Saturday 5 May 2007

The practice of creation

“It is widely held that creation became a crucial claim of Israel’s faith in exile, when Gen. 1:1-2:4a is commonly dated. This setting for creation faith suggests that affirmations of creation as an ordered, reliable arena of generosity is a treasured counter to the disordered experience of chaos in exile. If this critical judgment is accepted, creation then is an ‘enactment,’ done in worship, in order to resist the negation of the world in exile. As a consequence, creation is not to be understood as a theory or as an intellectual, speculative notion, but as a concrete life-or-death discipline and practice, whereby the peculiar claims of Yahweh were mediated in and to Israel.”

—Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), p. 533.


Anonymous said...

Creation continues as does worship in and through the ordinary and extraordinary and the extraordinary in and through the ordinary. The Incarnation is a continuous redeeming presence in the Church and world.

The maiden said...

What a lovely insight--from both Brueggeman and dimlamp!

Anonymous said...

Yes. But what does it mean?

Paul Buckley said...

I confess that I don't find the quotation ideally clear. But my antennae go up whenever any writer says that something isn't to be understood as x but rather as y. Often enough I'm moved to wonder, "Why not both?" I begin to suspect a reductionism in the making.

Why (in the case at hand) can't creation be both something that happened (better: something that Yahweh did) and something remembered liturgically to "resist the negation of the world in exile" and mediate "the peculiar claims of Yahweh." Or perhaps I simply don't know what Brueggemann means by creation "as a theory or as an intellectual, speculative notion."

Speaking of clarity, if it were in my power, I'd make every preacher and aspiring theologian read Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" once yearly:

Anonymous said...

What happens to, and where is "creation" when you go into the state of dreamless deep sleep---and when your meat-body and everything that you currently identify with dies?

If you really look at "creation" in and of itself it is vast and terrifying klik-klak death machine---all forms disintegrate and disappear. A machine that is compeletly indifferent to the well-being or survival of any and every form that spontaneously appears.

On the other hand all of this "creation" arises or floats in an infinitely radiant sea of Conscious Light---"creation" is thus literally a light show.

Thom Stark said...



I appreciate your questions, and your concern is legitimate. However, Bruggemann is not denying that God is Creator, nor that the cosmos is his creation. Bruggemann is speaking to us within the context of the modern scientific worldview, and he is reminding us that the Jews who carried on the tradition of God as Creator did not do so out of a concern to speak theoretically in a way that answers our contemporary questions. Far from providing a reductionistic account of creation, Bruggemann is warning us away from reducing the biblical doctrine of creation to a scientific formula, and reminding us, in a way that only Bruggemann seems capable of doing, that the doctrine of creation is political. That is to say, what we (the people of God) believe about God and the world is not something separate from what we believe about ourselves in relationship to the existing social order.


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