Is Homophobia a Proxy for Fear of Social Change? Walter Brueggeman Explains.

In May, Krista Tippett interviewed Protestant Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann. He explains why he thinks gay and lesbian sexuality “has such adrenaline” in and beyond church communities. He explores the idea that homophobia is a proxy for people’s ill-defined fears about an old world order that’s rapidly disappearing.

“It is an amorphous anxiety that we’re in a free fall as a society. And I think we kind of are in free fall as a society, but I don’t think it has anything to do with gays and lesbians particularly.”

Listen to Walter Brueggemann, author of Prophetic Imagination, read Jeremiah 4 and Isaiah 43 — passages of judgement and hope. He discusses the anxiety of our current age in the context of the prophets and the call of the contemporary church to minister WITHIN the anxiety.

“[The prophets] were rooted in the covenantal traditions of whatever it was from Moses and Sinai and all that. And the other thing is that they are completely uncredeintialed and without pedigree, so they just rise up in the landscape. And the way I put it now, they imagine their contemporary world differently according to that old tradtion. So it’s tradition and imagination.

There’s no way to explain that, so we explain it by the work of the Spirit but I don’t think you have to say that … They are moved, like every good poet is moved, to have to describe the world differently according to the gifts of their insight. Of course in their own time, and every time since, the people who control the power structure do not know what to make of them so they characteristically try to silence them.

What power people always discover is that you can not finally silence poets. They just keep coming at you in threatening and transformative ways.” —Walter Brueggemann, interview with Krista Tippett (May 18, 2011)

2 responses to “Is Homophobia a Proxy for Fear of Social Change? Walter Brueggeman Explains.”

  1. Thanks, Nancy. Brueggemann points out a fundamental arc and narrative of the gospel: It bends toward inclusiveness–toward the gathering of the nations and tribes. But fear, that puppet master of Empire, generates a fundamental anxiety that can only be temporarily relieved through scapegoating. The invitation, from 1 John 4, is to cultivate love to cast out fear.

  2. This makes great sense to me & fits my experience. I have had others sometime ask me if the conservative side of my family are “upset” about my being a lesbian & my answer has been always that I think they are actually relieved, because that provides a specific focus for what discomforts them. It is much better than a vague but nagging discomfort with a whole series of opinions on various matters where we disagree. This is clear.

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