As I’d mentioned, I’ve set myself up to read through the Bible in 90 days. I’d miss a day or two, but catch up without a problem.. sometimes going further than necessary. It’s not a deep study, but a refresher, of course. I had no problems, until I reached Job. That book slowed me down a bit, but I managed through okay. Then I hit Psalms… and I’ve almost completely derailed.
Why? Psalms is so gosh darn boring, that’s why. I would almost rather read through genealogies than Psalms. Reading Job tried my patience, and Psalms has all but broken it. What do these two books of the Bible have in common, though – they’re poetry and they deal purely with the whims of human emotion. I’m pretty okay, and can even enjoy, the combination of these two things in small doses, but when they fill entire BOOKS that continue on and on (and on) it becomes mind-numbing.
A key with Hebrew poetry is that it often repeats itself. After hundreds of lines, that gets really tiring. I can easily say that I’m not really a fan of most poetry in ANY fashion (though Dr. Seuss does me no wrong), so the poetic use of language in these books is hard enough for me to read through, let alone when they’re saying the same things over and over again. I’ve often talked about my personal dislike of abstract art, and in some ways, that is what poetry is. Obviously, there are tons of variations, but the basic idea of poetry is that it’s not direct storytelling – it’s descriptive. Poetry, as used in Psalms, uses flowery language to describe how the writer is feeling, but it doesn’t stop at one or two analogies… it attributes poetic words to almost everything. Some folks dig poetry, and that’s dandy, but it’s just something that I’ve never enjoyed, so having entire books of the Bible written in that fashion makes it really hard for me to want to keep reading. Of course, then there’s what these poets are actually talking about.
While reading through the book of Job, I wanted to just smack whoever was talking and tell them to, “Shut-up, already! We get it!” That, my dear friends, is my reaction to Psalms, as well. These are not the only poetic books of the Bible, yet why have I not also mentioned Proverbs with these “annoying” books of poetry? Proverbs is fine by me because it deals with intellect. It’s poetic, sure, but it is generally filled with wise little thoughts about life. Who knows, I could be way off since I haven’t read it in a while, but that’s how I’ve always associated them: Psalms = the emotion, while Proverbs = the mind. So, while nothing really happens in either of those books (again, poetic description as opposed to storytelling), at least Proverbs offers me something. Shock, Gasp! Am I saying that Psalms is a useless book of the Bible? No… it just doesn’t interest me.
Psalms is a book filled with songs to God, and they run the gamut of emotions: elated, content, scared, sad, angry. They do what Job didn’t, of course, and they bring their issues directly to God… but why do I want to read them? It’s not a matter of the Bible being “wrong”, it’s just my personal tastes at work, here, but it’s made my daily reading feel like a chore. It’s like reading someone’s diary… where they complain, then become really happy, then are scared, and back and forth, and up and down, and over and over again. If I knew the person, it might be an interesting insight (haha, welcome to MarkMushakian.com), but I’m not really gaining much pleasure or comfort from this part of the Bible, as I’ve always heard of from others… but I’ve definitely tried.
I’m at Psalm 108, as of this writing, and there have been things that have come to me as I read, so I’m not marking the book off completely. Note, I didn’t title this post “The Useless Book Of The Bible”, because for a Christian, the Bible really is a living book – and the answers and revelations that come from it aren’t the same as what one might experience from a regular book. This series is about my ups AND downs in my Christian pursuit, so I really wanted to share this for that reason. Who knows… maybe something will happen, and I’ll end up loving Psalms down the line. For now, though, it’s just this big mass of emotional boredom. If you know me, you know that I don’t put any value in sharing emotions unless 1., it’s something that’s very strong and genuine (like a death), 2., it’s something new (as opposed to “the same ol’ problems as before”), and/or 3., the sharing of these feelings can lead to discussion about a solution. Anything else is just complaining. Right or wrong, that’s how I see things. Oh, and I don’t really like poetry at all, either… so there’s that, too ;). It’s not impossible to read straight through Psalms (and other poetic books of the Bible), it’s just really hard for me to get through it at the same, enthusiastic pace I was with the other books.
Preally pfreaking phard.