Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2003
Rabbi Kushner heals with his 23rd Psalm interpretation
The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom from the Twenty-Third Psalm, by Harold Kushner, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY. 2003. 175 pages. Hardcover.
Review by WAYNE HOLST
"I have written this book so that people would be more aware of the gratitude expressed in Psalm 23."
- Rabbi Harold Kushner
Here then is a line-by-line interpretation of Scripture with magical power to provide people with comfort in the midst of the confusion and chaos of living.
For those who react to the events of 9/11, for example, questioning: "How could these things happen?" Kushner repeats wisdom from his previous books.
Life is not fair, and we fool ourselves when we play mind games and assume that if we try to live moral and upright lives, God will reciprocate by protecting and rewarding us. Rather than preserving us from life's injustices, God accompanies us through the unfairness that comes our way and helps us reinterpret what has happened.
Kushner is particularly poignant when commenting on key phrases such as "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, and he restores my soul." Whole sermons and other devotional meditations can be constructed from any one of these profound lines.
Kushner claims a lot of gratitude at this point in his life. No phrase in the Psalm more effectively describes his feelings than "my cup runneth over."
He encourages us to join him in praise of a God who continues to give life purpose. The desire to possess more is natural. What is most important, though, is not to have more things but to have things to look forward to.
Gratitude, he says, is the most religious emotion. We need to come to a place where we can authentically say: "I have gotten more from life than I had the right to demand.
"I have written this book," he concludes, "so people would be more aware of the gratitude expressed in Psalm 23."
Small gems and great ones too can be discovered here. This book is a worthy addition to the author's contribution to spiritual literature in our time.
(Wayne Holst is a parish educator at St. David's United Church, Calgary.)
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