’s Forgetfulness and Its Consequences

Walter Brueggemann“In Jeremiah 2:6,8 we are told what Israel did wrong. ‘They did not say…’ The recital of Yahweh’s story was no longer on their lips. They disregarded their shaping memory. Where the story of Yahweh is forgotten, Israel disregards its peculiar covenantal way in the world, and soon loses its reason for being. Vs. 6-7 recite the credo that they ‘did not say,’ that has been forgotten. That credo is dominated by the word ‘land': land of Egypt, land of deserts and pits, land of drought and darkness, land that none passes through, plentiful land, defiled land, heritage. Israel’s whole life is about land. Yahweh’s primal gift is land. Jeremiah is concerned with the sure-coming destruction, exile, and land loss. This passage suggests that where the story of the land is lost, the loss of the land itself will soon follow.

When the phrase ‘did not say’ is repeated a second time (v.8), we are given evidence of the result of such forgetting. Where there is such amnesia, one is not surprised that derivative requirements of humanness erode. Where the creed is distorted, public life becomes skewed. The entire leadership structure of the community is included in the indictment: priests, judges, rulers, prophets – civic and religious leadership. To ‘know Yahweh’ (v. 8; cf. 22:16) is to practice justice. Where Yahweh is not known, justice is not embraced. The poet is not engaged in moralizing. Rather, he discerned the collapse of public institutions. Priests no longer provide serious leadership. Judges forget their central commitment to justice. Rulers forget that power is a trust from Yahweh. Prophets forget that God has summoned them…The community is unfaithful. It has lost its foundational point of reference.”

Exile and Homecoming, pages 34-35 (Jeremiah 2:1-13) 

Brueggemann on Yahweh’s Governance

Walter Brueggemann“The issue turns on whether Yahweh really governs, because that governance is always slow, always invisible, always capable of other explanation. The question surfaces in the midst of the well-being of Jerusalem: will the city come to exile (cf. 1:)? Or will it be safe, as the ideology claimed, because of reliance on old covenantal promises? Will those traditional promises override the commission of ‘pluck up and tear down’ as Hananiah urged (ch. 28)? The answer is not known in advance. The question is posed, and answered, at deep cost to Jeremiah, who must articulate the risky problem of Yahweh’s governance. The promise of solidarity in the midst of such a quarrel strikes one as a weak resource. It struck Jeremiah so as well. But it is all that is ever offered Jeremiah, save capitulation to the ideology. And it is all that is offered to the community around the text. The assurances provided the ‘truth-speakers’ against ideology are always thin and precarious, because the managers of the ideology seem to monopolize all the big, powerful promises. The unequal quarrel is underway in the text, hardly a fair fight.”

Exile and Homecoming, page 31 (Jeremiah 1:17-19) 

Brueggemann on the Sin of Judah

Walter Brueggemann“The trigger for the historical process of ‘plucking up and tearing down’ is not political or economic. It is theological and moral. Judah has done evil…The decisive evil of Judah which will lead to the end of all old arrangements of power and security, is the abandonment of Yahweh. Everything hangs on the first commandment concerning exclusive loyalty to Yahweh (Exod. 20:3). The burning of incense and worshipping other gods is not a critique of ‘religious behavior’. It is, rather, a critique of a fundamental shift in social practice and loyalty. Appeal to ‘other gods’ is Jerusalem’s attempt to secure its own existence by mobilizing divine power without submitting to Yahweh’s sovereignty. Judah has preferred to trust in ‘the works of their own hands’. In that way, Judah imagines it can have security while retaining control over its own destiny. The prophetic alternative insists that security only comes by submission, which entails yielding control.

The sin of Judah is an effort at theological, political, historical, autonomy, the nullification of Yahweh’s governance of public life. That problem of social autonomy is a contemporary issue, but it is not only a problem of modernity. It is a recurring temptation for every concentration of power to imagine itself self-sufficient and therefore free to order its life for its own purposes without the requirements of Yahweh (cf. Isa. 10:13-14; 47:8; Ezek. 28:2; 9; 29:3). As we shall see, in Jeremiah it is the disregard and nullification of Yahweh’s sovereign will (expressed in social practice, religious activity and policy formation) that regularly evoke the dismantling to come.”

Exile and homecoming, page 29 (Jeremiah 1:11-16)   

Brueggemann on Jeremiah’s Call

Walter Brueggemann“It is no wonder that the prophet resists, for who wants to bear such a burdensome and unwelcome word! But the word overrules its bearer. The message requires the messenger. What follows in the book of Jeremiah is a study of how this word of harsh endings and amazing beginnings has its way with specificity. In this unit the person of the prophet is not a subject but an object of God’s overriding verbs. As the person of the prophet is subject  to God’s sovereign action, so also is the history of Jerusalem, of Judah and finally of Babylon. That sovereign action, to which v. 3 has already given notice, revolves around the inescapable reality of exile. Because there is this particular exile into which and out of which God’s people must go and come, there must be this prophet to speak Judah into exile and out again.”

Exile and Homecoming, pages 27-27 (Jeremiah 1:4-10) 

Brueggemann on the Intent and Nature of Jeremiah

Walter Brueggemann“…these verses (1:2-3) on exile (golah) have as their counterpart Jer. 52:27-34. These together form an envelope at the beginning and end of the book, in order to assert that this entire literary tradition is preoccupied with exile, with its source in Yahweh and its embodiment in Israel, Yahweh’s people. The working out of Yahweh’s word as Jeremiah’s word has as its purpose and intent the ending of Jerusalem, the dismantling of that royal world, the termination of the recital of kings in Jerusalem. It is as though in this terse preface we are given the entire plot to the book of Jeremiah. The whole book as it stands is a literary-theological disclosure of the unraveling of a royal word, of the disintegration of a stable universe of public order and public confidence. The man Jeremiah is thrust into the middle of that dismantling to bring the deathliness of Jerusalem to speech. It is as though the die is cast even before the person of the prophet appears. The kings are named who are the helpless, unwitting recipients of this terminating action. Most importantly, however, it is the speech of Yahweh that evokes the end. The known world is not ending in spite of Yahweh’s governance, as though Yahweh were weak. Rather, it is ending precisely because of Yahweh’s governance. What may appear to be weakness and failure on the part of Yahweh is in fact Yahweh’s policy.”

Exile and Homecoming, pages 22-23 (Jeremiah 1:1-3)