Forums Spiritual Theology 1.3: Brueggemann on the Psalter

  • 1.3: Brueggemann on the Psalter

     Anonymous updated 1 year ago 16 Members · 66 Posts
  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 11, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    NB: Discussion posts are required for the Academic Track; all others are welcome to participate.

    How does Brueggemann’s grouping of the psalms into orientation, disorientation, and new orientation songs add to your understanding of Christian spirituality? (100 words)

    Due: Initial posts by 10/1, responses to at least two peers by 10/2

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 25, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I start by saying that this reading brought to my memory moments of my childhood in which I was taught and told that God will only love me, blessed me or be there for me if I did this or that. Even from a very early age I remember my mom saying things like, “God will be mad at you if you don’t clean your room or if you don’t get good grades” The God and relationship with God that I knew growing up was one in which obedient was a demand and the only way to be good in God’s eyes.

    As I was growing up, this God became something or someone I wanted nothing to do with. It wasn’t until Jesus met right where I was in my life, struggling with addiction that I was able to start falling in love with God, with who He really is. Today, I am obedient because He asked me to I am obedient because His love for me transformed me, changes me every day. I grow closer and closer to Him and by default what had happen is that everything I do, everything I say, everything I experience becomes an act of obedience and praise to Him

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 7:25 am

      This is awesome! I’m so glad you got to know Christ in a loving way. I too met Christ in a works based teaching church and it was so burdensome. We were taught how if we tithe we will be blessed and if we don’t then we are robbing God and will not be blessed. Like you, Christ also saved me from addiction. My process of disorientation and new orientation truly leads me to worship God because I feel like I am getting to know who God really is.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 28, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      It’s encouraging to hear your story. Sometimes I wonder if all spiritual growth can be summed up in our deepening knowledge of who God really is.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 1, 2020 at 8:35 am

      Your life is being told together, so this story seems to be getting richer. In the end is God’s love, as we have seen in our reading. God’s love changes us and saves us. But Marcion tried to deny the Old Testament God. I disagree with him, but I think we should see God of Marcion in order to see God of love. So I would like to read the book, Theology of the old testament of Brueggemann.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 4, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      “It wasn’t until Jesus met right where I was in my life, struggling with addiction that I was able to start falling in love with God, with who He really is.” What a powerful statement, Angel. Thank you for sharing your story! So glad to hear of how you’re experiencing God now in a way that feels holistic and all-encompassing of everything you do in life.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Yes, I want to echo others in thanking you for what you shared. It is such a beautiful and powerful example of how God’s love can pierce through the most horrible theologies we make up.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 26, 2020 at 7:14 am

    I remember as a young Christian we were taught that you are either hot or cold for Jesus, there is no in between. It’s not till later on that I began to disagree with this. I used to look at Christianity as either you are at a 0 or 100 but now I look at it as we all have our 2 days where we feel low and we have our 10 days where we feel high and our numbers change everyday. I see it as progressive sanctification. As Christians we go through our different phases of Spirituality. Like the video that we were assigned to watch, we go through our mountains, valleys, and plains. But its in the valleys where so much of our growth happens. So I relate this to the orientation, disorientation, and new orientation. I’m so happy to see Christianity like this now because I no longer look at how other Christians live and judge them in my mind saying that they are no Christian because they seem to be on fire for the Lord (sadly this is how I used to think). We are no less than a Christian because we are in our disorientation phase and no more of a Christian while in our new orientation phase. As the title of this unit says, we are on a long spiritual journey where, I believe, there will be constant orientation, disorientation, and new orientation and I thank God for that. Because of this I no longer judge others according to the flesh (2 Cor. 5:16).

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 27, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      Carlos, this resonated with me because I remember worrying that I was not a good Christian when I had doubts or was mad at God. Knowing that God walks with us through the peaks, valleys and everything in between and welcomes our feelings no matter what they may be, gives me so much space to learn and grow. I now feel I can question and wrestle with different concepts and believes and not have to make an all or nothing decision in that moment.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm

      Sarah Bessey, during today’s Evolving Faith conference, said, “we have had a lot of our certainties blown to hell. And to be honest, sometimes it felt like it was God who lit the match.” I still remember how I questioned God’s sovereignty after Rachel Held Evans died. And yet, in the midst of the conference that she founded — in the midst of that disorientation — there is God. I feel Him. In the doubt. In the questions. And it is beautiful.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 3, 2020 at 7:52 am

      Carlos, I can absolutely relate to this. I grew up in a very similar context. Understanding that *disorientation* is actually ok is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever learned. It’s ok to have days that look and sound like the Psalms I was afraid to read growing up. I would actually avoid reading Psalms that seemed to express displeasure in circumstances because somehow I believed that it meant I didn’t have faith. Looking back, all three seasons – orientation, disorientation, new orientation – have deeply formed me and I’m grateful for all of them!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 5, 2020 at 7:10 am

        Yes! There really is freedom in believing that its ok and that its going to be ok. I feel like I get to appreciate God’s love for me knowing that I’m still His even at my lowest. For me, this leads me to just be in awe of Him and worship.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 4, 2020 at 6:41 pm

      Hey Carlos! I resonate with a lot of what you’ve said here – the warnings against being a lukewarm Christian who Jesus would spit out of his mouth, ideas about if you weren’t moving forward in faith, you were backsliding as there was no standing still.

      I love your idea of progressive sanctification and how understanding that has led you to a place of less judgement for others and, I’d imagine, for yourself too! That is definitely an area I’d like to grow in – grace for myself along any point of the journey and being present where I am, instead of always looking forward to the place I eventually want to be.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 5, 2020 at 7:16 am

        Thanks Amanda! It’s definitely helped to be less judgmental on others and myself. However, there have been times that I fall hard and at that low point its difficult to accept this truth. Its easier to preach this and give grace to others than taking it in for myself at times. But in the end God is faithful and snaps me out of it. Praying for you as you go on this journey.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Love how you highlight the ways in which this journey ought to make us more tender and understanding toward others. And really excellent point about how new orientation eventually becomes the old orientation that must be re-interrogated in disorientation. Yes, it’s a cycle but it gives way to hope rather than futility because of its relational nature.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Brueggemann’s description of the movement of the psalms from orientation to disortientation to new orientation as counter cultural resonated deeply with me. So often we feel a need to “move on” or “move forward” in our culture, at least I do. This framing allows me to understand the deeper need for periods of lament and discomfort as well as the need for periods of new orientation and allowing for God’s work in my life to be celebrated. All of these are good and important in their own way. I appreciated the living, breathing interpretation of the Psalms he presented and the idea that in order to have a full picture of our own interpretations of these writings we need to use both scholarly pursuit as well as devotional faith. This directly translates to our spiritual lives as Christians. We need to understand the context of the writings but also give over to the mystical, deeply human realities they bring to mind. We cannot have one without the other, just as we cannot truly have the joy and thanksgiving without the lament.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      I also really appreciated how Brueggemann is attempting to bridge scholarly and devotional readings of the Bible! He articulated the gap I’ve felt between scholarly and popular books on Christianity. I think there’s so much that academic study of Scripture can offer to our devotional approaches, and vice versa. So like you, I’m trying to hold all those approaches in tension.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 4:23 pm

      Yes, I loved how he described the “mystical experience” of scripture and meeting God in it. He seems like he has worked hard to leave room for mystery while also holding a critical analysis, and that is something I aspire to do as well.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 1, 2020 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks for noting how counter-cultural this reading is, Sarah. Similarly, I appreciated Brueggemann naming that fact that this approach to the life of faith is fundamentally different than how culture shapes us. I found this line especially poignant and powerful: “In a society that engages in great denial and grows numb by avoidance and denial, it is important to use these Psalms that speak the truth about us…” (22). I have been thinking a lot lately of the importance of public lament, and the church’s role in modeling well this response. I am grateful anytime I see someone publicly sharing their grief, rather than hiding it. I’m hopeful that we will see a turn in public spaces—toward greater willingness to name our grief—as we all continue to experience the overwhelming weight of this moment. And, I am hopeful that we will realize the deep value of the treasures of Christian tradition here—especially the Spirituals.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 11:36 am

      Thank you, Sarah, for pointing out the “*need* for lament and discomfort” and the need to understand the “mystical, deeply human realities.” Not only do we too quickly reach for prescriptions that numb our pain, you point out how we expect progress and improvement as signs of strength when so often the opposite would be truer and more life giving.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 28, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Brueggemann suggests that most people in our modern day society focus on the success’s, avoiding pain, leading us to skim over the psalms that deal with what he would call psalms of “disorientation.” This is true, but I personally believe my focus has been a little different. As a product of my modern upbringing I do focus on the new orientation, the successes, but also on the disorientation, the pain, thus seeking psalms of disorientation as a means to connect to God on a deeper level. But what I have not focused on would be what Brueggemann calls, “orientation.” This to me is the mundane, the status quo, and this is the part of the psalms that I tend to ignore. Organizing the psalms into the groupings of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation helps me to see all three kinds of psalms as equally important, which helps me to see which kinds of psalms I tend to skim over or avoid, and why.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      I feel like I had quite the opposite experience. The psalms of orientation were most of what was presented in church on Sunday’s, as boring or mundane as they were. Success was not to be shouted too loudly in the fear of being called proud. Pain, doubt, questioning was not to be so much as whispered for fear of being looked at with weak faith or considered disbelieving. I do agree with you that digging into these psalms of disorientation can bring relationship and connection.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 11:40 am

      Thanks, Eric. It is instructive to see hear about different experiences. It’s probably even the case that temperamentally, some of us are more inclined toward orientation, disorientation, or new orientation. Come to think of it, there are probably Enneagram types that could be broken down by their innate penchant for one over the others.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 28, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    When someone is in a valley, they tend to see their whole world as that valley. It’s so easy, as someone looking into their life, to also see a persons whole world as the valley they are in. But I have found that God can do a lot of work through the simple act of seeing a person as more than their valley. Sometimes that outside perspective can give the encouragement to get through it.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 28, 2020 at 11:56 pm

    Can you even imagine a point in time where everything seemed hopeless? A sense of impending doom and a rising death toll spiraling out of control around us? What would be the response? Bruggemann is right in suggesting that viewing such a time could be countercultural. That our cultural experience and focus pushes past the discomfort to try and regain some sense of “normalcy.”

    It’s interesting to read through this, especially living in the midst of the context that 2020 has brought us, and looking at the response that Evangelical Christianity has provided for much of the US, versus what Bruggemann’s model suggests — a model that suggests that perhaps 2020 is our time to move into disorientation and new orientation whereby we deconstruct and rebuild our communities to reflect a greater call to social justice.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 2:28 pm

      It’s my deepest hope that this difficult time is going to shift us into a new orientation where, as you say, we will value justice and peace. It’s difficult to see right now, because everything is still in such disarray. But it’s comforting to know that God sits with us through the disarray, even when it seems that God is absent.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 1, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      Thanks for noting the longing so present today for a return to “normalcy.” Of course, when so much of life feels disorienting, such a longing is understandable. But I appreciated Stanley Hauerwas’s comments made early on in the pandemic that he wasn’t so confident we had an “old normal.” I also appreciate you naming that Brueggemann’s framework of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation might be more helpful here. This posture encourages both a willingness to name the profound hurt, frustration, and grief of our present moment, without simply longing for life to return to what it was before. What is to come will necessarily surprise us, Brueggemann suggests (something our culture encourages us to resist as much as loss), rather than merely conform to our former ways of life. Yet, in that surprising newness of things, we can rightly have hope.

      I also appreciate the participatory language you use as you name the movement from disorientation to new orientation, one of recognizable and pronounced justice. How do you understand the language of God’s sovereignty in Brueggemann’s reflection with a simultaneous call for our participation?

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 2, 2020 at 6:48 pm

        I can’t say for certain, but I feel that God’s sovereignty often calls us towards morality and choices. In the same way that a carpenter doesn’t will a piece of furniture to exist, God uses us to bring about His sovereignty.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 11:54 am

      You’re raising a really great point and question, Ellie. Given our various intersectional identities, we will experience these shared cultural moments differently, and yet the collective resistance to facing this moment of disorientation, or the rush to move too quickly to solutions can do more harm than good.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 29, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    Brueggemann’s framework for the psalms is focused on the individual’s spiritual journey, but I’ve been reflecting more on how this cycle is reflected within the broader Biblical narrative (alluded to in p20-22). Orientation, disorientation, and new orientation replays throughout the story of the Bible. Eden, the fall, and God’s covenant with Noah. From settling in Egypt, to slavery, to deliverance. From the Promised Land, to exile, and then a return. In the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. How might we locate ourselves in the Biblical narrative within the context of Brueggemann’s framework? How might the narrative arc of the New Testament give new meaning to this framework? And how might this affect the way we think about our calling as the Church in this moment?

    (I’m trying not to sound weird and scary by talking about eschatology, bear with me.) Within the Biblical narrative, we currently stand between the Christ’s ascension and His second coming, between a moment of disorientation and new orientation, and yet also in the light of new orientation found in Christ’s resurrection. Perhaps a way to think of the calling of the Church is that of bearing witness to the new orientation of the Resurrection and the ultimate new orientation found in the Second Coming. The Kingdom is both present and not yet.

    Whether we imagine the second coming of Christ as literal or metaphorical, I believe the charge for us remains the same. We enact righteousness and justice on earth as an “amen” to Christ’s proclamation that the Kingdom is at hand, and out of hope in the promise of a new heavens and new earth. In the long spiritual journey of the world as a whole, may we lead the way towards being able to see the existing gift and future hope of a new orientation for all of Creation, that we might enter into “glad communion with Yahweh” (p 195).

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 3:12 am

      I think its interesting how we can be told that something is linear, but then take that same work and recognize that it is cyclical or circular, like the Bible or the larger Biblical narrative. I think its fascinating that if we were to walk in a complete circle (like on a globe), it could feel like we were walking along a straight line, we actually end up back where we started (this is actually a theme that I kind of explore/demonstrate a bit in my documentary HuanDao 環島).

      In my music analysis course in my grad program, we talked about the European emphasis on linear time and harmony, particularly in the way that all movement is whittled down often times to I-V-I (Tonic, dominant, tonic) a cadence for those familiar with music theory a bit (I also know that Jeremy Begbie does talks about this in relationship to Christian theology), but I pointed out to my professor that while this is understood as the essential linear progression of narrative within music (home- tension- resolution) is actually circular because it ends where it starts, and how our understanding of the linear versus circular is merely one of perspective. Or perhaps euclidean geometry as opposed to the three dimensional world that we live in?

      I think this makes sense and works with your point about standing always between Christ’s ascension and second coming as cycles of disorientation and new orientation, that which is present and not yet. and to borrow a cheesy line from that 90’s song Closing Time – “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        September 30, 2020 at 12:27 pm

        I feel like the Biblical narrative isn’t circular as much as it is cyclical; rather than arriving at the same point again, patterns repeat as a continual movement towards something. When I gave birth to my daughter, each contraction followed the same pattern – rest, the rise and fall of the pain, and then rest again. Orientation, disorientation, and new orientation. The pattern continued in an increasingly intense cycle until my baby was finally born (5 long days later!). Experiencing childbirth helped me understand all those birth and labor metaphors in the Bible a little more. Like labor leads towards birth, the cycles of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation lead towards the revealing of Christ, first in the Incarnation, and then in the Second Coming. And for the individual, as we are “born again” we experience these cycles similar to childbirth as we work out our salvation, so that Christ might be revealed in us.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 5, 2020 at 12:29 pm

        Thanks, SueAnn. This is fascinating! I love the interdisciplinary perspective you’re bringing here. Yes, there is a lot to unpack about binary we impose between the linear and circular. You may be aware of some of the recent kerfuffle in classical music scholarship: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/21/black-scholars-confront-white-supremacy-in-classical-music

        I won’t pretend to understand the nuances, but I found insights like this really helpful:

        “The whiteness of classical music is, above all, an American problem. The racial and ethnic makeup of the canon is hardly surprising, given European demographics before the twentieth century. But, when that tradition was transplanted to the multicultural United States, it blended into the racial hierarchy that had governed the country from its founding. The white majority tended to adopt European music as a badge of its supremacy.”

        I hope you’ll keep bringing these different perspectives!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      I’m really digging this, Yising. I’ve been thinking about the role of liminal space – the time between what was and what will be – especially as we approach Advent, in the midst of such a crazy year of disruption for most everyone. Your last paragraph is so hopeful to me. “We enact righteousness and justice on earth as an “amen” to Christ’s proclamation that the Kingdom is at hand, and out of hope in the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.” I might quote you in my Advent sermon, if you’ll allow it. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 4, 2020 at 10:07 pm

        @rachael I’d be honored if you quoted me! That is so kind.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 5, 2020 at 1:20 pm

        Yes, it’s quote-worthy!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 3, 2020 at 11:42 am

      This is a great observation, Yising! This schema seems to apply pretty broadly. We could even apply this to a career, education, marriage, etc. I found this particular reading comforting. I no longer have to fear disorientation.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks for this very helpful reminder to keep the communal dimension in view. And a good encouragement to remember that, while much of western Christianity tends to domesticate Scripture for therapeutic purposes, often there is something else happening in the text that we miss to our peril.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 30, 2020 at 2:37 am

    When I was in undergrad, I attended our annual RUF summer conference in Florida, and I attended a workshop on “Christian Freedom”. At the time, I don’t think I fully understood how much that seminar would revolutionize my orientation towards my faith and Christian walk, but the speaker talked about how often we characterized our relationship to God as merely obedience, but that God wanted to make these dry bones breathe again, to live again, and that part of our regeneration, reanimation, resurrection was total transformation into a desire for righteousness, our sanctification so to speak.

    The pastor talked about his own relationship to alcohol as an example, when he was in college, partying and being a drunkard, then the pendulum swinging in the other direction of piety and total abstinence, and how both were driven by sinfulness, the second being a desire to be right, follow the rules, pridefulness. How then were we to have a response rooted in Christian freedom, knowing that we are not condemned in drinking, we have the freedom to be drunkards but the transformation that Jesus desires in us and the Gospel is doing is helping us reorient to having a healthy relationship to alcohol?

    This came to mind when I was reading Brueggemann’s “From Obedience to Praise, Duty to Delight”. I think that so much of my Christian walk has been this kind of growth in the last 10 years of my life. The most famous and well known opening line of the Westminster Catechism also came to mind for me: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. I think in the New Calvinist movement, I have often heard people emphasize the first part of the answer, waxing on “God’s Glory,” but I often heard less people talk about the second part of enjoying God forever.

    I think that God is most glorified in our joy, and we cannot know joy without the whole range of human experiences and emotions. “If we aren’t capable of being hurt, we aren’t capable of feeling joy”- Madeline L’engle, <u style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>The Ring of Endless Light. This resonates for me with Brueggemann’s orientation, disorientation, and new orientation which leads to the road of praise and delight. Our movement through the cycles of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation are not evidence of a lack of faith or growth (as some would probably think backsliding), but cyclic progress of faith.

    The Psalms are those seasons of human life, movement, light, change, the impressionist haystacks I spoke of last week. I think we can understand the Psalms like the impressionist paintings, the haystacks that we come back to again and again to examine and repaint again to see new colors, nuances, and lights. I am encouraged to see the Psalms in this new light and way and to understand it in light of that which God has encouraged and taught me in life.

    I also thought I might share this song from the Sufjan Stevens album that recently came out called “The Ascension”, I thought the song and it’s lyrics resonated well with our topic this week. I think he speaks of his own movement and journey of faith through orientation, disorientation, and new orientation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgFlMY2glD4

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 6:10 am

      That quote from the Westminster Catechism is such a grounding one! I find it really compelling to dwell on what it could mean to “glorify God and enjoy God forever” in light of the Psalms and the many seasons of life. This will look different based on each season (as it should and is reflected in the Psalms), but the main focus is the same and has the potential to provide a sense of clarity in the midst of seasons of disorientation. Thank you for sharing that.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Your reflection made me recall a quote by Parker Palmer: “The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings.”

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        September 30, 2020 at 7:45 pm

        Thanks for sharing that quote Jessica, it resonated really deeply with me

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 5, 2020 at 7:59 pm

        Oh wow, love this quote Jessica! Thank you for sharing.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Beautiful insight, SueAnn: “I think we can understand the Psalms like the impressionist paintings, the haystacks that we come back to again and again to examine and repaint again to see new colors, nuances, and lights.” There is this organic, powerful connection between the Psalms and us because at bottom, it’s a shared human connection.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 30, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    Brueggemann’s grouping of the psalms into orientation, disorientation, and new orientation is a helpful way to examine the book of Psalms as a whole. As Brueggemann points out, it is problematic that we leave some of the psalms out of our liturgical and devotional practice because they aren’t the “nice” psalms. We tend to avoid content that makes us uncomfortable, or forces us to confront painful realities. This is especially a problem during times like these, when we need a word that speaks to the disorientation we are experiencing in our world. Sometimes things aren’t nice, and part of the gift of the Bible is that it reflects that. But we don’t have to dwell in despair either – the psalms of “new orientation” help us look to a time when our attitudes and our circumstances will shift in a new direction. This is the hope of the second coming of Christ – that we will experience a new orientation when the kingdom of God arrives on Earth.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 3:50 pm

      As a worship pastor, I’ve struggled with picking and choosing the Psalms that are most uplifting, and least problematic 🙂 though it’s been very enriching to bring in the heart-wrenching, “what the f*ck, God” ones as well!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 2, 2020 at 6:43 pm

        I am right there with you, Rachael! When I worked in Catholic music ministry, it was common practice to have a “seasonal” Psalm to play if the week’s readings didn’t include a Psalm that we liked or if we didn’t have a musical setting of the Psalm — which, guess what? There aren’t many musical settings of the Psalms that question God or His goodness.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, Jessica. Yes, and this might be a helpful diagnostic. To the extent that we are selective with the Psalms, we are selective with theology and spirituality more broadly. And Rachael’s observation is really helpful – how could it not help our approach to worship (and, I’d add, preaching)!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 30, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    The most freeing “a-ha” of my religious life was when I understood that the journey of faith is neither linear nor confined to the stages I had been taught: unbelief to belief, the end. Faith, like human maturity, is cyclical and messy and paradoxical. We return to moments of unbelief, or perhaps the same struggle that seems to plague us, time and again. But the truth of the Psalter reminds us that upon each visit to that moment of unbelief or struggle, we are already different than we were the previous time. And each moment holds the promise of reorientation and hope; of growth and renewal.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      I would like to echo this a-ha moment. As freeing as that moment can be, it was quickly followed by an “oh crap” moment. I know needed to re-evaluate everything I was ever taught and learned! It actually comes as a relief to hear that faith can be messy. I found comfort in the way Brueggemann broke out the psalms into different categories.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks, Rachael. Chewing on this nugget of wisdom: “upon each visit to that moment of unbelief or struggle, we are already different than we were the previous time.” There is a great deal of dignity and freedom in recognizing that we are dynamic individuals in a process of change, growth, learning.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 30, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    In my religious background and experience, the focus seemed to be on psalms of orientation. Because to enter the church, I should be on the right path and continue on that path. The acknowledgment of any sort of disorientation would mean doubt or questioning. Why would the church allow for this when they have all the answers? Have it all together, or at least pretend you do, is the superficial experience in my most formative years. Over the last couple years, I have found friends, pastors, and churches where questioning is not only accepted, but encouraged. The decisive moves of faith that Brueggemann talks about are healthy. They are reality. They allow for a healthy relationship to exist. It’s ok to hold suffering and lament, for out of it can blossom newness and hope. I now have a greater appreciation for the complete book of psalms, especially the disorienting and new orienting ones.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Brandon. I can very much relate to this. It’s as if we erased or blocked out of our minds the fact that there were laments, pleas for vengeance, cries of despair in the Psalter. We opted instead for a vision of sterile purity, unshakeable faith, unmitigated praise. Shockingly blind.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 1, 2020 at 6:54 am

    Reading Bruggeman’s perspective on the Psalms, I am reminded of Peter Choi’s teaching on the “long journey” and the emphasis placed on the relationship with God that believers have. Like any relationship, it was said, there are “peaks” and “valleys”, periods of disconnection and reconnection. I love that this is reflected in the Psalter, and gives a realistic representation of the life of a person of faith. I also found it compelling how Bruggeman leaves space for ambiguity when defining which Psalm fits which theme. When I was younger, I was determined to figure out which “phase” I was in my relationship with God. Was I in a peak season or a valley season? It wasn’t until I became older that I realized determining which “phase” I was in did nothing but cause anxiety and over-reflection. It did not draw me closer to God or make space for illumination. Likewise, a preoccupation with which theme a Psalm fits may do little but cause unnecessary categorization. Instead, the themes can be held loosely and “spontaneously” as he calls it. I like to see my relationship with God in this light too, not holding too tightly to categories but embracing the nuance of the daily rhythms of the life of faith.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 1, 2020 at 8:46 am

      I really identify with the comfort with ambiguity that you describe. I’m a very Type A person who wants to “Do things right” and have others do the same. I often need to be reminded that there is space for many approaches and that ambiguity is an important part of our journey.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Great insights here, Corinne. The preoccupation with incessant spiritual DTR-ing was the height of navel-gazing, self-centered spirituality. Thank you for tracing your movement, to not holding too tightly, loosening your grip – a very helpful image.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 1, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Brueggemann’s groupings of the psalms seem to be comparable to human history in which humans have lived in God’s love and grace. The orientation, disorientation, and new orientation are the forms in which most humans live. He sets his own path and does his best for it, but he falls apart after suffering or losing to himself, and then he rises anew. This is also true of Christian spirituality. Full confidence in God’s creation, and soon-to-be-destroyed belief, and recovery. I have lived such a life as well. I served the church as a pastor in Korea, but it is not much different from this form. Perhaps not only me but all of us will continue to live in this form. But I just try and expect that God’s grace will stop me from going through this process.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      Thank you for these great connections, between human history, Christian spirituality, and the pastoral life. Yes, these movements happen in all of the above, and the key question is whether we will have the wisdom to discern them.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    October 1, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Walter Brueggemann’s “Introduction” to The Message of the Psalms offers several helpful approaches to grouping or understanding the Psalms, referencing the contributions of Gunkel, Mowinckel, and Westermann, before introducing the three-fold movement of Psalms of Orientation, Disorientation, and New Orientation. Brueggemann’s commitment to both critical study and the life of faith (“to be belief-full, that is, in the service of the church’s best, most responsible faith,” (19)) is refreshing and personally helpful. The life of faith conveyed here is one that is expectantly dynamic, not static—while still insisting on our rightful surprise at the newness of things when transitions inevitably come. A Christian spirituality informed by the entirety of the psalms teaches us to expect seasons of profound disruption, for example, without eliminating the surprising nature of such disorientation. We are right to feel anger, disappointment, resentment, and more when the bottom falls out from under us. However, we are comforted by the reminder that this, too, is rightly understood as having to do with God and, thus must be brought to God (20). This understanding is comforting without being condescending or minimizing. It is not gaslighting. It is not to deny what is real to one’s experience. But it does put the experience of alienation and corresponding response of lament within a bigger framework, which is not reduced to one’s personal or communal experience of disorientation. Nor does this posture suggest a rush to promises of resolution, or “new orientation.” Resolution may come, and it may even be rightly hoped for and expected, but the understanding offered here is that the when and how of its arrival will be a surprise, beyond what we can imagine, plan, or manufacture on our own best efforts.

    While I wouldn’t say this grouping of the psalms
    into orientation, disorientation, and new orientation “adds to” my understanding
    of Christian spirituality (I’ve read and appreciated this wisdom before), it is
    a welcome and timely reminder. This articulation of the landscape of a life of
    faith reminds me that, even as I am in the liminal space between disorientation
    and new orientation, I am not alone—or, at least, not as alone as I have felt. In recent months, I have felt the end of so many things central to
    the core of who I am: my marriage, my job, and some of my closest friendships.
    There have been times recently where I have gone to bed feeling profoundly
    alone, sad, resentful, confused, and overwhelmed, with no apparent horizon on this experience. At
    times, I have felt like I am waking up on mars, struggling to name, let alone
    navigate, this entirely new, completely foreign territory. But in this reading,
    I am reminded that God is not outside of or alien to this experience of a “personal
    end of the world” (20). Without feeling pithy or cheap, this reading reminds me
    that here, too, God is present—perhaps especially so. And, just as
    importantly, this reading reminds me that, even in my experiences, I am not suddenly or somehow
    outside of the communion of those who have gone before me or who presently share the
    journey of Christian spirituality. Shared language suggests shared experience. For that, I
    give thanks.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 1, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      Ryan, thank you for reminding us that understanding the journey of faith helps us enter into communion with one another as we recognize our shared experiences. That is probably the most important part of this framework of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation – it helps us find a way to connect with God and each other in all the different, dynamic seasons of life, not just when we are steady or settled. And thank you for sharing so honestly about your current moment. Grace and peace to you as you navigate this new phase of your life.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 2, 2020 at 9:58 am

        Absolutely agreed. I am grateful for that realization in this reading and reflection, too, Yising. And many thanks for your kind words of encouragement and wishes of peace and grace in response to the recent experiences of desolation in my own journey. I appreciate that very much.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 2:42 pm

      Many thanks for this, Ryan. Your honesty and sobriety about the reality of the psalter are powerful and there is some really beautiful but also wrenching language here about the experience of traveling into uncharted territory. That “liminal space between disorientation and new orientation” is excruciatingly painful, so painful we rarely pause to think about it. Your wise, pastoral reflection from that difficult place is immensely important.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        October 5, 2020 at 6:33 pm

        Thank you very much for saying so, Peter. I’m grateful for the ways our recent readings are inviting deeper reflection, a compassionate community in which to do this reflection, and language that helps hold these experiences.

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