Sunday, December 7, 2014

What if the Good Shepherd were an abusive parent?

This week in Disciple I Bible study, we were asked to perform a writing exercise called "reverse paraphrase." Theologian Dick Murray developed this technique 30 years ago to help congregants understand the dark, terrifying place--real or spiritual--that the writer of Psalm 23 must have inhabited in order to pen such a beautiful expression of trust and blessing. If you think about it, it makes sense: when do most people turn to Psalm 23? It's not at their brightest moment but in their darkest hour: at funerals, when the Titanic is sinking, when the Twin Towers are on fire and falling. We were asked to rewrite the psalm from the opposite point of view. I went to a very dark place in my imagination, knowing full well that this is some people's reality.

1-The Lord is my abusive parent; I am neglected.
    He takes me to crack houses.
2-He leave me alone in the street.
3-He calls me "stupid."
4-Even though I got a scholarship to college, I don't think I deserve it.
   You couldn't care less. You haven't remembered my birthday in years.
5-You're off shooting up, getting high, and spending my support check.
   You rain blows on my head and spit epithets in my face.
6-Surely hatred and spite will follow me all the days of my life.
   I might as well be an orphan.

Editor's note: Click here to read Dear Husband's reverse paraphrase of Psalm 23, in which the narrator becomes an over-worked pastor trying to go it alone, without God, with disastrous results.

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