My two favorite magazines are The Economist Magazine and The New Yorker. The writing in both publications is usually thoughtful, clear, clean and un-boring. Even when I lived in the middle of the African rainforest, I still got my Economist. At times, there are articles about religion, Christianity and faith in these magazines.
There have been times when I’ve read New Yorker pieces dealing with Christianity and I just wanted to cry. Sometimes the people they picked from my brothers and sisters in Christ to write about were so theologically wacko. At other times, they were disparaging about anyone who was not a secular humanist. Like, oh, that sweet/obnoxious/dull-witted Christian. Sigh. Whatever will we do with them?
But aha! In a recent issue of The New Yorker! Behold! A thoughtful and very non-disparaging book review of Robert Alter’s new translation of the psalms (The Book of Psalms). Yay New Yorker! Yay James Wood! Wanna come over for dinner? I’ll make something that doesn’t involve the Trader Joe’s freezer!
This article was such a pleasure to read. If you’ve never read any of Robert Alter’s Biblical translations, get your hands on some and do so. He has an amazing ear, taking the poetry of Hebrew and bringing it to English. His Pentateuch translation can change the way you hear and understand Genesis, Exodus and the other three less perused books (but no less awesome) of the Pentateuch. The excerpts of the Psalms that Woods includes in the article are sublime. First of all, the psalmists were geniuses. Secondly, in Alter’s skilled hand, they come even more alive.
Now, I can’t tell for sure, but I think that the reviewer (James Wood is a big ol smarty pants) might be a confessing Christian. Even if he isn’t, though, it appears that The New Yorker had a reverant reviewer write a review of a Biblical translation.
Dang. That is all I am saying. Thank you James Wood. Thank you New Yorker. Now I don’t feel so punked by my love for you.