Good space, bad space, God space :: Brueggemann's approach to the Psalms
I've been thinking a lot recently about Walter Brueggemann's
approach to the psalms. Basically he suggests a functional approach and sees psalms as speaking from and to three settings in life:
- Psalms of orientation: represent our spirituality when things are going well - "God's in his heaven and all's right with the world".
- Psalms of disorientation: contain our complaints when things go "wrong" and the world seems against us.
- Psalms of reorientation: describe the experience we have when we "come out the other side" and recognize that life's a gift.
Now, with various groups of students, and in my own life, this cycle describes what people live
. We (or at least my students and I) do live through such cycles. It's a useful and illuminating way to read the psalms.
I think of it as the "good space, bad space, God space
" approach, because it's always in the reorientation phase that I feel closer to God.
Now for the rub, "our" (= Western, Internet reading) culture as a whole is clearly in the orientation phase. Individuals may be disoriented (I'm forever talking to them, often I am them) but the culture
is comfortable, thank you.
So, what is an appropriate spirituality
for the "good times"?
At this point Gen-X and my kids will chorus (with some justification) saying that for them
times are hard - they have student debts etc. that I never had - but seriously the TXT generation says 'times are hard'??? No, folks, whatever age we are, we Internet Christians have never ever had it
So, what is the appropriate spirituality?
Hairshirts and flagellants whips? Nooo thanks!
The prosperity gospel? (Could I preach that to my ex-colleagues in Kinshasa... Or to your friend with cancer?)
The eyes-tight-shut, and enjoy-the-feelings spirituality of the world around us...