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Category: The Politics of Scripture

The Politics of Scripture series follows the Revised Common Lectionary to connect the biblical text to political issues in contemporary thought and practice. You can search past archives by scriptural book here.

The Politics of Scripture blog welcomes contributions from scholars, religious leaders, and activists. If you would like to submit an essay or join our contributor list, please email Series Editor, Caralie Focht at caraliefocht@gmail.com

Setting The Prisoners Free

Images of imprisonment appear throughout the Psalter, where the psalmist turns to God as refuge in order to exit the pit of despair. Similar to the life of Omar Ibn Said, and the opera which tells his story, images of shelter and succor help the psalmist escape the abyss of embattlement, imprisonment, or depression, and nurture the attitudes of care, trust, and hope that crest in Psalm 146 and the Hallelujah psalms.

The Politics of Retelling

Retelling of a story/text in the Word of God demonstrates the dynamic nature of the event of the God of the word. The God of the Bible is a God who reappears, reveals, re-presents, reimagines and repeats Godself to the creation in God’s own ways to each time and context.

“Christ the King” and the Challenge of Symbols

“Christ the King” on the cross offers a way of exposing systemic injustice by hanging in solidarity with victims of a violent system, but refusing to buy into the same violence that sustains it.

Whose past? Which memories? A counter-reading of Isaiah 65

The promise of a new world, all memories of suffering erased, seems like a gift. But for
whom?

The Postcolonial Temple

An occasional characterization of the Book of Haggai is that it is self-interestedly supportive of the ascendant Persian Empire. I elaborate on this description and then problematize it by demonstrating that this pericope reveals the prophet to be subversively mimicking the Achaemenid imperial metanarrative.

The Timeless Power of Hope

How do we maintain hope in the face of a seemingly unending time of strife, violence, and conflict? Seek out beauty, depend upon hope…and dance, even in the face of unending war. Hope does not ignore the struggle, nor does it free us from the scars resulting from our struggles. The people of Israel will always carry the scars of their trauma with them; yet, scars also signify survival.

Active Compassion, Not Self-Righteousness

The theo-political impulse of this parable is this: one needs to address the inequality of perceptions that manifest both in society and sacred places.

Becoming and Transitioning: Names Then and Now

In the book of Genesis, after the changing of Jacob’s name to Israel, no one calls him by his new name. Instead, the name “Israel” seems to exist as his “true name” and Jacob as his “use name.” “Jacob” is the name that everyone calls him, but he knows that “Israel” is who he really is inside. God has named him “Israel,” and consequently, this will become his legacy.

Naaman’s Healing and the Experience of De-access.

What makes this moment prophetic is that Elisha forces Naaman to experience what it is to be restricted of free access to every place. Through that restriction, Naaman learns what it means to be vulnerable and realizes how powerless people are pushed into much suffering because of restrictive laws. In the experience of powerlessness, the healing of Naaman begins.

Violent Fantasies and the Language of the Unheard

While the Judahites were the recipients of physical violence, they only had the power to return rhetorical, fantasized violence. They were forced to entrust actual retribution to other powers: to God, and perhaps to the Persians (envisioned as God’s agents).

When Anointing One’s Head with Oil Becomes the Problem

A truly progressive society is one that is able to feel the wounds and pain of the most marginalized and excluded. Such a society’s task, consequently, is to heal and anoint the wounded. Perhaps, that task is better undertaken by embracing the work of mourning.

God’s Right-Side Up Kingdom

The God of Israel does not get so caught up in the national agenda that God neglects the prayers of individuals in pain. The best antidote to politics-as-usual is proper worship. Praising YHWH can keep our feet flat on the floor. As we worship the God who sees and the God who acts on behalf of the downtrodden, we seek to become like God. YHWH, rather than the human powers that be, becomes our model. In worship we become attentive to the things that God attends to, such as the grieving woman whose empty cradle signals an uncertain future.