No History In the Empire

I’ve been reading a lot of commentary on the prophets, specifically on Jeremiah lately. I came across this quote today in Walter Brueggemann’s “The Prophetic Imagination” in reference to liberation theologian Dorothy Soelle. He writes:

Prophetic criticism, Dorothy Soelle, has suggested, consists in mobilizing people to their real restless grief and in nurturing them away from cry-hearer who are inept at listening and indifferent in response. Surely history consists primarily of speaking and being answered, crying and being heard. If that is true, it means there can be no history in the empire because the cries are never heard and the speaking is never answered. And if the task of prophecy is to empower people to engage in history (their faith tradition), then it means evoking cries that expect answers, learning to address them where they will be taken seriously, and ceasing to look to the numbed and dull empire that never intended to answer in the first place.

(Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, 13) ((affiliate link))