Storms and Pink Elephants: Psalm 29

A Hijacked Song Baptised

Don’t imagine about a pink elephant. Try really hard. Think about anything except a pink elephant. It’s hard, isn’t it? Soon we will see how Psalm 29’s writer played the same trick of asking its audience not to imagine of something. Indeed, the writer was most likely riffing off an older song first composed for Baal. This Psalmist is in the business of baptism, of making old things new, and of undermining a whole social system by using its tunes against it. Psalm 29 shows us one of the best resistance tactics there are: a cheerful hijacking of the texture of normality. The writer is an ad-man in the best sense of the word: taking a familiar thing, modify it, and then sell something else — out with the Baal, in with the YHWH.

If we were of a more theological bent, we’d say the Psalmist knows a thing or two about baptism. There’s a long tradition of such high jacking through baptism. Many early Protestant hymns were baptized pub songs; our beautiful chants also reminiscent of the aery sounds heard in almost every religion. Christians have always been in the business of baptism and like most things we learned the best ways of doing it from our Jewish brothers and sisters. Those who split everything into evil and good need to remember how everything always has the hope of baptism. For in baptism, the world is sanctified and transformed through God’s love into an opportunity. An opportunity to love. Even when it is your enemy. Love becomes a pink elephant. Everywhere, even in what seems the most meaningless places.

Author Details

Calvyn du Toit

Calvyn C. du Toit is a PhD-candidate in Christian Spirituality at the University of South Africa (UNISA), and a Research Associated in the Department of Christian Dogmatics and Ethics at the University of Pretoria. He lives in New York City, where he is h(o)us(e)band to Christine, and 6PM Music Director at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal).

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