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Spirituality of the Psalms by Walter BrueggemannInsightful perspective of these ancient poems and useful for empowering groups and teams to be reflective and embrace transformation PSALMS THE RHYTHM OF LIFE AS ORIENTATION, DISORIENTATION, REORIENTATIONThe basic movement in everyone s life is Firstly the move into the pit , when our world collapses around us Secondly the move out of the pit into a welcome placeWalter Brueggemann suggests that our life consists of moving with God in t Spirituality of the Psalms by Walter BrueggemannInsightful perspective of these ancient poems and useful for empowering groups and teams to be reflective and embrace transformation PSALMS THE RHYTHM OF LIFE AS ORIENTATION, DISORIENTATION, REORIENTATIONThe basic movement in everyone s life is Firstly the move into the pit , when our world collapses around us Secondly the move out of the pit into a welcome placeWalter Brueggemann suggests that our life consists of moving with God in terms of being securely oriented in which everything makes sense in our lives being painfully disoriented in which we feel we have sunk into the pit and being surprisingly reoriented in which we realize that God has lifted us out of the pit, and we are in a new place full of gratitude and awareness about our lives and our GodBrueggemann says that the Psalms offer a framework for engaging GodFirst Movement Orientation Songs of Creation God s gifts Ps 8, 33, 104, 145 Songs of Torah God s purposes Ps 1, 15, 19, 24, 119 Songs of Wisdom God s certainty Ps 14, 37 Songs of Well Being God s goodness Ps 131, 133 Second Movement Disorientation Songs of Personal Complaint Ps 13, 35, 86 Songs of Communal Complaint Ps 74, 79, 137 Third Movement Re Orientation Personal Thanksgivings God s rescue Ps 30, 34, 40, 138 Communal Thanksgivings God s salvation Ps 65, 66, 124, 129 Kingly psalms God s leadership Ps 29, 47, 93, 97, 98, 99, 114 Hymns of praise God s newness Ps 100, 103, 113, 117, 135, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150 Psalms are for people who are living at the edge of their lives, sensitive to the raw hurts, the primitive passions, and the naive elations that are at the bottom of our life For most of us, liturgical or devotional entry into the Psalms requires a real change of pace, to listen as well as speak It asks us to depart from the closely managed world of public survival, to move into the open, frightening, healing world of speech with the Holy One.The speech of the Psalms is abrasive, revolutionary, and dangerous It announces that our common experience is not one of well being and equilibrium, but a churning, disruptive experience of dislocation and relocation These Psalms are a sufficient resource to enable robust faith and provides a model in which we may challenge established consensus, raise true and hard questions about theology and society, and emerge with a truer picture of the nature of God and society.PSALMS AS SPIRITUALITYThis movement is most clearly played out in the life of Jesus of Nazareth For example Philippians 2 5 11Orientation Though He was in the form of God Disorientation He emptied himself Re Orientation Therefore, God has highly exalted him We see this in Christian baptism We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life Romans 6 4 NIV Sharing in his death by our baptism means that we were co buried and entombed with him, so that when the Father s glory raised Christ from the dead, we were also raised with him We have been co resurrected with him so that we could be empowered to walk in the freshness of new life Romans 6 4 TPT The psalms of negativity, the complaints of various kinds, the cries for vengeance and profound penitence are foundational to a life of faith in this particular God W.B SofP, page xii.Hope is rooted in the midst of loss and darkness.The Psalms are profoundly subversive of the dominant culture, which wants to deny and cover over the darkness we are called to enter.PSALMS AS SEASONS OF LIFEHuman life consists of Satisfied seasons of well being that evoke gratitude for the constancy of blessing orientation Anguished seasons of hurt, alienation, suffering and death These evoke rage, resentment, self pity, and hatred disorientation Surprise when we are overwhelmed with the new gifts of God, when joy breaks through despair Where there has been only darkness, there is light.From nomos order to anomie chaos From plea to praise, and the kingly psalms are further emphasised in Mark 1 14 15 Luke 4 18 19 7 22 Matthew 6 10.To preach that everything is awesome is not true because life is marked by incoherence and loss of balance Christian praise songs about God s order and reliability are at best only partly true It is not faith or defiance of the devil or resistance to secular worldliness, but a frightened numb denial and deception that doesn t want to acknowledge, admit or experience the savage disorientation of life.It is an odd inclination for passionate Bible users because the large portion of Hebrew Scriptures are liturgies of lament, poems of protest and cries of complaint about the angst in the world I think religious people dismiss lament as negativity as if that is unfaith and implies God s loss of control.To cling to an insistence that everything is in order and rightly orientated is to completely miss the point of Jesus life, betrayal, murder and resurrection I must be betrayed and handed over to death But his disciples implored him to not go that way, unable to cope with such a threat to our sense of sage, assured orientation Jesus gave his sharpest rebuke to his friends who tried to stop the process Matthew 16 21 26 It is re orientation that Jesus is leading them to It is being lead from the green pastures to descent into the valley of the shadow of death in order to ascend and enter the house of the Lord Psalm 23.Similarly, on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 v17 They stood still, with sadness on their faces v21 But we were hoping He was the One v25 Then Jesus said to them, O foolish ones, how slow are your hearts to believe all that the prophets have spoken Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then to enter His glory The point I am making is that psalms of darkness are not failures but acts of bold faith Bold because it exposes pretend superficiality to acknowledge reality, and bold because it insists that disorder is something that we can actually talk to God about Nothing is out of bounds or inappropriate to say to God Here s the deal everything we experience can and must be turned into speech and addressed to God.This is why psalms of darkness are crucial because God is present in, participating in, and attentive to darkness, weakness and displacement After all, the Saviour is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief Isaiah 53 3.A religion of secure orientation is terrified by the honest, even visceral, speech that it has always censored, denied and forcibly quenched, because it offends proper and dignified religious sensitivities.But when a desperate plea is addressed to God in the form of complaint, petition and unguarded language the divine breakthrough comes and the plea is then transformed into praises of assurance of being heard, new vows and promises made, and expressions of adoration Brueggermann brings the Psalms to life with his insightful material on orientation disorientation new orientation Being a short abridgment of one of his larger works it is a great entry point for the everyday Christian but deep enough for the theologically trained. Three stars, because the scheme of orientation disorientation new orientation is a helpful paradigm for thinking about the types of experiences contained in the Psalms Only three stars, because I disagree fundamentally with the critical scholarship on which most of the author s work is built. Wonderful little book that discusses how the psalms are characterized by themes of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation as the cycle of spirituality and life overall as God intended.The last chapter also makes a compelling argument of how the psalms also show the interaction the community and God as it faces questions of injustice which is also intricately bound with spirituality.A little sample from the concluding chapter When we pray these Psalms, in community or in private, we Wonderful little book that discusses how the psalms are characterized by themes of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation as the cycle of spirituality and life overall as God intended.The last chapter also makes a compelling argument of how the psalms also show the interaction the community and God as it faces questions of injustice which is also intricately bound with spirituality.A little sample from the concluding chapter When we pray these Psalms, in community or in private, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who count on our prayers Those witnesses include first of all the Israelites who cried out against Pharaoh and other oppressors But the cloud of witnesses includes all those who hope for justice and liberation This does not detract from the conviction that God is powerful Spirit It does not reduce the Psalms to political documents It rather insists that our spirituality must answer to the God who is present where the questions of justice and order, transformation and equilibrium are paramount We dare not be positivists about our spirituality, as though we live in a world in which all issues are settled The spirituality of the Psalms assumes that the world is called to question in this conversation with God That permits and requires that our conversation with God be vigorous, candid, and daring Walter Brueggemann, Spirituality of the Psalms Minneapolis Fortress Press, 2002 , 73 74 Brueggemann argues that people treat psalms one of two ways either they treat them devotionally and never critically analyze the genre, structure, etc or they do treat them academically but never allow them to affect them spiritually His goal in this book is to do both by providing a new paradigm to see the psalms.Gunkel showed the world that the psalms fall into specific forms or genres Mowinckel showed the centrality of the psalms in the cult Westermann, sidestepping Mowinckel, updated Gu Brueggemann argues that people treat psalms one of two ways either they treat them devotionally and never critically analyze the genre, structure, etc or they do treat them academically but never allow them to affect them spiritually His goal in this book is to do both by providing a new paradigm to see the psalms.Gunkel showed the world that the psalms fall into specific forms or genres Mowinckel showed the centrality of the psalms in the cult Westermann, sidestepping Mowinckel, updated Gunkel s genres Brueggemann takes all of these perspectives and combines them with a dash of liberation theology He argues that there are three movements in the spirituality of the psalms orientation disorientation reorientation The various genres of psalms correspond with these movements For example, both creation psalms and Torah psalms see God in heaven and the whole world in perfect harmony That makes them psalms of orientation Individual and communal laments, however, see something fundamentally wrong in the cosmos These fall into the disorientation movement.Brueggemann concludes the book with a chapter arguing how a spirituality of the psalms expects demands justice from God.This is a powerful little book Brueggemann seems to have written this for intelligent lay people He doesn t provide footnotes or endnotes but doesn t shy away from academic vernacular or concepts I m not 100% sold on his paradigm but he doesn t either but I do think it is a helpful paradigm for viewing the psalms and suffering in general Interesting Insightful Practical Spirituality of the Psalms is not an in depth devotional commentary such as Spurgeon s Treasury of David or the work of Alexander Maclaren nor is it strictly speaking an overarching exegetical work, whether that work be brief e.g Kidner or extensive e.g Allen, Broyles, Perowne, or Wilson Instead, Brueggemann helps the reader understand that a major move of the Psalms is the move from an ordered, reliable life to an existence that somehow has run amok, Interesting Insightful Practical Spirituality of the Psalms is not an in depth devotional commentary such as Spurgeon s Treasury of David or the work of Alexander Maclaren nor is it strictly speaking an overarching exegetical work, whether that work be brief e.g Kidner or extensive e.g Allen, Broyles, Perowne, or Wilson Instead, Brueggemann helps the reader understand that a major move of the Psalms is the move from an ordered, reliable life to an existence that somehow has run amok, and how the psalmist re orients toward God in the face of it This theme of Orientation, Disorientation, Re Orientation is the subject of his book.If you want to understand the Psalms,so your own walk with God, purchase Spirituality of the Psalms This is a book to be read and studied The author provides multiple examples of psalms of orientation, disorientation, and re orientation He also offers additional Scriptural support outside the Psalms Additionally, Brueggemann will help you avoid the tendency to treat the Psalms merely as a guide to a privatized spirituality As he points out in Chapter 5, Spirituality and God s Justice, the psalms highlight theodicy God s goodness and justice in an evil world That justice operates in community and communion, therefore, reflections on theodicyalways spill over into the public dimensions of life Chapter 5.Brueggemann provides the insightful analysis of a scholar For example, in discussing the hidden gap between verses in a psalm when the writer goes from plea to praise, he takes us to a deeper discussion among scholars, including that of Joachim Begrich The deliverance oracle is a promise on God s part to be present with, to help, and to intervene on behalf of the petitioner The recurring feature of such a speech is the sovereign fear not of Yahweh And that speech so goes the hypothesis resolves the desperate situation and permits the speaker to begin life anew in confidence and gratitude It is argued that the fear not represents the primal communication that touches the deepest fears and angers and opens the most profound possibilities, when it is spoken by one who has consent from us to change our world.I appreciate Brueggemann s work for many reasons, but perhaps most notably for taking us to the place most don t want to go the place of disorientation when our world doesn t make sense and God seems silent Brueggemann writes We have spent a major portion of our time and space on that reality in the Psalms because that is the part of the Psalter that has been most neglected italics mine in church use In the present religious situation, it may be the part of the Psalter that is most helpful, because we live in a society of denial and cover up, and these psalms provide a way for healing candor.Bruegemmann reminds us that in the Psalms as in life, we can never go home again God works in the unpleasant situations of our lives to take us to new heights and depths that we might knowof Him wherever we are.I gave this book five stars because Brueggemann brought to a light a key insight that impacts my reading of all the Psalms Orientation, Disorientation, New Orientation He helped me appreciate the spirituality of the psalms for my walk with God and my walk with God in community Finally, his treatment of theodicy and community was very helpful This is a rather small and short book, but I really struggled to read its academic and dense contents I have an extensive vocabulary, but I find some academics write in a way that feels almost purposefully obtuse The author seems to take a lot of words to say not very much It s very academic in tone, which seems to contradict the title s spiritual intent One of theinteresting aspects presented by the author is how the psalms are likely to be interpreted differently by Jews versus Chris This is a rather small and short book, but I really struggled to read its academic and dense contents I have an extensive vocabulary, but I find some academics write in a way that feels almost purposefully obtuse The author seems to take a lot of words to say not very much It s very academic in tone, which seems to contradict the title s spiritual intent One of theinteresting aspects presented by the author is how the psalms are likely to be interpreted differently by Jews versus Christians Basically, the author presents three categories of psalms belonging to orientation faith in creation , disorientation struggle and frustrations , and new orientation historical liberation None of the psalms is actually reprinted in the text, though, so you ll want to have them nearby to consult The last chapter was my favorite, and I wonder why it wasn t the first chapter I m actually surprised I made it so far, and I pity the poor reader who gives up before reaching it as I was so tempted to do myself This final chapter discusses theodicy and the nature of the psalms that makes them central to discussions of society and justice &DOWNLOAD ☝ Spirituality of the Psalms ↾ Using a model of orientation disorientation new orientation, Brueggemann explores how the genres of the Psalms can be viewed in terms of their function This results in fresh readings of these ancient songs that illumine their spiritual depth The voices of the Psalms come through in all their bold realism An overview of the Psalms explaining the different types The last chapter on theodicy is a bit hard to grasp at first This book is not an easy,quick read but did enjoy it as part of a Bible study course. ExcellentThis is a must read on the subject of the Psalms and theodicy The Psalms provide movement for us and the author values alongside the Psalms the times of suffering within this the artful process of life.