Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Help? and Five Miscellaneous Items

Can you help me do my coursework?

I want to get my hands on as many different translations (into English) of the Psalms as I can. I'm setting one of them for some of my academic work, and I want to find just the right words. I don't know enough Hebrew to be able to work directly from the original text so I'm thinking if I look at lots of different translations I can either choose one if it speaks to me particularly strongly, or somehow blend them together. So please tell me your favourite Psalter, and for bonus points, where I can find the text online.

Miscellaneous Item the First:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says in his Easter Sermon:

When all's said and done, the call is to every one of us. We need to hear what is so often the question that's really being asked when people say, 'How do you know?' And perhaps the only response that is fully adequate, fully in tune with the biblical witness to the resurrection is to say simply, 'Are you hungry? Here is food.'

I think this is another way of saying that the way to communicate the existence and indeed love of God to the world is to act as if God exists and loves us, take responsibility for acting for God in the world, teach ourselves to act with lovingkindness. Maybe I am reading too much of my own bias into it. I don't know how I managed to miss this when I was growing up.

I do tend to get caught up in the small details at times. It feels like I need a certain amount of structure and ritual to stay focused on the bigger goal of acting with lovingkindness.

Earlier in the sermon the Archbishop discusses two common responses to the "How do you know God exists?" question. One is to make it so personal, so much a matter of opinion, as to be irrelevant. The other is to try to depersonalize it through a sort of real-world prooftexting. I have often said, when asked about my belief in God, that it is the surest thing I know and yet I will concede on an intellectual level that I could, theoretically, logically, be wrong.

I think I need to qualify that. I know, theoretically, logically, that it's entirely possible that the sun might not rise tomorrow (or that the Earth might stop spinning if you want to be accurate). I know, theoretically, logically, that I could wake up and find that all my life so far has been a dream. Both of those are so unlikely that we simply discount them in everyday life. And yet both of them to me are more likely than God not existing. I know that God lives! I know this through a lived experience, a perceived sense of God that is more reliable than any of my physical senses (after all, sometimes I don't hear things clearly the first time, my sense of smell is quite patchy, and my eyes aren't trustworthy at all until I put my spectacles on in the morning). I've tried to explain this before. But I can't really explain it to anyone who hasn't also experienced it, and everyone's experience may well be slightly different. All I can do is try to show it. I don't think I'll ever get that quite right but it's worth it to keep trying. And somehow I'm paraphrasing the sermon again. Repetitive blog is repetitive.

Hat tip to nearly everyone who linked to the Easter Sermon, but particularly to a certain restless bishop who pointed it out specifically in comments on one of his posts.

Miscellaneous Item the Second:

This is a very beautiful poem.

Miscellaneous Item the Third:

I was up too late last night but still got some academic work done today. Go me! Am determined that tomorrow will be still more productive. It's a little over two months until Big Final Exam. This gives me the Fear. I hope that by then I'll find the love, which is stronger. I almost don't care whether I pass or fail as long as I give an honest and loving performance. But passing would be good, too. Failure would be inconvenient and impractical on a number of levels.

Miscellaneous Item the Fourth:

I had a wonderful conversation with an online friend yesterday about trying to change the world from the current competitive system to a more cooperative one, trying to be an agent for good in the world, trying to show people that they can love and trust, while still acknowledging and mostly avoiding the dangers of the world as it currently exists. I wish now that I'd kept a log of it, because it was the sort of conversation where we were typing nearly on top of one another, nearly identical sentences. And I've had some good online exchanges here and there on other topics (not least in comments on some posts here), and some good, life-and-love-affirming conversations in person about teaching and living. Having friends who agree with me doesn't mean I'm right, of course, it's just the peer selection effect, but it does make me feel quite a bit more hopeful at times. Given how contagious grace can be, it seems to me that maybe together we can make a difference, each in our own little way.

Miscellaneous Item the Fifth:

If I don't go to bed now I'm going to have another painful and unproductive day tomorrow. Can't be having with that.

Goodnight, friends.


Jan said...

Do you want suggestions that are not online? But then, I'm probably thinking of paraphrases, like Nan Merrill's.

Song in my Heart said...

Paraphrases are also useful in this context. Offline resources are still relevant; though I may not have time to hunt them down before starting on this particular piece of coursework they will no doubt be useful in other contexts.

Many thanks.

it's margaret said...

"The Message" has some very interesting takes on the psalms. You can find it online.

I also like the Jerusalem Bible translations.

want more?

Song in my Heart said...

Many thanks Margaret.

More are great if they happen to spring to mind.

I have so much to learn; my background knowledge is broad but with big gaping holes in it.