Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Looking at life through psalm reading

Recently I developed a good faith habit--reading and praying a few psalms on most days before I get highly involved in activities. When I have hit a dry period of Bible reading, Psalms offers me a breadth of human experience in relationship with God. The Psalms give me a helpful reflection for what I experienced and what I will see. I greatly appreciate the wisdom-type psalms that give me the perspective of experience in living faith in a complex world.

The psalms are deeply emotional at times; when I hit a streak of emotional psalms, I can't read very much, and when I am emotional myself, the last thing I want to do is read. Therefore psalm reading is like building muscle; it may not seem beneficial in the midst of the exercise, the benefit comes when the task requires more effort--like during an emotional time when it's hard to focus on what needs to be done.

I'm currently reading a stretch of psalms in which I find difficult to dig deeper. The psalms in the middle 50's depict borderline paranoia. I guess I worry more about the zealots than the apathetic. The paranoid are those who end up making bad decisions on national or world stages, which could include delirious Muslims, Christians, Jews or any religious tradition. This is where I resonated with the film Religulous. Bill Maher was deeply concerned about religious zealots making decisions for the United States. I tend to agree. However, if the pendulum swings the other way from religious zealots making decisions, a neo-Platonist class of an elitist philosopher king oligarchy might emerge. I think we're far away from that problem, but at least this strain of Maher's ideas is worthy of discussion. A representative republic is still the best place for a balance of interests. Maher tended to focus on one senator from Oklahoma in the film, who had a hard time articulating the relationship between faith and his vocation and public service (the senator even made up words on occasion). This is where I become an advocate for more publicly-funded elections, where ideas have a better chance to be heard, and money is not the highest factor in developing ideas.

Regardless of the psalm content, at the very least my thoughts are provoked in a way that I ponder what God is up to in the world. I find it hard to explain why I drift away from good faith practices, but I'm always glad when I return.

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