Book Reviews

Review: Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out

Interrupting Silence: God's Command to Speak OutInterrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out by Walter Brueggemann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A brief yet fascinating study from Walter Brueggemann on the place and power of silence – and the act of silencing – in the Christian Scriptures that points out that at the heart of silence is the application of power a power that supports the status quo rather than the freedom that God proclaims.

Taking several particular examples from across the spectrum of the Scriptures, Brueggemann issues a constant clarion call to recognise silence as something that has its origins in human frailty and desire – a desire to not upset what is commonly understood as being ‘the ways things are’ – and the breaking of silence to be an act inspired by God – and enacted by Jesus in many of the examples cited – that challenges the status quo in preference to the fullness of what God intended.

It is a challenging book – especially the last chapter where Brueggemann looks at the way in which the Church, as institution, can be as guilty as silencing the still small voice of the Spirit in order to preserve that which the Church believes to be ‘the way things are’. For a white male member of the clergy, it was thought-provoking and challenging in ways that cannot be ignored and which will need to be considered prayerfully and honestly.

From the back cover:
Silence is a complex matter. It can refer to awe before unutterable holiness, but it can also refer to the coercion where some voices are silenced in the interest of control by the dominant voices. It is the latter silence that Walter Brueggemann explores, urging us to speak up in situations of injustice.

Interrupting Silence illustrates that the Bible is filled with stories where marginalized people break repressive silence and speak against it. Examining how maintaining silence allows the powerful to keep control, Brueggemann motivates readers to consider situations in their lives where they need to either interrupt silence or be part of the problem, convincing us that God is active and wanting us to act for justice.


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