W. David O. Taylor – Open and with out worry – Bible Type

W. David O. Taylor – Open and with out worry

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Face the music
A review of

Open and without fear:
The Psalms as a Guide to Life
W. David O. Taylor

Hardcover: Thomas Nelson, 2020
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Reviewed by Aarik Danielsen

The psalms represent the most impressive mixtape in human history. Every note we know and every buzz we hear sounds somewhere in these 150 songs.

When you read the Psalms in all their size and detail, you can't help but hear the stresses of every musical style that we carry with us. Some are reminiscent of the cinematic colors of Explosions in the Sky. Others sound like a rusty, dusty delta blues played by Robert Johnson in full view of the devil. In their most triumphant form, the psalms resemble anthems that have been amplified to rage the stages. In their most persistent hope, they sound like a decorated gospel choir reciting Kendrick Lamar: "But if God has us, we'll be fine."

David Taylor turns to the Psalms and finds not only the physical center of the Bible, but also its beating heart. In Open and Unafraid, the Fuller Seminary professor and art ambassador soulfully examines the frugality of the psalms to tell the story of God. While far from the entirety of Revelation, they express the full range of human emotions – and reveal the fullness of a God who is present wherever we are.

Taylor never asks the psalms to oust other sections of the scriptures. But on almost every page it shows the centrality of the book – for individual Christians and the Church across time and place.

“I wrote this book so that readers would be thrilled to accept a prayer book that is of great influence not only for Jesus and the apostles, but also for the prayer practices of the monks and the cathedral, but also for the anthems of the Reformation. the spirituals of African-American slaves and the songs of the global church, ”he writes (xvii).

Taylor first recognized the psalm sweep when he studied with the late Eugene Peterson (who wrote the foreword; Bono contributes the afterword) almost 25 years ago. At the end of a more transcendental course, Taylor Peterson asked for a few little bits of practical theology.

“Tomorrow, David, read Psalm 1. Read Psalm 2 the next day. Read Psalm 3 the next day. When you get to the end, start over,” Taylor recalls. "Thank you and good night" (xvi).

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The student becomes an Open and Unafraid teacher, as Taylor encourages readers to tattoo the fine print of the psalms into the chambers of their hearts. As much as the psalms reveal the fullness of our human life, he calls us to see their ultimate goal – to draw us into the life of God.

Taylor guides readers through 14 topics and shows how the psalms uniquely explain elementary realities such as anger and joy, poetry and justice. He starts with honesty and rightly so. Our original and instinctive sins keep us on the run. We protect our hearts from others, are disingenuous with ourselves, and foolishly try to hide ourselves from a God who fully sees and knows.

"What the psalms offer us is a formative aid to hide," he writes. "… The psalms therefore invite us to stand in the light, to really see ourselves and to receive the Reformation work of God through the formative words of the psalmist so that we can become human again in Christ."
(3-4).

Honesty demands and honesty rewards. The practice of vulnerability that inspires the psalms happens before the face of God and before the faces of others. For better or worse, we are not alone in any direction – vertical or horizontal.

Taylor draws deep from Peterson's well and reminds us that these songs were intended for the worship of companies (18). Imagine going to church one Sunday and hearing the band's deepest hopes and fears for G-D-Em-C development. This was a reality for David and his cohorts.

“This is the terribly good news of the Psalms: the church sees everything; everything will be seen, ”writes Taylor (17).

We often fear what we need most. And to our delight, this inability to hide, to live facelessly and namelessly on the edge of a deep Christian community. In the psalms and in the psalm-shaped churches there is room for "people who feel lonely, live on the margins of the community, hide, be ashamed, feel misunderstood or suffer fear and rejection" (23).

"We are not the first to experience the sadness of loss, the wrath of injustice, the confusion and disorientation of doubt, or the joy of salvation and redemption," added Taylor. 206).

Taylor does some of his best work on the twin topics of prayer and lament. We rarely indulge in persecution – not completely. We fear what we might find: a God who has something to say to us or who is silent. Taylor claims that the Psalms reveal a God who is not only there, but in whose presence we become the most alive.

When we read the psalms, we eavesdrop on prayers for "a very specific god, not a generic deity"; These screams give us courage to overthrow self-made gods (45-46). As our lips form prayers and our hearts are shaped by them, “the psalms offer us an edited poetic language to express our raw feelings. Their structure gives us the freedom to “let everything out” in a faithful way (51).
We need not be afraid of where this freedom of speech leads. Lamentation is not a path to ruin, but a path to wholeness. "If nothing makes sense, the laments give the incoherence of our world coherence" (84).

And as Taylor makes it clear whether we exhale lamentations or praise, weep with longing, or complain about injustice, our words relate to a god we believe he hears and speaks back to.

The more our lives reflect the psalms, the more poetic they become. And contrary to popular perception, this poetry is rooted in the material of the earth – in real feelings, real worries, real movements towards Christlikeness. We grow in our awareness of God and all of his good gifts. "This is because poets like God love the details of life" (64).

"At best, good poetry does the familiar, the strange, and the strange, the familiar," writes Taylor. “As a poem, the psalms make what is familiar to us about God, life, faith and prayer strange again and remind us that these things cannot be domesticated or mastered absolutely. But they also make things that are foreign to us – such as God, life, faith, prayer – familiar again and remind us that these are things that we can know and do ”(70).

Taylor interweaves strands of church history through the text, showing how the church insisted on justice and chased beauty when it worked closely with the psalmists. Taylor fears that we have lost our sense of the thickness of these songs. Asks openly and without fear what types of Christians we could be and how the hope of the Church in the world could be unleashed if we let the Psalms lead us again.

"So in the end it is that the psalms could shape us in the love of God if we let them," he writes. "… In love we would see what was there all the time but was overlooked in a hurry or indifference. In love we would see that what has been distorted by selfishness can be seen truthfully and carefully. In love, all possibilities of intimacy would no longer appear as a blurred threat to our supposed autonomy, but to blessed invitations to know and be deeply known ”(205).

Taylor asks us to get lost in working songs, punk bruisers and pocket symphonies – and to find each other again. When we hear our favorite songs in the psalms, we will find harmony with God there.

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Aarik Danielsen

Aarik Danielsen is an arts and entertainment editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune and a lecturer at the University of Missouri Journalism School. He writes a weekly column, The (Dis) content, for Fathom Magazine. His work has been published in the Image Journal, Think Christian, Christ and Pop Culture and more.

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