Living Psalms — a re-engagement with an old oracle — Guest post Marvin K White

Living Psalms project which is a beginning model for the eventually much more detailed Emancipatory Liberation Psalter. It is an opportunity to put particular graced content into the Psalms portion of’s Worshipways from Advent through Lent this year and see how folks respond and then tinker some more … The writers UCC WRRRLDDD Leaders are artist/activists and come from a wide range of faith traditions (it is the platform in this project which is United Church of Christ) The psalms re-engaged and speaking out to our world, sometimes a re-speaking of the psalm, a litany or responsive reading  some readers’ theatre, movement, engagement, art or dance.

Just to introduce folks to this concept I re-print Marvin K White’s telling out of Psalm 36.

Psalm 36:1(NKJV) An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked …

An Oracle Within My Heart Concerning Oracles

Here is an oracular reading of Psalm 36. You have to read it as if you have come to me because you believe that God is speaking to me (and that you have paid $20 for the honor of doing so.)

Of dreams, it is said that we are everything and everyone, in ours. The thing chasing us and the us running, we are both. The thing falling from the sky, the sky, the windrush, the calculation to groundhit, the wings, the take flight, the “before it’s too late”, the “too late”, the life flashing before our eyes, the flash, the eyes and the light—everything. Each thing that is archived in the dream and brought into our knowing as memory, and each thing that fades into the backdrop and background of the dream that is lost on us and to us, all of it collapsed, are the symbols that God speaks to us through. Our questions and quests turn into symbols.

Of oracles, if you’re a really good one, God is lining up your symbols in a pattern that is made articulate by you. God is throwing God’s voice through your symbols. Your symbols become vehicles for God. You surrender control to God. You are being shown what God has seen in God’s present. God’s present is past, present and future. God shares a proprietary vision with the oracle, and that vision can only speak into it’s, the oracle’s context and into its presence. In the oracular realm, dreams are made of symbols, symbols become knowledge, knowledge becomes certainty, and certainty becomes material. The oracle and God are everything and everyone in Psalm 36.

We are the within. We are the “my”. We are the heart. We are the concern. We are the transgression. We are the wicked. We are God. We are the eyes that sees before God and we are God experiencing God’s self as unafraid of God. Everything.

Of God, alpha and omega that God is, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient that God is, the oracle is God and the oracle is God. God has to become the wicked that God has turned into history, and deliver that news to the oracle in symbols. God never gets in the oracle’s face. God is the one flattering their selves. God’s own words are wicked and deceitful. The oracle; the dreamcatcher, the dreamlanding, the dreamspeaker, translates the symbols into contemporary terms. The oracle is the God confession and the oracle is the God exoneration. The oracle is the forewarning and the forewarned. The oracle is telling God how this does not have to be God’s history.

We are told and the untold. We are the cursed and the curser. We are the lost place and the cursor. We are the erased and the eraser. We are the diminished and the diminisher. We are the lie and the lied on. We are the left out and the insertion. We are the history and the “not history” in the dream.

We are everything that God has created and everything that God has created is us. We are the inputs and the outcomes. We are the possibilities and the fixed set. We are the intrinsic and the extrinsic. Everything. The audience, the gender, the questions, the mystery—all of it. We are not outside of what we speak into the room. We are the spoken and the room. We are the evil and we are the lovingkindness that can offer itself up to evil as a way forward. Everything. We are the impending doom and we are God’s “Third Law”: For every symbolic action in a dream there is an equal and opposite symbolic reaction, namely joy, that forces these two acts upon one another. “One day,” the oracle says, “We will not create bad news to go with the good news. One day,” the oracle continues, “We will allow the joy unspeakable, to come into being. One day,” the oracle waking will say, “We will know that we are everything to God and God is everything to us.”

Marvin K. White, MDiv, is currently serving as the Interim Minister of Celebration at GLIDE Church in San Francisco. He is the Artivist in Residence and part of the Arts Program Team at the Oakland Peace Center. He was the Public Theologian in Residence (’17-’18) at First Church Berkeley and a recent Yerba Buena Center for the Arts “Equity” Fellow (’16-’17). He is the author of four collections of poetry: Our Name Be Witness; Status; and the two Lammy-nominated (Lambda) collections last rights and nothin’ ugly fly. He is articulating a vision of social, prophetic and creative justice through his work as a poet, artist, teacher, collaborator, preacher, cake baker, and Facebook Statustician.


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1 Response to Living Psalms — a re-engagement with an old oracle — Guest post Marvin K White

  1. Pingback: Pandemic Psalms for Second Sunday after Epiphany – Cooking with Elsa

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