Before October waved goodbye
Snowflakes danced down against the sky
Soon lost in the air they rode
Still they reminded, written in code
Winter watched in dark mornings
Cooler temperatures a mere warning
Wind, snow, ice and cold
Shorter days, warmer coats, you must be bold
To face old man winter, he’s arrived.
LISTENING TO THE AMAZING THEOLOGIAN WALTER BRUEGGEMANN
posted Oct. 14, 2017
A few weeks ago I posted on the reading page of this blog the books by theologian Walter Brueggemann I’ve been reading and surveying.
Now, I’ve heard him speak!
He is even more profound and compelling in person than on the page. In my experience this is seldom true for well-known and accomplished writers. His voice is a gift from God, and he uses it well. Modulations, interest, emphasis – so many oratorical skills. He thunders, he soothes, he questions and all with his voice.
That voice held me in a tight attention. Never for a moment during the hour and a half did I lose interest, nor did I feel a need for clarification. Oh, he used big words – always explained. When he repeated, his repetition clarified or emphasized. I largely remembered what he said. (Imagine that! ☺) He provides context – an important aid to meaning and clarity.
What did he say?
He began by giving listeners context for consideration of the Scriptures. Renowned cultures: Ancient Jerusalem, Babylon, Rome, and increasingly the U. S. often create totalism (complete and unrestricted power in government). Those in control consider themselves as always right and always most important. They are little concerned with people on the margins (poor, people of color, immigrants, orphans, etc.) They expect the particular beliefs they espouse to be followed to the letter by all.
The bible speaks to us in poetry, song and story. Sometimes these make little sense to people running totalism. Totalism thinks you are a nobody unless you are a winner. Poems, songs and stories address different peoples in differing situations, not all are winners.
Brueggemann turned to interpretation and reading of Psalms 103, 109, 86. The psalmist dialogues with God. He/she urges God to note injustice. He/she (it is not known who authored most psalms and when you read them the words can seem to be your own) petitions God for assistance, laments the bullying he/she suffers. (italics are mine). He/she asks God to inflict vengeance on his/her tormentors.
Brueggeman pointed out the ancient Hebrew term for steadfast love, sometimes translated kindness, sometimes translated great love, love that will not let you go. It is repeatedly used in these Psalms. Steadfast love owns ultimate importance as a gift to humans from God – to those in the psalmist’s time – to all of us who walk or have walked the earth.
Read these Psalms and you will encounter these themes.
Recognizing my interpretation of Brueggemann’s remarks is passed on to you through my filters, I urge you to listen/view youtube.com excerpts of Brueggemann speaking and/or read one of his books. New insights may await you. So far I can personally recommend Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now and Reality-Grief-Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks.
I am inviting you, urging, petitioning you. Don’t let his work pass you by. He is a vigorous 84 years old. You too, are invited to dialogue with God just as the psalmists did. For example, perhaps you will decide to put any desire for vengeance you may feel in God’s hands. Brueggemann’s words and writings may lead you to question, argue, move your mind to action and to steadfast love. Love that will not let go, a love of “tenacious solidarity” for the humans who share our planet and our America.
With sincere thanks to my pastor Marjorie Wilhelmi who urged me to read and listen to Walter Brueggemann.
WHY I CARE ABOUT APALACHICOLA BAY, ITS ESTUARY AND SUCH PLACES IN OUR AMERICA
October 2, 2017
My husband Jerry Lein died in the waters of Apalachicola Bay. He loved the waters of this bay and the Apalachicola Estuary. So maybe it was not a bad place to pass over into new life. One of his favorite ever experiences in the state of Florida was a boat trip up the Estuary.
He photographed wildlife there and in Wakulla Springs located in the neighboring county. I too love the waters of the estuary and the wildlife that lives there. Huge cypress and tupelo trees line the waterways of the estuary, one of the healthiest such places in our America. I have had a special love for this place for many years.
Today I was reading about a woman named Jenna Harper who also loves the waters in the Apalachicola area. She is manager of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. It is a center for ecotourism (how Jerry and I found this place to begin our explorations of the water and forests of the area). Fisheries in this region generate income to sustain 85 percent of human population. It is a great resource for wildlife and for people. Estuaries, where salt and fresh waters meet, are some of the most biologically rich habitats on the planet. The waterbird colonies here are the largest in Florida’s Panhandle.
Apalachicola is located in Franklin County. Fishing is vital to the local economy. Here one finds the most delicious of oysters. Once 88 percent of the oyster harvest in Florida and 10 percent in the whole county came from Apalachicola Bay. In 2012 this world changed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission learned that reduced freshwater flows had damaged fisheries. Experts from such agencies are lifeblood to the ecology of this environment.
The upcoming White House budget would eliminate much funding for these agencies which enable scientists and landowners to coordinate and refine stewardship strategies for the area. It is important for people across our country who love this place and other wildlife sanctuaries- including estuaries- to join forces and support state programs and agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Estuarine Reserves to keep this bay, the estuary and other neighboring state parks, national parks and islands such as St. George Island, filled with birds, sloughs, underground caves, waters and wildlife habitats as well as fishing areas and oysters beds, healthy and thriving.
I cannot bear to think of this place as less than its best. Yes, maintaining such places is complicated. Jenna Harper has balanced the fishing communities and wildlife in the area for many years. Let’s support this place, the wildlife and it’s people.
For Jerry and I the place is dear because of the pleasures of visiting there over many years. Apalachicola Estuary is second in size only to Alaska’s Kachemak Bay. You and I can help with the monitoring of this great habitat if we keep an eye on our local, state, and federal government and what they may be planning to do. Your voice, your vote counts. We can keep informed about issues such as how to increase fresh water flow to the Apalachicola Bay area. This will increase the health of the oyster beds and feed other fish and wildlife we love.
Note: Information for this blog taken from “The Water Keeper’s Dilemma” by Laura Poppick appearing in the Fall 2017 Audubon Magazine.