EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 22, 2012

Haverhill Rev. James Gustafson rewrites Psalms as tweets

HAVERHILL — Even after retiring from ministry, the Rev. Jim Gustafson is looking for ways to make the word of God accessible to people.

Gustafson, 78, recently published, “psalms/tweets: Psalms in Contemporary Style,” a 175-page spiral-bound book in which he rewrote all 150 psalms as tweets using slang and modern expressions.

Gustafson condensed the psalms to 50, 20, or in some cases 10 percent of the original text, although many do not adhere strictly to the 140 characters used in Twitter. He said it did not take him long to rewrite the psalms, usually 10 to 20 minutes.

“I looked at the various translations of the psalm and reduced it. I wanted to keep the main point and emotional impact,” he said.

He began posting the tweets on his Facebook page and received positive feedback from friends.

“The psalms are a journal of Old Testament people. The psalms are a longer statement of how a person is feeling about God and circumstances. It shows the good, the bad and the ugly of human life,” Gustafson said.

One sample tweet is psalm 70 which reads “Quick, Lord! Rescue me! Enemies are out to destroy and humiliate me, saying, “Aha! We’ve pinned him down!” Let them know humiliation and shame. But, hurry Lord, I am weak and need You to save me!”

Gustafson said he uses the psalms as a devotion.

“It’s a way to think about the Lord, to be in the Lord and get closer to Him,” he said.

If King David would see his psalms turned into tweets, Gustafson said he would be pleased.

“I think so. He was a down-to-earth guy, who didn’t mince his words. They show the real slice of life. I find that refreshing and right where the rubber meets the road and I like that,” he said.

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