Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a contemporary cry of Old Testament Hannah, the poetry of Kate Tempest

One of the highlights for me of Spirit of Wonder (week on ) was discovering the poetry of Kate Tempest. Care of (Jonny’s Thursdaysession on Spirit and pop culture.)

The night before I’d been teaching a (Sociology of Ministry) class. We’d been talking about different ways the church relates to society and as part of that, exploring Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. The context is a society in transition, moving from tribe to state, from judge to king, from charismatic to bureaucratic. In this transition, comes the song of a barren mother, a speech from the margins of that world, with a dream rejoicing in a swift transition, the rapid and abrupt inversion of the upside-down Kingdom.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich
He brings low, he also exalts
He raises the poor from the dust
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with princes
And inherit seats of honor.

The song anticipates a new social reality, a radical change. It comes not as a memo or a legal document but as a poetic “song.” Such is the power of poetry and causes Brueggemann to write that “liturgy and all artistic acts as crucial for mission.” (Brueggemann, Walter A. “The Bible and Mission: Some Interdisciplinary Implications for Teaching.” Missiology 10, 1989, 397-412.)

And the next day, Jonny played some Kate Tempest poetry. And it felt like a contemporary Hannah, crying for justice, dreaming of an upside down world, not in dusty Palestine, but consumerist urban cities. Have a listen, it’s powerful stuff.

Posted by steve at 04:14 PM