Wednesday with Brueggemann: Do you notice?

Lake Michigan Sunrise (2012)

Wednesday with Brueggemann
Do you notice?

We are in process of deciding, to whom does the present belong? On most days, we imagine, the present belongs to the empire. When we think that, we succumb in resignation, because then we conclude that everything is settled and nothing can be changed. On some days, however, we hear this voice which crowds in on the empire. That odd voice, the voice of the gospel, asserts, “I am doing a new thing. Do you notice?” When we notice, we are strangely free. We sing, we dance, we care—with abandonment—because we are no longer intimidated. We get our strength back. We get our priorities right. We declare God’s praise and reclaim the present for the God to whom it belongs We are liberated to live in the present where God’s newness is at work, undaunted, undiminished, unintimidated, free, powerful, joyous. It is enough to trust the poem and to find the present made new for God’s purpose.

• Brueggemann, Walter, A Gospel of Hope (p. 16)

18 thoughts on “Wednesday with Brueggemann: Do you notice?

  1. …Then I noticed, along a tree line in the distance, four trees that stood taller than the rest. They looked like Ents looking out over their forest….

    Then I looked away… and when I looked back the four trees were gone…. Ents indeed…


  2. Yes, this morning’s events were mind-boggling. To quote Tony Burke, the Leader of Opposition Business:

    “What is happening right now is the Government have decided that this place has fallen apart so completely that they are dissolving the Parliament for the day entirely.

    “There will be no Question Time today because they don’t know who their ministers are.

    “There will be no Question Time today because they don’t know who their Prime Minister is.

    “There will be no Question Time today because those opposite have stopped governing.”

    And Adam Bandt, the sole member of the Australian Greens to hold a seat in the Lower House:

    “A 12 yo girl reportedly set herself on fire on Nauru yesterday. Australia is burning, in winter. We’re in drought. But Libs & Nats shut down Parl. Just so they can indulge themselves & avoid the real issues.”


  3. I actually believe in “non-human forces”, too; intelligent, powerful, active, and some malignant. I have no means of fighting them, or even knowing exactly how they operate or what strings they pull, so it’s a good thing Jesus defeated them on the cross, and routed them in his resurrection. The most I can do is make a concerted effort to not feed them; they are after all trolls of a sort, and depend for much of their efficacy on sowing confusion.


  4. I’m closer to Blake than to the Alex Jones crowd, although I do believe we are being herded towards a unified, algorithmic hegemony by non-human forces, which will do their level best to erase the memory of Jesus Christ from the minds of men as anything except an inept predecessor.

    Trump plays into their plans. I don’t for a moment believe he is either a godsend or a palliative for the Empire, but his deep unfashionability and casual narcissism has created a climate of panic which will herd the mostly apolitical American people back into the soothing arms of the ‘right’ people, the ‘smart” people, the ‘compassionate’ people just to ratchet the noise down.

    I hope to be gone by then.


  5. US worries about their Government, take a look at the mess which is happening in Australia today.
    We don’t have a workable government today and no Prime Minister.
    We may be at the bottom of the world but rest assured our citizens are shaking their heads in disbelief!
    I doubt it matters to the rest of the world but for us watching TV in Australia are appalled that we, again, seeing a change of leadership.
    It appears that our parliament is being adjourned while the mess is sorted out.


  6. When Blake refers to “Empire,” I know he is invoking his own mythopoetic vision of the metaphysical tyranny of Noboddady, the Old Testament god that Blake believed was actually an ignorant and pernicious demiurge who had trapped this world in the illusion of tortured physicality, suffering, and death; when Brueggeman refers to “empire,” I suspect he is thinking of many of the same things Blake was, only interpreted within a more traditional Christian theistic framework; when you, Mule, use the same word, I can’t help but think that you mean something more like “Deep State/Globalists.”


  7. one wonders how much of Wm. Blake’s visions were owed to the use of opium, or of hashish, or of mental illness, OR simply, his great genius. (?)

    it is certain he was one of many poetic peers who were lavish in their attempted poetic descriptions of ‘visions’.


  8. Let William Blake have his say –

    The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their stations;
    The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrappèd up;
    The bones of death, the cov’ring clay, the sinews shrunk and dry’d
    Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing, awakening,
    Spring like redeemèd captives, when their bonds and bars are burst

    Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field,
    Let him look up into the heavens and laugh in the bright air;
    Let the enchainèd soul, shut up in darkness and in sighing,
    Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years,
    Rise and look out; his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are open;
    And let his wife and children return from the oppressor’s scourge.
    They look behind at every step, and believe it is a dream,
    Singing: “The Sun has left his blackness, and has found a fresher morning,
    And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear and cloudless night;
    For Empire is no more, and now the Lion and Wolf shall cease.” ‘

    From “America, a Prophecy”


  9. “It is not surprising that many people report an awareness of God in such settings.”

    timeless in our human experience . . . .

    “I have felt
    A presence that disturbs me with the joy
    Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. ”

    (Wm. Wordsworth, from ‘Tintern Abbey’ written in 1798)


  10. From Fr Stephen Freeman’s latest post, co-incidentally

    The same is true among the laity. What is often experienced at first as “boredom” (the sameness of the liturgy or the interminable character of the Psalms or Canon in some services) is nothing more than a description of something that exists for the nurture of the nous rather than the emotions and reasoning. Imagine walking with someone through a Redwood forest, or along a quiet beach and being told, “I’m bored.” In truth, the forest and the beach are quite common examples of noetic experiences that have yet to be eradicated or destroyed by our culture. It is not surprising that many people report an awareness of God in such settings.

    It is not incorrect to describe our relationship with the passions as an addiction. The fathers described the passion-driven life as a constant swing between pain and pleasure. We experience boredom as a pain and seek to replace it with pleasure, which will only yield more pain later on. This movement, as it dominates our experience, draws us away from the opportunity to grow in noetic experience. As such, it tears us away from God other than as an entertaining idea or a concept to be considered.

    The Empire would stagger and fall were enough of us satisfied to set quietly on a log at the beach or in a grove of trees for four hours. Of course, if that happened, the Empire would would find some way to restrict it and charge for access,


  11. I was sitting in my car in an hour-long backup on a highway due to a brush fire nearby, just seething, wanting to get where I wanted to go, when I just began looking around at nature. Then I noticed, along a tree line in the distance, four trees that stood taller than the rest. They looked like Ents looking out over their forest.

    I would’ve missed that had it not been for the backup.


  12. “I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”
    — Anne Lamott


  13. I recently went on a back packing trip with my oldest and youngest son. Now when you are on the path carrying your pack there is the tendency to look at the ground about 10 feet in front of you and trudge along. By doing that you miss what’s all around you…. the brilliant green of the fern on the forest floor against a grove of younger saplings, the bright orange fungus growing on a dead tree, the group of white birch or the cluster of fir around a fast flowing stream. Sometimes you just need to pick your head up and realize the beauty and peacefulness around you.


  14. Up on the hill
    lumberjacks axing everything in sight
    Down along the stream
    crimson flowers burn
    -Chin do ba


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