Walter Bruegemann on Covenant As Subversive Paradigm

I feel more than a little bit stupid that I have never seen this article before. Here I am writing my doctoral dissertation on the relevance of covenant in the 21st century church and wondering why I should even bother now, given that Bruegemann has just said pretty much everything I want to say in eight pages.

I remember feeling this way about seventeen years ago when I was trying to articulate my personal theology and came across Emerson’s essay “The OverSoul.” After I read it I felt mighty dumb for having believed that I had ever had one original theological idea. I started divinity school and people would ask me for my Big Statement of Faith, you know, and I just wanted to hand out “The OverSoul” and say, “What he said.”

I still feel that much that way about my BFF Waldo’s essay although my theological ideas have been greatly influenced by becoming a Christian shortly after discovering it. You might wonder why. All I can say is that it was not a conversion experience so much as it was a response to my direct experience of God’s presence in my life and in the world.

I believe that creating a covenant is a way a community can respond to their shared experience of God’s reality and presence.

And I keep reading because frankly kids, I’m terrified to start the writing process!! But I’m presenting a chapter in class next week, so it’s time to put my fingers to the keyboard and produce some thoughts of my very own.


8 Replies to “Walter Bruegemann on Covenant As Subversive Paradigm”

  1. Walter Brueggemann is my hero. That’s just the way it is.

    Though many of the Transcendentalists are my heroes, too. Emerson and Whitman and Alcott.

  2. I had *exactly* the same experience, found a paper that pretty much summed up my PhD plan. I took it to one of my committee members and he talked me through it. Don’t try to do this alone, that’s what committees are for!

  3. What a wonderful affirmation that your thoughts on the question are indeed relevant! His text written in the early 1980’s surely can be a bouncing off point and expanded with your insights for the early 21st century. The world is a bit different over the course of almost 30 years. How different is it from the context in which he wrote this article and the context in which you are writing your paper? I imagine there is much to be discussed here and new grounds to be covered given our current global situations that were unthinkable in 1980. It isn’t a matter of it all being said before but rather how does it apply to today’s conditions. BLessings, [Thanks to you and other commenters for your lovely support. – PB]

  4. when I write and I get freaked out, I remember the wise words of Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird: the key is sh*tty first drafts.

    Always works for my sermons 🙂


  5. I can sympathize all too well. I have even gotten to the point where once I get an idea for a paper I start to become afraid of reading additional materials, because I might have to face the fact that it ain’t original after all. My entire paper may be summarized in an off-handed statement by Raymond Brown. Bastard.

    The good news is that if your statements are also being reflected in the giants of the day, then maybe you’re onto something… it sucks that your ideas were already stated by them… but the glass half full view is that you are thinking in the same way that they are thinking and they didn’t do too badly…

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