Psalm Thoughts

Today, a few of Walter Brueggemann’s thoughts on the Psalms, from his book, Praying the Psalms.

The Psalms, in their boldness and passion, are out beyond our conventional liturgical and devotional practices.  We are always hurrying to catch up with the daring faith of the Psalms.  When we catch up with it here and there, now and then, the transaction itself, in its transformative force, is nothing less than resurrection, the gift of new life that the God praised and summoned intends us to have.

[Each psalm] speaks about life the way it really is, for in those deeply human dimensions the same issues and possibilities persist.  And so when we turn to the Psalms it means we…speak among them and with them and for them, to express our solidarity in this anguished, joyous human pilgrimage.  We add a voice to the common elation, shared grief, and communal rage that besets us all.

I went to coffee with a good, good friend last night, and we talked about loss and anger and all that is never spoken of in the church, or spoken of obliquely.  Inevitably, our conversation turned upon the psalms.  I’ve been taking a look at the entire scope of these ancient poems, instead of moving on to Psalm 47 (next in the queue), and find solace in what counts for faith, as Walter Brueggemann writes about, as my brother talked to me about Tuesday night, as I talked about last night over coffee.

The stream of faith is wider than we give it credit, and encompasses more doubt and rage than we allow — which in turn allows for more rejoicing. For, the soul that can feel deep, deep negative emotion also learns to feel much higher positive emotion.  The soul that goes into the dark, beyond the door and into the room, into the far blackest corner, is most overwhelmed and awed when the light comes on.

So, may we, all of us, refuse to stand at the threshold.  May we enter into the room of doubt and exaltation through these ancient poems.  May we tell truer stories than the staid and safe ones that come from far too many pulpits; may the language and permission of the psalms enliven us to the anguish and joy of the world around us, within us.


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