Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Psalms, Children, and Emotions

Seminary courses are officially over here at VTS now, and final projects are coming in. I had a wonderful group of a dozen students in my Psalms seminar (OT 205) this spring, several of whom have produced rather wonderful and creative final projects for me. Over the coming days I plan to post samples of these projects here on my blog.

I would like to start today with a project by graduating senior Sandra S., which aims to apply the book of Psalms in the nurture and formation of children. After much study and reflection both on the form-criticism of psalms and the emotional and spiritual development of children, Sandra created a new "psalm of lament" with a flowing narrative about a young child who is sick. I present here in this post (below).

There are several features of the project that distinguish it markedly from the standard ways that psalms are presented in commercially available children's books. These standard publications are rarely true to the "pattern of prayer"---the careful spiritual structure and flow---of the biblical psalms, and they rarely, if ever, avail themselves of the robust theology of lament. Sandra's project is a real gift in that it unabashedly concentrates on the lament form. This form is particularly powerful in taking seriously the voice of what W. Brueggemann calls "the lesser petitionary party." That is, it grants to one in the position of a child the chance to be listened to (by God, by authority) with full engagement. Also, in children's hands, this form of the biblical lament affirms the naturalness of difficult emotions of unfairness, injustice, and deep hurt. In addition, and unlike most Bible-related children's books, the lament form allows children to claim maturity and ego-strength in relation to God, indeed even to be empowered to challenge the status quo, the way things are always presented as "givens" to be learned and passively accepted.

Here is the project in poem and photographic illustration. Click the slide-pages to enlarge. Comments welcome.

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2 Comments:

Blogger King of Peace said...

Excellent. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Wed May 13, 08:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Cathy said...

Ditto, thank you for sharing this.

Wed May 13, 08:45:00 PM GMT-5  

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