An interesting listen
I recently listened to The Pastor by author Eugene Peterson for the christianaudio Reviewers Program (http://christianaudio.com).
The author has one of the best abilities to “word smith” that I have listened to in a long time. He has a fabulous vocabulary. His mind is unbelievably sharp. He uses words to paint pictures in such a dramatic way that often times the reader will have to stay on their toes or they will miss his point. It is not a hard listen by any means, but it is very profound.
This is a very down to earth book on the life Eugene Peterson and how he became and lived his life as a pastor.
While disagreeing with a lot of the theological stances of the author, as well as his use of inappropriate vocabulary, this book is informative as to where a lot of the modern mindsets and practices of the church world came from. It is very informative from an historical aspect as to what was going on during this timeframe and gives us an insight into the thought process of at least a segment of the church world then. If you enjoy memoirs you will enjoy this book.
(Posted on 4/28/11)
The Heart of a Pastor
By: Josh Morgan
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café (jacobscafe.blogspot.com).
A couple of weeks ago, I posted an initial review of Eugene Peterson's memoir, The Pastor. I have finally finished it and absolutely loved it. While I am not in the role of professional clergy, this book hit home to me. If you want to know what my heart is as a psychologist and where I find meaning in life, read this book.
Peterson's book is a perfect example of how amazing of a writer he is. His prose becomes beautifully poetic (and I'm one who generally dislikes poems) with vivid imagery. In the afterward, a letter to a young pastor, he stated that he does not feel like he is a pastor of great achievement. While he did translate The Message Bible and has written many books, I got the sense from reading this that he is not your typical uber-famous Christian who has met the world's standards of success.
Yes, Peterson has had some of that, but he writes not to be famous, but because that is his love and passion. In fact, his personal testimony about the development of The Message makes me love and appreciate it all the more.
But returning to his pastoral work, this is where he finds his primary identity, with the writing elements being more of a supplement to that work. As a pastor, he led a flock of about 500 by the time he left. That's large compared to many institutions, but quite modest compared to those congregations of the best selling authors. And Peterson seemed to have no problem with the size. In fact, he indicated that he didn't want it bigger. He was satisfied with his work, and it showed through his heart and the true, lasting transformation that occurred in his community.
As a psychologist who definitely can be tempted by trying to achieve widespread notoriety, this tome reminded me of the power of daily, incarnational work that we all do on a daily basis. Our daily relationships and connections are what counts. Peterson knows that and lived it. And I have been blessed by his testimony of that life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the christianaudio.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” (Posted on 4/27/11)
By: Terry Delaney
I have found narrator Arthur Morey's reading to be less than stellar. While I have appreciated many of his other audiobooks, I struggled with this one.
The content of the life and ministry of Eugene Peterson is by far the main selling point on this audiobook. While not everyone will agree, Peterson does offer an alternative to the stereotypical pastorate and pastor. If you are a fan of Eugene Peterson, you will enjoy this memoir. If you are not already a fan of his, then I would suggest reading the book rather than listening to it. (Posted on 4/26/11)
The best general book on what it means to be a pastor I have ever read.
By: Adam Shields
I read this immediately after it came out just over a month ago. I wrote a gushing review. Then I was asked if I wanted to review the audiobook as well. At first I thought I would just listen to a little bit of the audiobook and rework the original review a bit. But this is a very good book. And 'reading' it twice in less than six weeks is not too much.
Eugene Peterson reads the introduction and afterward himself. So you get a sense of his own voice. But it is narrated by Arthur Morey. His voice is not the same as Peterson, but his reading understands the nature of the book. As with many good narrators you forget the narration and hear the voice of the author, as the authors intends you to hear.
About half way through this second reading I think I understood what Peterson was trying to do in a different way. Peterson, through his own story, is showing us different way to conceive of the role of pastor. That is part of why I liked the book so much the first time I read it. But it is more than simply giving a new language. He is outright rejecting the way that most of us conceive the role of pastor. I had started reading The Economics of Good and Evil and was thinking about how the author was deconstructing our ideas about what Economics was capable of explaining. I understood that the book was particularly post-modern, in a very good way, because it was attempting to work through the variety of ways that Economics had been conceived through the texts of ancient and modern literature. Using these texts Sedlacek was able to help us understand the the modern, mathematical, predictive understanding of Economics is not only recent, but just one of many ways that Economics can be conceived. In many ways, this is exactly what Peterson is doing. He is doing it not through a variety of ancient texts, but through his own memoirs. Peterson is helping us, whether parishioner or pastor ourselves, to see that the modern, CEO, pastoral counselor, mega-church Preacher, etc., is but a recent understanding of a role that goes back thousands of years. We do not have to adopt the recent definition, instead we can adopt a different definition, one that is counter-cultural, but that Peterson thinks is more biblical.
The center point, where he seems to finally understand his role as pastor is the point where he suggests his job is not to help people with problems (or see the people as problems themselves) but to pray with and for them and help them see themselves as followers of God. The role of the pastor is to point people to God. That seems simple and uncontroversial, but if that were what people expected pastors to actually do, churches would look very different. Instead many pastors are expected to look busy (and actually be busy), not praying or studying or preaching, but leading meetings, growing churches, doing the work of the church.
Part of the problem that Peterson speaks about several time is the lack of understanding about what a pastor should be about by those that should know. Only one of his seminary professors had ever been a pastor. (I had two, the one who was a current pastor did not have his contract renewed and was replaced by a professor that had never been a pastor to teach about pastoral care, preaching and supervise church internships. And the other, a famous professor that many would recognize had only been a pastor for a couple years and that was more than 40 years before I had him.) The writer that was recommended to Peterson as the best writer of pastoral theology had served one year as an assistant pastor. Peterson's supervisors in church planting literally wrote a book about church planting, but had never planted a church, and humorously never actually read Peterson's reports. If the professionals that teach and supervise pastors do not understand what it means to be a pastor, how can the members of the church be expected to understand?
It is a long and hard task to help a congregation see that a pastor's role is more complicated, but more important than we usually conceive. The last time I read this I thought that it should be read by all pastors and especially all seminary students. With this reading I think it is equally important that lay people read this, especially those that serve in roles where they supervise pastors or on pastoral search committees. The role of pastor is too important to be primarily shaped by our culture. Peterson is calling for a re-examination that could influence churches throughout the world.
The audiobook was provided by christianaudio.com for purposes of review. (Posted on 4/14/11)
I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audio, there is so much depth to it that it can be listened to many times.
I loved hearing the stories from Eugene Peterson’s childhood in Montana and as he got to grips with becoming a pastor. I love his honestly with the things he’s struggled with in his vocation, I also liked the way he described the changing face of the church in America through the years he was pastoring.
I had only heard of him in connection with ‘The Message Bible‘, so its been an fascinating time listening to this enthralling memoir.
Arthur Morey narration is perfect. His voice is very rich and it definitely suits this audio.
I’ve been listening to this on my mobile phone, which is not a smart phone but does have a mp3 player and my PC, and it’s sounded equally good on each player.
I recommend this to anyone who likes memoirs /biography and anyone involved in pastoral ministry.
Thanks to christianaudio.com Reviewer’s Program for this copy.
(Posted on 4/4/11)