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Journey to the Common Good Paperback – January 25, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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About the Author

Walter Brueggemann is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is the world's leading interpreter of the Old Testament, and is the author of numerous books, including Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination and Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1 edition (January 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664235166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664235161
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
[ This review was featured in the 5 March 2010 issue
of THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS ]

One of the things that we have worked really hard to do as Englewood Christian Church over the past two decades is to gather our neighbors for conversation on imagining what the common good for our neighborhood might look like. So when the city of Indianapolis declared our neighborhood and the surrounding ones as a "redevelopment zone" several years ago, we played a key role in gathering neighbors to craft - over the course of a year - a specific plan for how we wanted to see our neighborhood improved in a way that would minimize gentrification and not drive out the neighbors who presently live here. We work with our neighbors in this way because we believe that God is at work, redeeming creation, and that this work of redemption unfolds primarily through the faithfulness of church communities who imagine and discern God's redemptive work in their specific places. With these convictions and the experiences of our church community at the forefront of my mind, I was very eager to read Walter Brueggemann's ideas in his newest book Journey to the Common Good.

I have read a number of Brueggemann's previous works and have resonated with the basic points of his theological vision as expressed in these books. In particular, I have a deep appreciation for his emphasis on the people of God (as a community) in God's redemptive work, on the conversational relationships between God and the people of God (see his recent book An Unsettling God), on the importance of imagination in discerning God's leading (see The Prophetic Imagination), and finally, on the significance that he places on land and place in the mission of God (see The Land).
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Brueggemann has done it again. This little volume speaks potently about the call to neighborliness as an antidote to consumerism, productionism, and anxiety in our world today. Brueggemann weaves together a number of biblical texts in a faithful way that will challenge the reader to think about how the claims of the Gospel impact the social realities which many of us take for granted. Who else could come up with such pithy aphorisms like: "scarcity robs the neighborhood", "you in covenant can brag on this: that you have been given the secret of God's primal impulse; justice that gives access and visibility to the weak and righteousness as intervention for social well-being", and "the rendezvous of God's holiness and human pain"? This book is not practical for the preacher but it will fill the preacher's soul and stretch and challenge the mind. Brueggemann is a true gift and a well of insight.
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Disclaimer: What follows is one of my blog entries and is not necessarily a book review per se. However, the entire blog entry was a direct result of Brueggemann's book.

A little less than a year ago, several months removed from the earthquake that devastated Haiti, a team from National Community Church that included both myself and my soon-to-be wife sat in a Miami airport waiting for their connecting flight to Haiti. Last night I was vividly brought back to this moment as I was reading through Walter Brueggemann's Journey to the Common Good. While waiting for that connecting flight I happened to be reading through the 58th chapter of Isaiah. I remember reading verses 11 and 12 with amazement. "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame...your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." My thought as I read these words were, "This is exactly what we are going to do." In retrospect, I believe this was a grandiose dream. How much can a dozen people lacking carpentry skills accomplish in a week's time? In fact we did not "raise up the age-old foundations." We were not called "Repairer of Broken Walls" nor "Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." We did help protect a school from erosion and helped some villages have access to clean drinking water. However, what I walked away with or had reinforced from the trip was that people living in incredibly poor and dire circumstances tend to have more love and joy than what I experience in my homeland: the United States.

I don't believe it was coincidence that Brueggemann's book brought me back to this chapter in Isaiah.
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I've returned to Brueggemann as one must from time to time. And with him comes the old testament and its characters. And IN him, Brueggemann is a kind of stern teacher, not strict or mean, but coalesced and crystal clear. There is no running away from his scalpel. And there is destination other than God's freedom. This is a must, must, must read.
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I got a lot from this book. I've been studying the Bible with Jews and with Christians for a number of years. To read a book written by one who is both a Hebrew Bible scholar AND a Christian Bible scholar helps me to see the common ground as well as the differences. When we can see the view points of both faiths, we have a chance of better understanding and respecting the hurdles between us and together find ways over them.
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