CONTOURS OF CULTURE
The Five Books of Peterson
Until about nine years ago, I had never paid much attention to the many books written by Eugene Peterson. I knew that he had been a respected Presbyterian pastor for most of his career, and that he had later taught at Regent College in Vancouver, an institution for which I have much respect. But his books on devotional subjects had never gotten my attention. This may be due in part to the way his contemporary-language paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, had been marketed. It seemed too eager to project "relevance," and it seemed to dumb down Holy Writ.
Sometime in 2003, a friend suggested that I might be interested in Peterson's new book, called Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. I was told that a glance at the table of contents would persuade me to interview Peterson. The title of the book, I soon discovered, was from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem ("As Kingfishers Catch Fire"), which was definitely a point in Peterson's favor. When I obtained a copy of the book, I saw that it was organized in three large sections: "Christ Plays in Creation," "Christ Plays in History," "Christ Plays in Community." This was "spiritual theology" aiming to combat the dualistic temptation of so much of American Christianity.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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