Peterson, Eugene. The Pastor: A Memoir. Harper One, New York. 2011. ($34.95AU)
Eugene Peterson, author of the bestselling contemporary Bible translation, The Message, has recently turned his hand to writing memoir.
From childhood recollections to stories of planting Christ Our King Presbyterian Church; from memories of family to becoming one of the world’s most respected and prophetic voices for pastoral concerns – Peterson recounts his life in the same vivid, raw, and poetic language his translation is famous for. This is a wonderfully readable book inviting the reader to encounter God in street artists, various Jewish and Christian traditions, confronting relationships, and the wonder of creation.
‘Pastor’ is Peterson’s preferred title. For him it sums up a life’s work. Although Peterson is a scholar, church planter, and professor, this story tells how ‘pastor’ became, unexpectedly, the term he would most comfortably use to describe his vocation. This is a life given to the call to faithfully shepherd others over the long-haul.
Peterson planted, built, and pastored Christ Our King Presbyterian Church for more than 25 years. Only then did he become the professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College, Vancouver. Unlike many of his peers, Peterson resisted moving from church to church. In a time and culture dominated by the mega-church, Peterson wrote on, spoke about, and worked with pastors on the vital task of re-imagining a more faithful vision of the modern pastor.
Told with a memorable sense of humour (look out for the story of his first convert and his dealings with the church-planting board), Peterson seems to relish this genre. But The Pastor is much more than entertainment. At heart this – like all Peterson’s work – is an invitation to more faithfully and authentically follow Jesus.
This book is grounded in Peterson’s deep love of creation, family, prayer, and place while articulating a profound understanding of the subversive, imaginative, and story-saturated calling Peterson has given himself to. This book is a call to a more faithful, creative, and biblical, approach to mission and ministry.
The Pastor is another book by Peterson that deserves to be widely read and carefully considered.