The Disorientation of Faith

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This is a season of faith disorientation. Our experience of life, the world, and thus also, of God, have been utterly disrupted. It is hard to even imagine what it means to go back to “life as usual.”

Whether it is the grief of lost loved ones, the fear for our own health, or the compounding pain of a parent in the medical field who is distanced from their children, only to then have their house destroyed by a tornado. We find ourselves, full of anguish and anger, crying out, “Why?!”

In these seasons, I have found one piece of work profoundly consoling, Walter Brueggemann’s, Spirituality of the Psalms. I want to share an excerpt with you because I believe it will offer great care for your soul in this season.

 The following discussion [of the Psalms] is organized around three quite general themes: psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation, and psalms of new orientation.  It is suggested that the psalms can roughly be grouped this way, and the flow of human life characteristically is located either in the actual experience of one of these settings or is in movement from one to the another…

(a) [Orientation] Human life consists in satisfied seasons of well-being that evoke gratitude for the constancy of blessing. Matching this [are] “psalms of orientation,” which in a variety of ways articulate the joy, delight, goodness, coherence, and reliability of God, God’s creation, and God’s governing law.

(b) [Disorientation] Human life consists in anguished seasons of hurt, alienation, suffering, and death. These evoke rage, resentment, self-pity, and hatred. Matching this [are] “psalms of disorientation,” poems and speech-forms that match the season in its ragged, painful disarray. This speech, the complaint song, has a recognizable shape that permits the extravagance, hyperbole, and abrasiveness need for the experience.

(c) [New Orientation] Human life consists in turns of surprise when we are overwhelmed with the new gifts of God, when joy breaks through the despair. Where there has only been darkness, there is light. [These are] ‘psalms of new orientation,” which speak boldly about a new gift from God, a fresh intrusion that makes all things new. (pp. 8-9) 

The great beauty of the Christian narrative is that even Christ’s own life manifests this pattern of orientation, disorientation and new orientation. In his incarnation there is orientation. In the crucifixion comes disorientation–the sense that this is not how it was supposed to be. But, in the resurrection comes the beauty of a new orientation that can only be fully appreciated in light of the pain and anguish of disorientation. It is a rhythm of a broken creation as it yearns for new creation.

Our lives, likewise will mirror this rhythm in ongoing cycles that rattle us, renew us, resettle us, only to rattles us all over again. I believe it is in these moments of rattling that we too learn to yearn for the healing of creation and new orientation.


Enjoy the rest of this incredible work here:


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