Redemption Songs: Prayers for People Like Us
by Mark Laurent
Kieran Fouhy, headmaster at St Paul’s College, Auckland in NZ Catholic 12–25 March 2017
“This 80 page book is poetry in motion. Freewheeling, anguished and inspirational.
I could imagine the words of these ‘new psalms’ being sung in some type of Leonard Cohen album. There is struggle, doubt, alienation, despair, gratitude and self-emptying built into each prayer. Themes which resonate today as they did 4000 years ago.
The author draws these universal lyrics from two sources; King David’s Psalms of the Old Testament and Jesus of Galilee. He places the lyrics in contemporary settings.
“I’ve wanted to be some sort of pop star
one of those heroes of the marketplace
but there is no blessing if I turn aside
wanting things you don’t want for me” (55)
“The mind craves understanding
this body longs to be healed from pain
my spirit needs to touch you
then I’ll be whole again” (42)
There is a hint of a reverse Hound Of Heaven theme running through this book … chasing God through life and seeking his forgiveness. Hence the title, Redemption Songs.
I found that I read this book over many days before going on my morning walk. It spawned my own thinking about life and the pilgrimage we enjoy. It is a book for the moment … to be read slowly, flicked through and thought about.
The 71 psalms are numbered (no headings) giving an open-endedness to the lyrics, which invites further thought. I like the authenticity of the lyrics, such an antidote to the narcissism and self-importance shown in world politics at present.
Who is this book for? It’s for the reflective, meditative type personality. The retreatant. It’s for the harassed, the time-poor and the spiritually barren person. It’s for the teacher giving a reflection at a staff briefing. It is, as the cover states, “for people like us.”
I like this book.”
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