June 03, 2004

Psalms for All Occasions!

THE EVENING STANDARD has reported the Church of England will publish a modified text of Psalm 23 in a forthcoming pocket prayer book. While the version is not the Church's official version for use in services, the excerpt transcribed from "Pocket Prayers For Justice And Peace" is pretty grim:

In a new version published by the Church of England, the words: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" are replaced by: "Even if a full-scale violent confrontation breaks out I will not be afraid, Lord." The new version shares with the traditional one the opening line "The Lord is my shepherd", but the psalmist goes on: "He lets me see a country of justice and peace and directs me towards this land" and that His "shepherd's power and love protect me" - instead of "thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Folks, we think we're pretty safe in arguing that "Pocket Prayers for Justice and Peace" has reached a Critical Desalinization Point. Still, if the Church of England can publish versions of prayers based on things like debt relief and trade issues, we don't see why we ourselves couldn't do the same about other matters. So here are our ideas -- with apologies to the original authors of the Psalms, some of whose lines we borrow outright.

And may God forgive us.


Relief Prayer 37B: Claims Adjusters

Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my lament!
For I have given a man's car a very large dent.
My luck has been awfully bad as of late,
so of course that car was a Jag XK8.
I'm really afraid my premiums will jump,
since that idiot stopped dead for a lousy speed hump.
So deliver me from said fiscal abuse;
let my claims adjuster buy my crappy excuse.

Relief Prayer 88C: Vending Machines

I lift up my eyes to the machine.
From whence does my help come?
No help comes from the maintenance people;
they are all on break.

I want my dollar back,
so I bang the machine most mightily.
Yet the second-rate cupcakes sit there, mocking;
they refuse to fall.

Lord, I really need those cupcakes,
because as You know I went on the Atkins Diet,
and it has been six days since I had carbs;
hence I might just kill.

So I beseech you, oh Lord,
have mercy on Your supplicant;
Deliver to me the cupcakes for which I hunger,
let this kick free them.

Relief Prayer 124: Bad Customer Service

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
for this illiterate moron doesn't understand
this DVD I bought had a thick scratch in it,
making it unplayable.

This pimply-faced twenty-something does so on purpose,
for his bitterness exists without bounds;
as if it's my fault he went for philosophy
at that third-rate school in East Lansing.

He holds fast to his evil purpose, just for kicks;
he claims he can do nothing without clearance,
which I know is a complete and utter lie.
Yet he persists in telling me such falsehoods,
as if I was just born yesterday.
Did they teach him anything in East Lansing?

Clearly he is bitter about my stellar success,
but then of course I went to Ann Arbor;
and also I studied a proper subject.
Yet such reason counts naught with him.
He will not deign to give me store credit,
even though I have the receipt.

But You will stand fast with me, that I know;
and will prevail upon him to act quickly.
Barring that, though, give him the typhus,
or at least some social disease.

Relief Prayer 234: Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck;
I sink in deep payments
and there is no abatement.
I have come into misfortune
and the red ink sweeps over me.
I am weary with my pleading;
my wallet is empty.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for the Fed.

How could they raise the rates right now,
as I just closed on this place last week;
now my loan shall be upside-down
with an impending balloon payment
in a mere five years.
O God, Thou knowest my folly;
buying at the height of the market just killed me.
For zeal for this house has consumed me,
and I paid no attention to the bubble.

But it's such a nice house, really,
with three bedrooms and two baths;
and a decent yard with shade trees.
Now it has become my curse, and worse,
my neighbor absconded with my mower.
O God, prevail upon the Fed and Greenspan;
let them keep rates steady one more quarter,
let me have a soft landing,
for I need some equity
and decent schools for my kids.

Song of Praise 12: Sundry Home Items

O sing to the Lord a new song,
for He has done marvelous things!
He has delivered unto me a crisp twenty
from the dark innards of my sofa cushions;
Now I can purchase a good pizza,
from that place down on Sycamore Street,
and it will count for dinners tonight and tomorrow.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
For I have found a roll of paper towels
when I thought I had used the last one.
Now I can actually clean up that spill
which had conquered the kitchen countertop,
and it will not fester while I am at work.

Relief Prayer 512: Stock Market Investors

My God, my God,
why hast Thou forsaken me?
Why are Thou so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
O, my God, I call by day,
but my brokers do not answer;
and by night, their Web site's down.

I wanted to sell shares
in a firm they recommended;
they gave it a strong buy.
But then the earnings reports arrived
and the firm missed expectations;
so I lost ten percent in two days.
In them I trusted; I trusted.
Yet they did not deliver.
Now I am left with my woe and grief.

O God, remind me to think long-term,
to deal with the misery of my 401(k);
which has the only funds in history
with a beta more than one going down
and less than one on the upside.
Let me recall the lessons of compounding,
let me stand fast with dollar-cost averaging,
since the market always goes up,
or at least it's really supposed to.

Give me, O God, the patience to deal
with the speculators and day-traders;
who conspire with hedge funds and short-sellers
to drag down the market each passing day.
Grant me a rally, O Lord, a big rally
and break them like ships thrown onto shore;
Let their schemes and machinations fail,
but deliver me to critical mass.
For buy means hold, and hold means sell,
for ever and ever.


Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 3, 2004 12:12 AM | TrackBack

Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches,
I must make amends...

Posted by: triticale at June 3, 2004 11:42 PM

I thought you were kidding about the new translation until I went to the link. Sad days. Since Cranmer's day the Anglican Church may not have been known for doctrinal soundness but could be relied on for beauty of expression. Now they've abandoned this, too. In favor of what? Relevance? There are but three things that last...

Posted by: Dave Schuler at June 4, 2004 09:07 AM


EVERYONE has thought I was kidding.

In all fairness, this wouldn't replace the version in the Book of Common Prayer. This is just something in a pocket guide. Still, for the CofE to publish this amazes me.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at June 4, 2004 09:44 AM

Well, actually, now that I think about it, Dean DID trust me on this one. However, everyone else to whom I mentioned this thought it was a joke.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at June 4, 2004 09:53 AM

Us Catholics in England always used to complain that the Anglicans had the best music and the best language for their services. This is no longer, as you can see, true.
What really bugs me is that the Book of Common Prayer, The King James Bible and Shakespeare are the very foundation of the language. You can go through the KJB, as opposed to any of the other translations, and see the origin of innumerable phrases that still resonate through the language.
Maybe curmudgeonhood is creeping up on me but modernity is not all it's cracked up to be.

Posted by: Tim Worstall at June 5, 2004 05:17 AM


I don't think modernity was EVER what it's been cracked up to be :-D. Your point is well-made and it is a pity the CofE doesn't apparently value its heritage as much as one would hope.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at June 5, 2004 08:15 AM