Walter Brueggemann on Politics

A few weeks ago I linked an interview by Pete Enns with prominent Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann.  Today I want to come back to some comments Brueggemann made with respect to how we as Christians ought to engage with the political issues of the day.  Some money quotes:

So if you love neighbor, you have to ask, “Who is our neighbor?”  And obviously the Bible thinks immigrants are our neighbors, the Bible thinks that our neighbors are people who need some kind of healthcare, the Bible thinks that our neighbors are entitled to good schools and good houses, and so on, and so on…, and love of God means, critically, to critique the worship of idols.  We won’t have agreement on what the idols are, but I think American exceptionalism has become an idol.  So “Make America Great Again” is an idol, the way it’s being parsed.

…I think the place to begin is that the God of the Bible…has commanded us to love God and love neighbor, and we have to ask what now does it mean to love God and what now does it mean to love neighbor….  I think it’s easy to make a case that our society is increasingly treating the neighbor as a threat and not a neighbor, and is increasingly distorting God for the worship of idols.  I don’t think that’s a progressive or a liberal judgment, I think that’s an evangelical judgment, and I believe that’s the conversation we ought to be having.

Regarding the tendency to make an idol of political parties and the political process:

…I think we’ve got to get beneath the slogans and the mantras and talk about human reality on the ground.  So, for example, we shouldn’t be talking ideologically about immigrants, we should be talking about the breaking up of families, that these are real mothers and real fathers and real children and what do you think it feels like to break up a family.  I think we should be not talking ideologically about healthcare delivery, but what we should be talking about is why is it that a guy like I am can count on seeing a good doctor and I got good insurance and I’m not worried about anything, and what it would be like to have my old age ailments and have no coverage and not be able to see a doctor because I can’t afford a doctor.  That is, we’ve got to bring the discussion down to the level of human pain and human suffering and human reality, because what we’re dealing with are real people and not slogans.

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