Landscapes of Desire / Can We Chant Psalms with All God's Creatures?

Belden C. Lane

in Ravished by Beauty

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755080
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894956 | DOI:
Landscapes of Desire / Can We Chant Psalms with All God's Creatures?

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The Psalms insist that we share with other creatures a common desire for God. We take part in a mutual performance of ritual life. We participate in a deeply embodied experience of communal praise. We even find ourselves joined together in reciprocal grief. This chapter does not aim to anthropomorphize the “intentionality” of other-than-human beings. Other species “offer praise,” as humans do, by simply being what they are. They imitate God in being most perfectly the particular falcon or fern they were made to be. Psalmic language doesn't distinguish between praise that arises out of human consciousness and praise that other species offer in voices of their own, it assumes a continuity of responsiveness to God across the entire creation, something we as humans don't readily grasp. The goal, then, is not to “explain” the praise of other species, but simply to report the startling sense of shared responsiveness that the biblical hymns portray. Norman Habel's Earth Bible Project is an example of scholars beginning to take seriously this phenomenon. They interpret Scripture from an ecological perspective—giving voice to the earth in the biblical text in the same way as feminist and liberationist hermeneutics have sought to retrieve the voices of women and the poor.

Keywords: Psalms; share responsiveness; praise; God; Psalmic language; Norman Habel; Early Bible Project

Chapter.  4656 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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