Modern Cloister: Praise and Thanksgiving in the Psalms

Modern-Cloister-NEW

Part three of the Modern Cloister series on the Psalms is out, you can find info on Part 1 – a Guide to Understanding the Psalms – here and Part 2 – How to Use the Psalms – here, or listen in the player below. In this Episode, we start diving into different genres of Psalms. We have broken them into eight genres, and we start with Praise and Thanksgiving, which are related, but also a little different. 

I’ve reviewed two of the best books out there (that aren’t commentaries) on the Psalms – How to Read the Psalms & Learning to Love the Psalms – if you are interested in reading more. 

You can listen to the Pod on the player below, or subscribe anywhere podcast are found. You can also listen at our YouTube Channel. Or, of course, come check us out at ModernCloister.com. Hope you enjoy, feedback is always welcome. 

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

In the News: Abortion on the Supreme Court Docket, Russell Moore leaves the ERLC, God Bless the USA Bible, and updated CDC Guidance.

Modern-Cloister-NEW

In this episode of the Modern Cloister, we discuss some news from May, including the Supreme Court deciding to hear a Mississippi abortion law; Russell Moore steps down as president of the Ethics and Religious Life Commission; the upcoming ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible; and the updated CDC guidance on masks and gatherings (like church). 

It will be about a year before we hear anything else about the abortion case. It could be a more in the right direction, but I remain skeptical (I’ve written before about Trump and the Supreme Court). It has been a wild six or so years with Evangelicals in the news for politics. We (or at least 81%, though less in 2020) abandoned our morals (we went from most likely to say character matters in 2012, to least likely in 2016) and often the reason told was, ‘for the judges’. So, not is the chance, I suppose, to see if it was worth it. It is important to remember that this case would not ban abortion in America (nor would overturning Roe), which is one reason I’ve written that Evangelicals shouldn’t be single issue voters. I’m tired of writing about politics, and even more tired of talking about it. Hopefully, In the News next month won’t have any, though that seems unlikely. 

After we published, news also came out that roughly 15% of Americans believe in QAnon; though it looks like some, including 538, have issues with the polling. However, apparently, even asking different ways, at different times, surveys still finds support to be around this level (and up to 20%). Supporters are disproportionately Evangelical whites and Hispanics. Meaning it is a huge part of our church. So, while major denominations and famous pastors are obsessed with ‘wokeness’ and rooting out CRT (while denying the Trinity, as I’ve written about before), a huge proportion of our people in our pews believe things such as a global pedofile ring is in control of the media/Washington or that Biden is a body double. Meanwhile, 60% of people can’t tell you the Great Commission, and only 9% of people can name the 10 Commandments (a staggering 14% can name only 1). The disconnect is so great that the current hero for the SBC is an atheist, while Russell Moore no longer works for them (if you are curious as to why we brought up the SBC again). 

Also, and I can’t seem to find too many good sources on this, but we mentioned Zondervan was part of the Bless the USA Bible. It appears the content is published elsewhere, Zondervan was only involved as they are the copyright holder to the NIV. It appears that they have pulled their licensing and will not be involved. I’ll try to update as more comes out. I applaud them for their decision, but they still allowed the NIV in the ‘Patriot’s’ Bible, which similarly doesn’t have any commentary or notes, but a few articles interspersed throughout, that have incorrect historical notes about American from an amatuer ‘historian’ (looking at his bio, he has neither pastoral or history training from any accredited institutions.) Also, you can read a good article from the perspective a non-American, that I mentioned during the Pod.

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

On Bible Translations

Most people either think too much about which translation of the Bible to use or don’t think about it at all; I fall into the former group. In High School, I pretty much only knew of two translations – the New International Version, which seemed to be a standard, and then the old King James. Sometime in college, I also found out about the New Living Translation. I don’t think I dug into the differences or philosophies of translations until around my mid to late 20’s, when I started trying to take studying the Bible seriously. I assumed the best thing to do was to get the ‘most accurate’, which actually the original languages, but most people mistakenly believe is the ‘most literal’. This led me to the New American Standard Bible, which I rarely used after reading. I was also my foray into Study Bibles (more on that in a later post), specifically the Apologetics Study Bible, where I ended up with the Holman Christian Standard Bible (they have since dropped the Holman). I actually really liked this translation, but the truth is, I only ended up with it because it was cheaper than some of the others. Joining a PCA church in 2012, the standard seemed to be the English Standard Version, which is what my current church uses exclusively. A few years later (with a few more study Bibles) and I realized, I don’t really like the ESV. So, right now, I’m in the market for a new (non-study) Bible, and I’m unsure which translation I may buy. I’ve also considered writing a short series on Bible study, one on translations, Study Bibles, and Commentaries; so I guess now is as good a reason as any.

You may have some awareness, as I did years ago, that some some translations are more literal and some just try to give the general idea (there are also paraphrase, but I get into that later). The terms most often used are formal equivalence and dynamic (sometimes called functional, because alliteration helps to confuse people) equivalence. People also like to call this word for word vs. thought for thought. Now, there really is no such thing as literal, as Greek/Hebrew word order doesn’t match English, or sometimes words do not have a clear translation (which is why there are so many). So, some work is needed to make it readable. The readability is often the reason given for moving from word for word. There is also the issue of idiom. If I said ‘his nose was red’ or ‘their teeth will be clean’ or Samaritans don’t share pottery with Jews, you probably don’t know what that means in English. Now, if I said, ‘her belly was enlarged’, you might realize it means pregnant. So, how should translate the idiom ‘literally’. You could use the old language, you could try a more modern one, like ‘with child’ (which just sounds weird), or maybe ‘she was showing’. Or just say pregnant.

Two other issues in translation are reading level (compare to grade level) and what I’ll call churchyness (or using poetic/odd/archaic language, just because it ‘sounds’ right). Grade level is an important consideration. If you have a middle-schooler, someone who doesn’t like to read, or someone who’s first language is not English, something like the NASB or NRSV, 11th and 10.5, respectively, might not be helpful (let alone the King James). Similarly, if you find the Old Testament confusing, trying the NLT (6.5) may be helpful. I think this is an often overlooked matter when people do look for translations and ‘readability’. Though, generally speaking, the more thought for thought, the easier it will be to read. Churchyness would is typically going to fall into the idiomatic issues I mentioned above, like ‘with child’, others include – lead us not into temptation, or valley of the shadow of death, or darkness is my only companion – when those are more familiar or ‘sound right’, while not being the best translation. These are the issues that come with translation of any kind. I found this chart here, which also has other valuable charts and comparisons.

Briefly, I want to hit a few stats for you, then go into what I consider to be the five main translations, and then two other popular ones that are just bad, and you probably shouldn’t use them. Like many things, the answer to which is the most popular translation will vary depending on who (and how) you ask. In my moderately reformed world, ESV is about all there is. However, it is rarely used outside of the US. If you asked English speakers, my guess would be that NRSV would be by far and away the most known, as it is authorized by the Catholic and Anglican churches; as well as just about the only translation used in scholarship. For America, The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University and Purdue University asked American’s which Bibles they read and it found King James was first at 55%, NIV (19%), NRSV (7%), New American Bible (6%), The Living Bible (5%) as the top five with all others equaling about 8%. I am skeptical about the methodology, but that is beyond the scope of what I want to discuss here.

My main focus is American Evangelicalism, which is also the group that uses the widest variation, so I will give you a few stats from them. That National Association of Evangelicals asked their members for their preference, and the top five were the NIV (39%), NASB (20%), ESV (13%), NKJV (9%), and NLT (7%), with all others being under 2%. Thom Schreiner has an interesting article about the change from 2011 to 2020, as reported by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. The NIV and KJV reamined 1 and 2. The NLT moved from 4 to 3, the ESV moved from 5 to 4, the NKJV dropped from 3 to 5. Other notes in the top 10, the H/CSB stayed at 6 both times, the Reina Valera (RV, a Spanish language Bible) went from unranked to 7, which is kind of cool, and the NASB dropped from 7th to 10th.

You’ll notice below my big five doesn’t necessarily line up with the most used, but I will explain why in each, and then hit on two others that are worth noting. However, all seven are in the top lists (depending on definition). In each section, I will list the acronym, link to the Wiki article, which is actually pretty good for history and overview, then the reading level, then I will jump into why the translation is important and my general thoughts. Since this is how so many people think in terms of how to pick, I will start with the most word for word and move to the most thought for thought.

New American Standard Bible (NASB, History, 11) – This is the most word for word of the 25 or so most popular translations (there is one or two more ‘literal’, but they are hard to find and you won’t see them published from major groups or used in any study Bibles). I’ve heard this is considered the ‘academic’ version for conservative scholars. This translation can be valuable for study, especially if you are trying to get to the most literal version. However, as an everyday reader or devotional, I think it would be tough. It is a hard read (rated hardest to read from one site I found), and has the second highest ‘grade’ rating of all major translations (King James is higher, more on that below). It is generally considered a good version for conservative Evangelicals.

English Standard Version (ESV, History, 7) – This is the one I have the most familiarity with and the one that seems to be gaining in popularity the most. They refer to themselves as ‘essentially literal’. It seems that they are almost as word for word as the NASB, but tries to keep some of the churchyness of the King James. For me, that makes it even clunkier to read than other translations. I don’t like archaic language mixed with literal approach. The readability suffers from this approach, though the level isn’t that high.

Outside of that, my major issue is the amount of harmonization that occurs in the translation (which is kind of the opposite of ‘literal.’ I won’t go much into it here, but if you compare something like Kings vs. Chronicles, or Paul’s conversion accounts in the ESV to other translations, you’ll notice that it doesn’t match often. This is because the translators specifically chose to change the meaning from the Hebrew and Greek for theological reasons or for fear of ‘contradictions’ in the Bible.

This is considered a good version for people who are moderately reformed. People will also point positively and negatively that it is good for complementarians. It is also a common choice in conservative Evangelical churches.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV, History, 10.5) – I am probably the least familiar with this version, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it in a church setting. I do have one copy and have to say, I think it is the best in terms of readability. It is a little more thought for though than the ESV (both versions are revisions to the RSV of the 70’s, with something like 96% agreement between), but still ‘essentially’ literal. It also drops old idioms and uses modern English. It is often attacked for being ‘liberal’ due to be being the standard in Mainline denominations and academia.

It is the also the only major version that was ecumnical in the translation committee, having ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ Protestants, Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish members. Due to this, it is pretty straight reading (in some ways more ‘literal’ in the sense that it may be closer to the actual words of the text) because there was no dominating theological bent (this also explains it’s use in academia). It is famously criticized for translating ‘young woman’ in Isaiah. However, that is what the Hebrew says. Interestingly, the LXX (pre-Christian Greek vision of the OT) translates to virgin in Greek. But if you are truely after the most accurate, then ‘young woman’ seems to be what the text calls for. I won’t get much into the ‘gender language’ issues here (nevermind, a few notes below).

I’ve read more than a few people say they wish the ESV was just a reorientation of the theological bend of the NRSV, because, well, they wanted a conservative translation, but also because it has superior readability. This versions is generally considered good for everyone except conservative Evangelicals (not that it is bad for us), though you can find quite a few conservative study Bibles that use this text (though not nearly as many as the ESV or King James).

New International Version (NIV, History, 8) – Many consider this to be the true mid-point on the word for word and thought for thought spectrum. It is a little newer than the NASB, but with far superior readability, which was why it because the stand replacement of the King James in most Evangelicals circles. While they harmonize Paul like the ESV, there are at least footnotes explaining the original Greek. They do not harmonize Kings/Chronicles, but instead note the apparent contradictions, which I find to be a far better treatment than simply change the words of scripture out of fear. They do make a few odd choices, especially in Timothy regarding the husband of one wife, which the translate as being faithful to one’s wife. I guess the translation committee considered this to be the thought (interestingly the NRSV says married only once). This is considered a good translations for conservative Evangelicals, but with broader theology than the ESV.

New Living Translation (NLT, History, 6.5) – I was actually a little surprised to see this make so many top five list. I actually really like it. It is the newest (including updates) of the ‘living’ or ‘modern’ English, though I believe it is an older translation than all the above. It is probably the premier example of a thought of thought translation, it is certainly the best one, in my view. At a sixth grade level, it is also one of the simplest to read and usually ranks as one of the easiest to read. It is great for middle/high schoolers and new Christians. I actually use it often for Old Testament readings, and I recommend it to people trying to read the prophets or Job. They also have a few of my favorite OT scholars, at least one of whom is an expert in Hebrew poetry. Relatedly, as they aren’t going word for word, they have more leeway to be poetical in the Psalms and Wisdom literature. You can find many good study Bibles that use this, but not many in depth or scholarly ones. People seem to be torn whether this is considered good for study or not, but most people find it valuable for devotion or day to day reading. You won’t like it if you want ‘literal’ or disagree with the translation philosophy. It is generally considered good for conservative Evangelicals, and like the NASB or NIV, there isn’t a particular theological bend.

I want to briefly mention two other versions that I think you should avoid, the King James and the Message. First, the King James (KJV). I was surprised to see how popular this still is. It is a version to avoid for two reasons – the language is hundreds of years old, and it is not based on the best available copies. The grade level is actually 13, because you are essentially reading Shakespeare’s English. I know that is the appeal to some people, and if that is you, then this might be a good supplement, but updated language is needed. Not only do some of the words not exist anymore, but in some instances words have completely different meanings than they did, rendering the text inaccurate. There are also many mistranslations due to lack of knowledge of the original languages, especially Hebrew (there are Unicorns in the Psalms). Some KJV only people will tell you that it is based on the best text. This is patently false, and no scholars agree; no other translations use the Greek text used (all the above use the same as each other, as this is the consensus among everyone except KJV only people). There are so many better options, please choose one.

The Message is not a translation, it is a paraphrase and one not meant to be scholarly or accurate in anyway. Paraphrase is well past the thought for thought concept. No scholar or pastor would recommend using this as your everyday reader, not even the translator. You are basically getting one guy’s thoughts on how to paraphrase what he things one verse means to him. If you are curious, it is written at a third grade level. I have heard a few people say this could be helpful in study, but only if viewed/used as something like a commentary. It is not an accurate example of the Bible. If you don’t like reading or are looking for a simple version, please do not choose this, use the NLT.

Hope this was helpful. I’d love to hear from anyone on which versions they prefer and why.

You can see the chart below for more translation philosophy/comparisons. You can also go here and here for more comparisons/summaries of different translations. I did go too much into the ‘gender neutral’ controversy, mostly because I think it is pretty overblown. For one, people were really mad in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but even the ESV uses some ‘gender inclusive’ language now, so, to some extent it has blown over. I’m fine with ‘brothers and sisters’ when it is a group, especially as we know it was read to everyone, and even within some letters there are specific call outs to men, and then also to women’. Something like teach your ‘children’ instead of ‘son’, also makes sense in light of modern English. I don’t have that particularly liberal, and more to the point, find the harmonizing mentioned above to be more egregious. I won’t say any more about that, but Bill Mounce has a good article on it, plus a note on literalism.

Edit: I forgot to mention another issues I have with literal or churchyness, using old measurements. I cannot understand how or why, in modern English, we’d use cubits and baths instead of feet and gallons (or meters and liters, for the rest of the world). Similarly, saying the 6th hour, instead of around noon. Those on the more word for word side should at least translate in footnotes, i.e. ‘9 feet’, not ‘a cubit is roughly 18 inches’; the worst are those that give no conversion metrics. Thought for thought versions tend to translate to modern measures and footnote the original.

Modern Cloister: How to Use The Psalms

Modern-Cloister-NEW

Part two of the Modern Cloister series on the Psalms is out (you can find info on Part 1 – a Guide to Using the Psalms – here, or listen in the player below). In it, we discuss using the Psalms for praying, reading, and singing, both privately and corporately. We take a look a reading plans, various ‘divine hours’ in which Psalms are incorporated (including medieval monks who read the whole book once a week), how to use Psalms as prayers and in learning how to pray, and finally, Mrs. MMT teaches you had to sing the Psalms. 

I’ve reviewed two of the best books out there (that aren’t commentaries) on the Psalms – How to Read the Psalms & Learning to Love the Psalms – if you are interested in reading more. 

You can listen to the Pod on the player below, or subscribe anywhere podcast are found. You can also listen at our YouTube Channel. Or, of course, come check us out at ModernCloister.com. Hope you enjoy, feedback is always welcome. 

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

Book Review: The Church

The Church: An Introduction

My Rating – Probably not worth your time

Level – Short (the goal of the series), some academic language, but mostly readable. 

Summary – The book is technically broken into two sections, Foundational Issues and Mere Ecclesiology and More Ecclesiology. However, part one, really functions as more of an extended introduction. The two chapters of this section are The Triune God and the Church, and The Church According to Scripture. The latter looks at the different words used for church, gathering, and temple in the Old and New Testaments. 

The bulk of the book is found in part two, which is broken into six chapters – The Identity, Leadership, Government, Ordinances or Sacraments, Ministries, and Future of the Church. The ‘mere’ versus ‘more’ ecclesiology is a rubric of sorts, wherein each chapter he discusses the ‘mere’ of the particular topic first, which is the basic agreements that all churches have now, or have had in the past. The ‘more’ part is where he dives into the differences between various churches or theological views. 

There is also the series introduction, and an introduction by Allison, conclusion, ‘further reading’, and indexes. 

My Thoughts – Allison is a strong writer, who has had success at the popular level. I’ve read a few of his books and always enjoyed them, but something just wasn’t working right in this. It could have been an editor situation, or the way the put the book together, but it often became quite redundant. I mean in a verbatuum since, he would write an intro paragraph for each chapter that end with ‘I will show X in turn’, then ended the chapter with, ‘I have shown X’. It was oddly academic for what I had assumed was meant to be a more popular writing. His Historical Theology text is more readable than parts of this. Additionally, the ‘mere/more’ was repetitive in the same way and a bit contrived. The actual content, outside of the framework, was very accessible and readable. I’m not sure what was going on. 

The content itself, was kind of a mixed bag. I appreciate his defense/discussion on the Trinity, but it didn’t seem to fit. The Church According to Scripture was helpful and interesting. Identity was quick and solid. Leadership was perhaps the worst chapter. He makes the claim that ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’ are used interchangeable, which is pretty clear not only in the Greek, but also in the way it is used in the NT. However, he also claims ‘pastor’ is interchangeable with these two terms as well. He offers in example nor any linguistic proof, but rather points to Peter saying that elders should be good shepherds (the word translated is how we get the word pastor). He then quickly moves on. I am not entirely sure why he makes this claim, which is clearly lacking support, but I could speculate a few reasons that are beyond the scope of this review. 

Government, Ordinances, and Future were the strongest parts of the book. He explanation of governing options was one of the clearest concise write-ups I’ve seen. The baptism part of Ordinances was short, but I think that is actually a better way to handle. I’ve seen interesting arguments that there aren’t really four views of communion, but really just three, but he sticks with the traditional four views and does a pretty good job with the nuances. Much like Government, the chapter on the Future of the church was one of the best, concise writings I’ve seen. These two chapters function very well as almost a cliff-notes, without sacrificing too much understanding. 

That being said, this book is still probably not worth your time. While still short, there is too much unnecessary writing and the ‘mere/more’ distinctions really fell a little flat. There are a few strong chapters, but others are mixed. I appreciate what Crossway is trying to do by basically giving you chapters on what would be a Systematic, but meant to be shorter and more readable. However, based on this one, I wouldn’t really recommend that approach. Additionally, there are other books that focus on the Church that are better, though not many hit on the future (but there are hundreds of those). Unless this is a topic you are just starting to read on, and really need somewhere to start (in which case you could benefit from the ‘further reading’ section), this book probably isn’t worth it. 

*I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. 

Modern Cloister: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms

Modern-Cloister-NEW

Over at Modern Cloister, we are excited to launch a new six part series on the Psalms. We start with todays episode, A Guide to Understanding. The next episode will get into how to use the Psalms. In the remaining four, we will dig into the different types/genres of Psalms (variously broken down, typically, between five and 12, we landed on eight).

Over the past few years, the Psalms have become one of the most important books to me. As I read how much the book was used in history – reading, singing, praying – it is almost disheartening how little we (most protestants) use them today. 

I’ve reviewed two of the best books out there (that aren’t commentaries) on the Psalms – How to Read the Psalms & Learning to Love the Psalms – if you are interested in reading more. 

You can listen to the Pod on the player below, or subscribe anywhere podcast are found. You can also listen at our YouTube Channel. Or, of course, come check us out at ModernCloister.com

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human/Monkey Embryo’s, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

Modern-Cloister-NEW

   

We are almost at the end of the month, so it is time for our latest Modern Cloister edition of In The News. Last month we did more of a deep dive on a major story, a smaller story, then one story from each of us. This time we are trying something a little different, with just firing relatively quickly, through five stories over the past month. Please let me know if one is better than the other.

Our five topics are:

Losing Our Religion (Gallup Poll, Russell Moore, 538 Podcast)

Refugees Cap (Christianity Today, Religious News Service, My Review of Seeking Refuge)

Human/Monkey Embryo’s (Nature)

Women Songwriters

Dawkins Excommunicated (Guardian)

Hope you enjoyed this episode, please visit ModernCloister.com for more.

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

Book Review: Learning to Love the Psalms

Learning to Love the Psalms

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Medium read (can get slightly technical), moderate length (250+)

Summary: Godfrey takes a different approach than most books on the Psalms. Instead of looking into categories of Psalms, he studies them in their original five ‘books’, and looks for similarities within each ‘book’; plus he breaks out the final five Psalms and treats them separately from the other five books.

There are no chapters in  this book, but there are seven broad sections. After a large intro section that includes chapters introduction the Psalms, poetry, difficulties, speakers, and structures, there are the five sections (one each on the five ‘books’), a section on the final five Psalms, and a short afterward. Each section has chapter on the structure and character of the ‘book’, followed by a mini-commentary on six or seven of the Psalms in the ‘book’. The final section has a brief intro chapter, then reviews each of the last five Psalms. 

My Thoughts: He has attempted a relatively difficult task in trying to find the original reason for the groupings in each book. I appreciate what he has done, and I think his work is the best I’ve seen that doesn’t use the typical category/genre, but I remain unconvinced. It is a fascinating way to try to study the Psalms and as modern western people, we really want a reason for the layout of the Psalms. He makes the most compelling argument I’ve seen, but as I said, I’m not entirely convinced. 

The other oddity of this book is his mini-commentary on numerous Psalms. These just didn’t land correctly. Some were a little academic, some were devotional, others were likely draw from sermons (as they point to Christ in our life now, in an application way), the remaining was a mix of all these. While they were mostly good, and all educational, the inconsistency bothered me. This could have been an editorial decision, to lay out his notes this way, but it should have been a bit more focused. 

For these reasons, this book would not be the first I would recommend if you wanted to start a study on the Psalms. That being said, the intro section was quite valuable. The chapter on difficulties in the Psalms was particularly valuable. Likewise, the chapter on ‘recurring themes’ functioned as a mini-lesson with a different take than the most usual genre discussions. The structure and character chapters are interesting, but how much you gain from those will be dependent on how strong you find his overall argument. Outside the intro, the final five Psalms section is probably the best, as it is a very clear division and we know much of how these particular Psalms have been used throughout history. Overall, a good book, written well, and if you are looking to dig into the Psalms and are purchasing multiple books for your study, this is one to put on your list. 

 

 

 

Modern Cloister: Impact of Covid on Community

Modern-Cloister-NEW

Slightly different, and shorter, pod today. We wrap up our series on community by discussing the impact of Covid-19. This similar to our Future of Community episode, in that we try to predict what may happen, with the biggest impact being that Covid is certainly accelerating existing trends. We also discuss church and family life over the past year, and a few positives that have seemed to emerge. The main one being people meeting new neighbors, this is true for us, but is also a trend that surveys have show. 

We hope you enjoy this final episode being a bit of excursus and that the series overall was beneficial.  Community is something that is quite important to us, and it only seemed fitting to start the Cloister cast with this topic. If you haven’t listened yet, you can find all the episode in the player below and every where podcasts are found. You can find my commentaries about our previous episodes – History of Community, Decline of Community, and Future of Community. You can find all episode, show notes, and more at ModernCloister.com. We’d love to hear any comments, questions, or criticisms you may have. 

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated

Modern Cloister: Future of Community

Modern-Cloister-NEW

I was out of town last week, so this is a little old, but the most recent Modern Cloister Podcast is up and live. We continue out series in Community and discuss the future of community. Most of it is speculation, but also following various trends. A week or so ago, a Gallup survey came out that shows that church membership dropped below the 50% threshold for the first time since they have tracked. It is worth noting that it is not the lowest in US history, most Historians peg Colonial to pre-Great Awakening membership to something like 20-30%. The survey points to many of the things we discussed in out Decline of Community podcast, such as the rise in the 30’s and the peak in the 50’s, with major changes come in the 70’s and 80’s. They also have a few speculations about the future, and the implications.

I personally do not believe we will drop to the 10% mark in other post-Christian democracies, mostly due to immigration; however, a return to the pre-revival American age of 20-30% seems imminent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those levels be 2050. We will talk in the next Pod about how we believe Covid will accelerate the trends of the declince.

Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at praise and thanksgiving psalms, discussing both genres of psalms, their differences and areas of overlaps, and ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select verses from a handful of our favorite psalms. This is the 3rd episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer., including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  2. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance
  3. How To Use The Psalms
  4. A Guide to Understanding the Psalms
  5. In The News: Losing Our Religion, Refugee Cap, Human-Monkey Embryo, Women Songwriters, and Dawkins Excommunicated