The origin of this blog was a project to Tweet The Psalms. A project that was only 46 days old when this was posted. The blog is not an admission that 140 words is too restrictive, but rather a complementary exercise for those who might want to know the depth that lies behind the Tweets.
So why tweet the psalms? It’s a good question and a number of friends have asked this question in a tone of voice that suggested that they did not expect a convincing answer. I have to say that I was initially sceptical myself, but then saw a number of ways in which my interest in the psalms could form the basis of a regular series of Tweets.
The primary driver was a purely selfish one. I was looking for a way to give some freshness to my daily reading of the Psalter (why I was reading the psalms daily is something I will return to in a later article).
The second reason? Well it seemed a great challenge, could each psalm be distilled into 140 characters and the result still capture something of its meaning? If it could be, perhaps the process of grappling with each psalm would prevent laziness and it might also result in something memorable as an aid to remembering what-is-where in the Psalter.
Once I tried the idea it became clear that the idea worked at a number of levels. Of course the point is not to replace the psalms. My hope was that someone might read a specific Tweet and if they were familiar with the specific psalm it would recall and recapture something of that psalm. Or, perhaps more likely, the Tweet could be read before and/or after reading the specific psalm with the reader working through whether and how the Tweet worked at any level. Even a reader who disagreed with the Tweet would engage afresh with the psalm – and that’s really the point.
I also had a hope that the restrictions imposed by the form of a Tweet would in some way lend themselves to a more poetic content—surely this is appropriate for engagement with these God-given poems written by ancient Israelites. I am less sure that I’ve always succeeded on this count—a Tweet can be frustrating precisely because of its brevity. At one level I was keen to be faithful to one of the key ideas of Tweets—I wanted each one to be self-contained.
The backbone of the original project was a single Tweet per day on a psalm and this was done in canonical order (as per the numbering of the Masoretic text). This seemed nicely counter-cultural to the randomness and responsiveness of so many Tweets. This is not a judgement on the norm but rather a recapturing of a spiritual discipline of daily psalm-reading. This stable reliability has always been there complemented by a small number of retweets relevant to the psalms, or the theological issues they raise. Also, at least once a week, usually on a Sunday there is an extra Tweet – a ‘Pause’ reflecting on a broader aspect of the collection of psalms that form a book. This blog aims to explore these issues at somewhat greater depth.