Archives For Jeremiah

My ministry context revolves around those who, by and large, have sold out to the quest for the “American Dream.” Consumerism and materialism are matters of course, so embedded within the culture they are barely noticed by those who have lived here for any length of time.

Material poverty is relatively low (and well-hidden) yet poverty of time is high. Schedules are packed with work and “play,” both of which attempt to further or reflect the “dream.” As a result, financial margin is low. Many households are living on the brink personal financial collapse. Continue Reading…


The keystone of Karl Polany’s The Great Transformation is what he calls the “double movement” (loc. 3,442). Polanyi explains that at the same time that laissez-faire was encouraging rapid market expansion in all directions, a countermovement to protect citizens from the effects of this self-regulating market (SRM) expansion was also taking place. This double movement was an attempt to resist the disembedded nature of the SRM utopia. On some level, even the staunchest market liberals intuited a need for limitations and restrictions that would protect people from the market’s potential ills (see Fred Block’s comments in the Introduction at loc. 459 and following). Polanyi holds that it was this tension, in the form of the double movement, that allowed SRM to move so quickly from theory to reality in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This got me thinking about other “double movements.” Where else do we see almost paradoxical tensions providing the basis for the actualization of things that could otherwise never be? Continue Reading…

Brueggemann closes the Introduction of his commentary on the first half of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1-25: To Pluck Up, To Tear Down) by writing,

The text does not need to be applied to our situation. Rather, our situation needs to be submitted to the text for a fresh discernment (17, emphasis his).

What it "meant" has incredible power to "mean" now. It meant then that Yahweh would work a powerful, savage, pathos-filled purpose with that people, and it still means that that purpose is at work among us. It meant that Yahweh could grieve a terrible ending, and it still means we face terrible endings over which Yahweh grieves. It meant that Yahweh had the resilient power to work a newness among the displaced, and it still means that Yahweh's resilient power is at work in such displacements. It meant and means that the prideful empire, the pitiful royal leadership, the self-serving religionists, the cynical forces in society, cannot have their way, for history with Yahweh is about another intention. To be sure, the meaning we receive from the text is nuanced very differently from its early "meant." Our meaning is transmitted through our Enlightenment modes of scientific and rational autonomy. We cannot so easily ascribe the shape of the historical process to a single agent. . . . Nonetheless, this textual tradition in its anguish and in its buoyancy witness to an inescapable hovering of God that is oddly sovereign in ways that outdistance our desperate modernity. Poetic anguish, lyrical expectation, metaphorical openness, and imaginative ambiguity are ways in which sovereign hurt and fidelity are mediated to us. This powerful mediating shocks our intellectual self-confidence and invites us to reengage life with courage, awe, and submissiveness (18-19).