Inspired by Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson has gone to glory. He was an inspiration to me, like so many others. I loved his work on the Psalms of Ascent, “A Long Obedience.”

In 2010 I heard him speak at a Festival of Faith & Writing — he inspired me to continue the pursuit of both pastoral work and ministry as two tracks of the same vocation. It’s so challenging to do, yet he did it. So I tried also. Here are a few memorable lines:

?Truth is not conveyed in confrontation, otherwise we become defensive and cannot hear.?

?God doesn?t think like we think God should.?

?Ninety percent of language is non-informational so to use language to get the facts right misses the point.?

?Our job as preachers is not to make a clear message but to evoke imagination.?

?I grew up in a church where theology was argument and I am fed up with ?it.?

?I overstate things.?

He quoted a Denise Levertov poem, saying that his vocation as writer/pastor is like ?a dog that goes intently haphazard.?

?Writing a book is like building a chicken coop in a high wind.?

?Being married was more difficult than mastering Semitic languages.?

?I was a competitive pastor who needed to become a contemplative pastor.?

?There is a sacred quality to words. They are not information but revelation.?

?I quit typing and learned to write.?

Years later, in 2016, after I finished my memoir, I wrote to him that he inspired me, and sent him an advance copy of RUINED. I was thrilled beyond measure when he offered an endorsement, calling it a story of “lived theology.” He told me that he and his wife read my book aloud to each other, as was their common practice, and that Jan especially loved it. What an image that puts in my mind, and what a gift to me.

I am praying for Jan and all who will miss him. I’m glad Eugene didn’t linger too long in his final illness. His family said he was ready, saying aloud, “Let’s go.”


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