A Radical Form of Criticism

I ran across this quote on another blog. It’s definitely deeper than your average beach reading, but it’s worth your time. What do you think?

… Jesus in his solidarity with the marginal ones is moved to compassion. Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humaness. In the arrangement of “lawfulness” in Jesus’ time, as in the ancient empire of Pharaoh, the one unpermitted quality of relation was compassion. Empires are never built or maintained on the basis of compassion. The norms of law (social control) are never accommodated to persons, but persons are accommodated to the norms. Otherwise the norms will collapse and with them the whole power arrangement. Thus the compassion of Jesus is to be understood not simply as a personal emotional reaction but as a public criticism in which he dares to act upon the concern against the entire numbness of his social context.

(From The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann)

2 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Ian Durias April 18, 2008

    I hear the revolutionary tone of the Sermon On The Mount in the above thoughts by Brueggemann. “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you that…”

    Thanks for sharing this, Becky!

    Here’s some more Non-Beach Reading Brueggeman. Grin.

    Article: The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity

    Link: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=533

  2. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Amber Van Schooneveld April 18, 2008

    Thanks, Becky. That quote really puts into context just how radical the social justice God called for in the Old Testament was (justice through systems such as gleaning, tithing, Sabbath Years, Year of Jubilee). When contrasted when the empires of old, God’s law was clearly concerned with the “least” person–not empire building.

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