As you make plans for next summer let me put something on your calender. This year, June 18-20, at Rochester College's Streaming: Biblical Conversations from the Missional Frontier, Walter Brueggemann and I will be in conversation on the conference theme "I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice."
Yesterday, I got a very nice and complementary email from Walter upon his finishing Unclean. Given how much I've been influenced by Walter's work, professionally and personally, it's going to be an huge honor to discuss Unclean with him at Streaming. In fact, some of Dr. Brueggemann's own work was catalytic in my own thinking regarding the tensions between mercy and sacrifice. This quote from his Theology of the Old Testament proved very important:
[The purity and justice] trajectories of command serve very different sensibilities and live in profound tension with each other. The tradition of justice concerns the political-economic life of the community and urges drastic transformative and rehabilitative activity. The tradition of holiness focuses on the cultic life of the community and seeks a restoration of a lost holiness, whereby the presence of God can again be counted on and enjoyed.As I pondered this quote many years ago I wondered: How are purity and justice "very different sensibilities"? More, why do these sensibilities "live in profound tension with each other"?
Unclean was my attempt to answer those questions. I'd encourage you to think through your own set of answers.
Looking forward to seeing you, along with Walter Brueggemann, this coming June at Streaming.