August 16: Change We Can Believe In

We all have our gorgeous rituals, although I like mine milk-free.

Psalms 100 to 109 today, blurbed with the customary this-was-used-by-the-finest-people attitude that puts the "classy" in "classics": "Burdened souls in all ages have found comfort in these songs that once were used in the gorgeous ritual of Jerusalem's temple." Like it's not enough that they're comforting, they were also used in a gorgeous ritual in a foreign capital. (For some reason it reminds me of an old National Lampoon ad for Ohio-made wine: "If you sent it to France, it would taste imported!")

The HC uses "Jehovah" in the Psalms in place of "The Lord," so you don't Christianize these gorgeous ritual accessories; that's a good thing, because then you can allow the Psalms to mean exactly what they say. So when you hear promises like
JEHOVAH saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Or
Blessed is the man that feareth Jehovah,
That delighteth greatly in his commandments.

His seed shall be mighty upon earth:
The generation of the upright shall be blessed.

Wealth and riches are in his house;
Or
Jehovah is on my side among them that help me:
Therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
We can, at least this time, assume that our desire for our enemies means something closer to a Chicago smile than a fruitful exchange of views based on a framework of mutual understanding. Prosperity means prosperity, not "inner prosperity" -- Jehovah delivers the goods, that's the theme of Psalm 102 and 105. You think this temple got gorgeous all by itself? Not hardly, my friend.

The only inward looking one of this bunch, in fact, is 109, which seems like it was written by the sensitive one of the family, the only one who didn't go into politics even though there was a safe Assembly seat there for the taking:
My soul breaketh for the longing
That it hath unto thine ordinances at all times.

Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed,
That do wander from thy commandments.

Take away from me reproach and contempt;
For I have kept thy testimonies.

Princes also sat and talked against me;
But thy servant did meditate on thy statutes.

Thy testimonies also are my delight
And my counsellors.
You can see why his heart is breaking. Wouldn't most of us side with the princes? Even some of the other Psalms do, kind of, for what characterizes a prince more than wanting to fulfill his desire?

Some folks say that we should get religion out of politics, but how is that possible, if politics is built into the religion in the first place?

Photo of the rather overpraised Intelligentsia Coffee Shop in Silverlake by flickr user Kelsey*, used with a Creative Commons license.

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