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Paperback Spirituality of the Psalms Book

ISBN: 0800634500

ISBN13: 9780800634506

Spirituality of the Psalms

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Based on the bestseller, The Message of the Psalms, this condensed version offers readers simple insight for how the Psalms apply to every season of life.The Psalms nourish and nurture. The Psalms provide voices of faith in the life of community. In this shortened version of The Message of the Psalms, Dr. Brueggemann provides an insightful perspective and a structured overview of the Psalms using three categories: orientation, disorientation, and...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

a tiny gem

This little book, which is an abridged version of Brueggemann's longer volume The Message of the Psalms (1984), explains why the "strange literature" of the Psalms has had such an abiding influence on Christians down through the centuries. In particular, Brueggemann shows how and why the "psalms of negativity," largely neglected by believers because they sound so harsh and are thus embarrassing, remain so relevant to the personal, pastoral, and public dimensions of Christian life today. He does not treat all the Psalms, or even most of them, but instead offers a threefold scheme to understand the theological trajectory of these powerful poems--psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation, and psalms of new orientation. In my own experience I agree wholeheartedly with Brueggemann when he writes that today "much Christian piety and spirituality is romantic and unreal in its positiveness...But such a way not only ignores the Psalms; it is a lie in terms of our experience." The "psalms of negativity" are thus profoundly subversive because they help us to embrace what we try so very hard to deny, that is, the darkness, self-deception, and overall disorientation that characterizes much of life. Our culture prizes success and control, and even does not like surprises. But the Psalms, says Brueggemann, point us to a twofold movement of faith. First, we move from a settled orientation to a season of disorientation. Then, we move on to a new orientation that comes to us as a surprise gift of God's grace. Of course, this cycle continues and repeats itself throughout life. The "stunning fact," writes Brueggemann, "is that Israel does not purge this unrestrained speech but regards it as genuinely faithful communication" with God. That should be no less true today than three millennia ago when these poem-prayers were first written. Far from a literature that we should shun or explain away, these psalms offer to us a unique "healing candor."

Very useful for understanding the Psalms: Readable and telling...

In both private and public prayer, in reading for pleasure the Psalms as they are published in "The Book of Common Prayer" and in both my King James Bible, and NSRV, I have sought meaning and understanding. In an effort to gain that end, I turn to intelligent commentaries for help. "Spirituality of the Psalms" by Walter Brueggemann is such a book, and it is a readable, slim one from Fortress Press--a mere 74 pages as I note from my copy. I have welcomed this title into my home, with its dramatic black & white illustration on the cover. It is a favorite not only for me, but for others with whom I've said: "Have you read this book?" Sometimes the blurb on the back cover of a book is hyperbole, but the statement, "Brief, brilliant treatments of vital aspects of faith and life" rings true. I will restrain myself from writing a glowing review, for that measure would betray the dignified and dignified writing style of this book on faith. Categorized under the definition "Hebrew Bible," and this certainly is an accurate categorization I think, the paperback copy I own is for readers who wish explanation, orientation, and educational illumination regardless of being Christian or Jewish. In this review I have tended towards my own uses for the book, and I could say those are the pastoral uses. The author, in his preface, tells the reader the various kinds of ways he addresses the purposes of his writing. Here I want to pause a moment, and tell you reader that the book is illuminating. It will give you ideas, and explain things to you as a reader in ways that you will find helpful and interesting. But for my purposes, here is a way I found the book useful, in Walter Brueggemann's words from the book's preface: "In an attempt to be 'postcritical,' I have had in mind especially the pastoral use of the Psalms. By that I mean how the Psalms may function as voices of faith in the actual life of the believing community. So I have sought to consider the interface between the flow of the Psalms and the dynamics of our common life." I think there are many readers of the Psalms, some for their private interest, and others like me who also follow them in public and private worship. The Psalms speak to us. One cares about them, they offer a wider life, a connection to God, an explanation of our existence. The book offers: "Human life consists in satisfied seasons of well-being that evoke gratitude for the constancy of blessing. Matching this we will consider 'psalms of orientation,' which in a variety of ways articulate the joy, delight, goodness, coherence, and reliability of God, God's creation, and God's governing law." Please note that there is wisdom in this book about the Psalms, and it will be apparent to you on reading the book. Of the book's direction, the purpose lies in a book of both orientation and disorientation. "This may be an abrupt or a slowly dawning acknowledgment. It constitutes a dismantling of the old, known world and a relinquishing o

Brueggemann Shines Again

Barbara and I both avidly admire The Psalms and Dr. Brueggemann. Our greatest expectation for the summer is to hear him preach and teach at the Presbyterian Conference on Music and Worship at Montreat. I am deeply indebted to him for his keenly inspired commentary on GENESIS. For two quarters of Preaching Genesis, I have tuned-into his studies in depth to prepare several sermons and hear young students at MERCER/McAFEE School of Theology preach their sermons inspired by Brueggemann.This little gem of a book is the abridged version of The Message of Psalms. In his final chapter of the shorter version, he focuses on God's Justice. There he sites his thesis of three dimensions of 'orientation, disorientation and reorientation:'* It is pathological to challenge the present order of economic and political power.* It is pathological to suggest that God may be unjust.* It is pathological to speak, as some of these psalms do, in a voice of disorientation.Brueggemann inserts 'imprisonment' as one crisis in which the seven psalms of disorientation are best addressed. Here is the one place in all of his books on Psalms where I have read his clearest views on the issue of theodicy. "The struggle of the oppressed against the unjust, when cast theologically, is the issue of theodicy." Only recenty in someone's sermon I read that, "God prefers the losers in life." While serving as the Chaplain in Georgia's Diagnostic Center, I often wondered if this is not the case for a very few of the choicest and often long-termed inmates. I did often repeat the points of Brueggemann's sermons to the inmates for the Sunday evening sermons. One or two were read back to me by inmates in their rehabilitation group discussions. When I repeated that incident one day in a chance meeting with Prof. Brueggemann, he smiled and replied: "Gee, Thanks!"Never before as minister, chaplain or teacher have I discovered so many profound yet simple books by one commentator, especially focused upon the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Thanks and WOW! Chaplain Fred W. Hood
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