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