Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Add Eugene Peterson's Latest Book to Your Summer Reading List

I realize that most of us choose lighter summer reading. Summer is likely the time we move away from books that we might consider too heavy, like History or Theology.

Yet Eugene H. Peterson's latest book, Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, doesn't feel heavy. It's a delight of a book.

The first half of the book, as you might expect from the title, focuses on the parables of Jesus. I particularly enjoyed how Peterson showed the links between the stories. Peterson is a master at taking stories that are familiar, like the Prodigal Son, and helping us to see something new.

The last half of the book focuses on the prayers of Jesus. Again, if we've been going to church any length of time, chances are that these prayers aren't unfamiliar to us. But often, Peterson's analysis made me gasp with surprise. I particularly cling to the idea of Jesus praying for us. Some of my Protestant friends scoff at Catholics for their idea of asking saints and dear departed loved ones to pray for those of us still alive, but I like that idea. I like a savior that says, "I will not leave you orphaned" (John 14:18). So much of life leaves me feeling orphaned.

It's good to have books like this one, books that insistently remind us that we are far from orphaned.

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

"Greed is a nearly invisible sin, a tiny parasite that makes its home in the intestines of wealth" (page 62).

"Jesus came to save our souls. He also came to save our words" (page 107).

"So when we pray, 'Your kingdom come,' praying the petition with Jesus praying at our side, we are at the same time implicitly affirming the rule as revealed in Jesus. And we give up second-guessing everything that we can't understand or don't approve of" (page 175).

"A steely refusal to repent, to stubbornly persist in a complacent, self-satisfied life, is a doomed life" (200).

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