Friday, June 05, 2009

psalms in the summer: part four

We are a few days into our summer immersion into the Psalms. Today, June 5, included the reading of Psalms 9 (morning) and 10 (evening). Some of you have joined as followers on twitter, for which we are grateful. We are posting a 140 character response/reflection each morning and evening, and included some of the feedback from followers.

Why the Psalms? I came across this writing from Ellen Davis, in her Getting Involved With God:

"The Psalms model ways of talking to God that are honest, yet not obvious---at least they are not obvious to modern Christians. They may guide our first steps toward deeper involvement with God, because the Psalms give us a new possibility for prayer; they invite full disclosure. They enable us to bring into our conversation with God feelings and thoughts that most of us think we need to get rid of before God will be interested in hearing from us." (5)

What strikes me about this commentary by a very wise biblical theologian is the sense that it is culturally, psychologically and theological accurate. She notes our cultural propensity for self-deception and pride; we avoid God, or come to God in ways that are sometimes not who we are but who we imagine our religious selves to be. This image (false self) is one that is often marketed to us by the industry of Christian publishing and and modeled by the persona of religious celebrity. She is on target psychologically: "full disclosure" is the therapeutic encounter with this false self (think Psalm 51), en route to the true self (this was Thomas Merton's guiding image, powerfully present early in his writings, especially The Sign of Jonas). And she speaks profound theological truth: the psalms are the raw materials of the divine-human relationship, God's revelation and our apprehension of this gift by faith, God's strength and our weakness, God's mystery and our incomprension. Psalms that we know well---Psalm 8, 23, 51, 139--have the capacity to speak to us again and again, and precisely because we are constantly living in the condition that Ellen Davis describes.

And so I hope you will embark with us in the journey through the Psalms this summer.


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