#9 Unexpected News

I’ve decided to at last read Robert McAfee Brown’s Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (I’ve had a copy for a while). It covers 10 biblical passages, and basically interprets them along liberation theology lines. I find elements of the read uncomfortable; the political ideology represented not just in liberation theology but in Brown’s applications is as one-sided as that of some on the right. And the stories are more complicated to tease out than sometimes is developed – the Exodus is not merely about liberation, but about covenant and God’s redemptive purposes (so it can’t be easily linked to particular modern political programs ). And while I understand Brown’s offense at some of the things done by the United States government, I wish he showed similar distaste for the Gulags and the killing fields, though perhaps this is unfair given the scope of his work.

It’s worth noting that God didn’t liberate the poor Egyptians, for example, so the Exodus is not simply a class warfare event. Nevertheless, what happens for Israel is paradigmatic; God cares for the widows and children; wealth and power are often used corruptly and oppressively and God is against that. So, in listening to these readings, I gain a better perspective than from my limited horizon and perhaps be more aware of how I can be a person interested in justice, even if my vision of the means to justice may be different than Brown’s.

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