Tag Archives: common good

One-Minute Review: “Journey to the Common Good”

Today I finished a short, punchy book by Walter Brueggemann called Journey to the Common Good.  Here’s my one-minute review.


common good journey


“What is Journey to the Common Good all about?”
Brueggemann is a brilliant Old Testament scholar who draws powerful connections between the decisive events of the Old Testament (e.g. enslavement, exodus, Sinai covenant, exile, etc.,) and our contemporary political and social landscape.  In just 115 pages, Journey to the Common Good contrasts the life-defining narratives and values offered by the empires of this world (both ancient and modern) against those of the kingdom of God.  Brueggemann offers Israel’s journey as a nation as the pattern for how the people of God today can release themselves from the empire’s distorted values of wisdom, power, and wealth, and embrace the values of God’s kingdom; values that lead to common good flourishing for all.  Brueggemann believes the realization of this kind of communal life can only be achieved through “neighbourliness,” covenanting, and reconstructing a social imagination based on the distinctively prophetic texts of the Old Testament.

“Should I read it?”
Maybe.  Journey is a dense book.  There’s absolutely no filler.  There’s no feel-good stories, humorous quips, and I don’t remember one illustration.  It’s a fiery, intense book.  On the positive side, that means the book ends up being a scant 115 pages.  On the negative side, its literary intensity and compactness doesn’t offer a lot of breathing room.  Personally I found Journey to be incredibly stimulating, but I could see how many people might not connect with Brueggemann’s material due to its “no nonsense” approach, and due to the fact that there’s no emotional bridge into the subject matter.  Journey is the very definition of a Mind type book!  That being said, for those looking for a rich and insightful analysis of why Christians ought to be committed to the common good, and ways to practically subvert empiric values that demean and dehumanize, this small book will have a big impact.


Culture Making, Playing God, and the Common Good

Last year our lead pastoral team attended a Q session in New York City that featured Andy Crouch and Timothy Keller exploring what it means for Christians to be culture-making agents for the common good.

It was a fantastic experience. Keller has long been a major theological/pastoral mentor of mine, so I was looking forward to meeting him and “sitting at his feet.” What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the impact that Crouch’s sessions would have on me. At the time of the conference I had just started to wade into Crouch’s writings (I was about half-way through Culture Making). Having written about the relationship between power and Christian leadership in my own book, Andy’s reflections brought a new level of coherence to my thinking as I was challenged to develop a more nuanced understanding of how power is connected to culture making, playing God, and the common good.

During the New York sessions I remember being struck by how timely his thoughts were to my own pastoral context and the issues facing the city of Hamilton in particular. After his third session I approached Andy and asked if he would be willing to come up to Hamilton and facilitate a TrueCity event that would help galvanize Christians in this area into a deeper engagement with his themes. He was incredibly warm to the idea, and after hearing about the TrueCity movement it only took a few emails to secure a date: January 16th, 2014.

I’m still working with the TrueCity leadership team to figure out the exact parameters of the one day event, but the following two questions will be framing our time together:

1. “What is the role of the church in pursuing the ‘common good’?”

2. “How do we [church leaders] handle power in a way that causes our churches to flourish in the pursuit of the ‘common good’?”

Although the event is still months away, I find myself increasingly excited as Andy’s influence grows and his ideas continue to resonate and build momentum within the Christian community.

If you’re new to Andy Crouch, here is a series of six short videos that give you an introduction the six big ideas found in his new book Playing God: Redeemer the Gift of Power. I hope they entice you to dive into Andy’s writings and let them shape your discipleship journey:

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, on Playing the Cello from InterVarsity Press on Vimeo.

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, on Either/Or from InterVarsity Press on Vimeo.

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, on Idolatry from InterVarsity Press on Vimeo.

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, on Poverty from InterVarsity Press on Vimeo.

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, on Flourishing from InterVarsity Press on Vimeo.

Andy Crouch, author of Playing God, on Institutions from InterVarsity Press on Vimeo.