A few decades ago, Fortress Press published The Prophetic Imagination by Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann. Whether The Prophetic Imagination or The Land was the very first ever writing of Brueggemann's I read I cannot recall, but throughout all these years both books have kept places of honor and prominence on my bookshelves, in my heart, in (and out of) my mind. Last week from Wednesday, 24 March through Saturday, 27 March Point Loma Nazarene University sponsored a conference focusing on a range of possible ways of Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination.
Psalm 85, with its assurance of justice, an essential for a shalom-filled world and its assurance of health in the land, framed the conference:
You once favored, LORD, your land, restored the good fortune of Jacob.
You forgave the guilt of your people, pardoned all their sins. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath, turned back your burning anger.
Restore us once more, God our savior; abandon your wrath against us.
Will you be angry with us forever, drag out your anger for all generations?
Please give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you.
Show us, LORD, your love; grant us your salvation.
I will listen for the word of God; surely the LORD will proclaim peace To his people, to the faithful, to those who trust in him.
Near indeed is salvation for the loyal; prosperity will fill our land.
Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
The LORD will surely grant abundance; our land will yield its increase.
Prosperity will march before the Lord, and good fortune will follow behind.
...and John August Swanson's vibrant depiction of Psalm 85 illustrated the focus of the Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination Conference. Closely in accord with Brueggemann's book and in alignment with much of the writing he has published since then, conference goals included: helping all of us in the church and as the church learn to critique dominant culture and society through a lens of God's call for just, righteous and holy living; acknowledging our share of responsibility for and complicity with the currently less-than pristine condition of the natural and the humanly built environments; an ultimately life-enabling "refusing to be consoled" by glib, easy observations and rationalizations as in a scripturally informed lifestyle grief becomes a precondition of joy; finally, daily living as a eucharistic people, as the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ amidst all creation.
I'll be blogging a few more short ones about the Nurturing the Prophetic Imagination Conference, so please stay tuned to this blog spot.