Eugene Peterson in conversation – 2012 New Life (Colorado) Conference. Pastor Brady Boyd sits down with Eugene Peterson at his home in Montana to discuss his story, The Church and his hopes for the Local church Vimeo recording of the interview here. Downloadable Mp4 and Mp3 recordings can be found here (scroll down to 2012 conference). It feels like a complimentary resource to the excellent, recently published, collection of essay’s, which engage Peterson’s thought on pastoring and church - Pastoral Work: Engagements with the Vision of Eugene Peterson (published Jan. 2014).
See also this brief online (written) 2012 interview with Peterson on the reading and writing life of the Pastor.
I was moved this morning by the BBC story, a story briefly told, about Fr. Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit priest in Homs (Syria). He was shot dead earlier this month.
“…No-one who knew Frans van der Lugt, the Dutch Jesuit priest murdered in Syria, was surprised by his refusal to leave the besieged city of Homs. He had spent almost 50 years in Syria and had been in Homs since the siege began more than two years ago…” ~ Daniel Silas Adamson. You can read the rest of Adamson’s story here. The New York Times remembered him here.
In an appeal (9th April 2014) to end violence in Homs and the rest of Syria, Pope Francis remembered Father van der Lugt:
“…Last Monday in Homs, Syria, the Rev. Fr. Frans van der Lugt was assassinated, a Dutch Jesuit brother of mine, 75 years old, who arrived in Syria about 50 years ago; he always did good to all, with gratitude and love, and therefore he was loved and respected by Christians and Muslims. His brutal murder has filled me with deep pain and it made me think of a lot of people still suffering and dying in that tormented country, my beloved Syria, already too long in the throes of a bloody conflict, which continues to reap death and destruction. I also think of the many people abducted, both Christians and Muslims, in Syria and in other countries as well, among which are bishops and priests…”
It reminded me of Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria. Their story was told in a book The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love and Terror in Algeria by John W. Kiser, and the powerful, very moving film: Of God’s and Men – more here, here and here. Like Frans van der Lugt they co-existed lovingly and peacefully amongst Muslims, as indeed was the case. "Fourteen centuries of common life between Christians and Muslims is not something to be cast aside lightly." ~ Paolo dall Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who also spent his life in Syria and has not been seen or heard of since he was kidnapped by Islamist rebels in Raqqa in July 2013.
It was published by IntervarsityPress earlier this month (April 2014) and is surrounded by a significant amount of promotional material.
A few people I respect are saying some very positive things about it. Alan Roxburgh, for example. He writes:
"Paul, Tim and Dwight each live the reality they describe. I know they've paid high prices for taking a journey born out of biblical imagination and profound instincts for the practice of gospel life in North America. The path they describe is not and will not be popular. It sounds sexy and seems full of romance, but, as they well know, this is another kind of journey—without glamor, romance or individualistic heroism—focused on the agency of God and the disorienting, disturbing, disrupting work of the Spirit. We are being invited to refound the church for the sake of the healing of neighborhoods and communities in the name of Jesus. Read this book and ask how you can practice life in the 'parish.'"
—Alan J. Roxburgh, The Missional Network
Part One: Why Do We Need a New Parish?
1. Dislocated: Naming the Crisis We All Create
2. Misplaced: How the Church Lost Its Place
Part Two: What Is The New Parish?
3. Faithful Presence: Ending Techniques for Renewal That Perpetuate Fragmentation
4. Ecclesial Center: How Worship Beyond the Gathering Reconfigures the Church
5. New Commons: Finding the Church in All of Life
Part Three: How Do We Practice the New Parish?
6. Presencing: Adapting to the Spirit’s Movement
7. Rooting: Growing Stability Within Your Place
8. Linking: Connecting the Church Across Places
9. Leading: Living a Life Worth Following
Conclusion: Presence in a Post-Everything Future
Publisher information here. In a related fashion I also want to highlight again an important, soon to be published, book by Canadian friend Len Hjalmarson - No Home Like Place: A Christian Theology of Place. As I said to Len, it's a book I wished I'd written. "Place" (context) is so very important; so incarnational. Keep an eye out for Len's book too. It'll be an important read; one which I imagine will theologically enrich the arguments and practices of The New Parish.
Thomas Merton's advice to a diocesan priest in 1968 reflected his own evolving sense of his monastic and priestly vocation... It's not dissimilar to my own view.
"Couldn't you be a sort of 'underground priest' in lay clothes… In other words it seems to me that in this Post-Conciliar period you might be called to a kind of hidden service in the sort of unofficial and informal life you desire. In short, be like a layman, live like a layman, but do some of the priestly work and service along with it… All the more reason to get out of the ordinary patterns and yet to be a priest nevertheless, and work in a quiet, relaxed relationship with people you can relate to without too much difficulty. After all, you are always going to have to relate to people. See your priesthood not as a role or an office, but as just part of your own life and your relation to other persons. You can bring them Christ in some quiet way, and perhaps you will find yourself reaching people that the Church would not otherwise contact." (Father D. 3.14.68. From The School of Charity, p. 371)
“…Like a jagged rock thrown into a flowing stream, the church once “troubled the waters.” Now, however, it seems as if the church has slowly, often imperceptibly been worn so smooth by the culture that it no longer creates any disturbance at all…”
James K A. Smith’s latest publication out shortly:
“Following his successful Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? leading Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith introduces the philosophical sources behind postliberal theology. Offering a provocative analysis of relativism, Smith provides an introduction to the key voices of pragmatism: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, and Robert Brandom. Many Christians view relativism as the antithesis of absolute truth and take it to be the antithesis of the gospel. Smith argues that this reaction is a symptom of a deeper theological problem: an inability to honor the contingency and dependence of our creaturehood. Appreciating our created finitude as the condition under which we know (and were made to know) should compel us to appreciate the contingency of our knowledge without sliding into arbitrariness. Saying "It depends" is not the equivalent of saying "It's not true" or "I don't know." It is simply to recognize the conditions of our knowledge as finite, created, social beings. Pragmatism, says Smith, helps us recover a fundamental Christian appreciation of the contingency of creaturehood. This addition to an acclaimed series engages key thinkers in modern philosophy with a view to ministry and addresses the challenge of relativism in a creative, original way. ”
"It Depends": Creation, Contingency, and the Specter of Relativism
Community as Context: Wittgenstein on "Meaning as Use"
Who's Afraid of Contingency? Owning Up to Our Creaturehood with Rorty
Reasons to Believe: Making Faith Explicit after Brandom .
The (Inferential) Nature of Doctrine: Postliberalism as Christian Pragmatism
Epilogue: How to be a Conservative Relativist Index.
"It is often observed that one of the most important and revealing questions you can ask someone identified as a 'thinker' is 'What are you afraid of?' Writing with clarity and great sympathy, Smith helps us see that Christian theologians have betrayed their best insights by being afraid of relativism. He helps us see that the challenge is not relativism itself but rather the epistemological concerns that produced relativism. As is usually the case with Smith's work, this book is both clear and constructive: he not only provides a clear account of the work of Wittgenstein, Rorty, and Brandom but also develops an account of why and how Christians should navigate the contingent character of our lives."
Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Emeritus Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School
“Eugene Peterson may be the most influential theological writer in the church today. Yet because most of his career has not been in academia there is not much critical engagement with his work. Here some of the finest scholar-pastors we have describe the way Peterson has inspired and infuriated on the way to (hopefully) more faithful pastorates.”
"For those who knew Eugene Peterson only through his idiomatically rendered Bible, The Message, his memoir, The Pastor, was a revelation. But only a partial one. For the full 360-degree refraction, read Pastoral Work . . . which collects the very lively thoughts of sixteen noted scholar-pastors addressing 'Pastor Pete's' influence on them and their calling."
—David Van Biema, former chief religion writer, Time magazine
"These engagements with Eugene Peterson will be valuable to anyone who cares about pastoral ministry. Like Peterson's own work, they are informed by long obedience and patient reflection, and they are refreshingly free of cant, hype, and prattle."
—John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture
"Here is a book that will deepen, challenge, inform, enrich, and renew ministry in just the same way and to just the same degree as the work of its subject, Eugene Peterson. Peterson's legacy will not finally be in the written word but in the reflective practice of his countless disciples, shaping communities in ways inspired by his words and example. To read this book is to feel encouraged, hopeful, and moved to prayer and service; and relieved to rediscover that one's ministry is not a lone quest but a shared joy."
—Sam Wells, Vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
You’ll find a PDF of the Introduction (and Contents page) here.
Today, I want to highlight another theology book (pub. 4th December 2013). This time one edited by Jason Goroncy, a friend teaching out of Dunedin, on my home island.
While I’ve yet to read the book, I’ve been looking forward to its publication as I had the privilege of attending the conference from which the papers (largely) that make up this collection were delivered. It was a really special time, and I’m delighted both to see the papers I particularly valued in a published format, but also to seeing them reach a wider audience. The title of the book was the title of the conference, and the papers focus on the confluence between the arts and theology. I might get a chance to review it in due course, albeit it won’t be a critical review.
The conference also featured a special screening of the outstanding NZ movie The Insatiable Moon that I understand you can find on iTunes. Watch the film and read the book for a multisensory experience!
"Tikkun Olam"—To Mend the World is premised on the conviction that artists and theologians have things to learn from one another, things about the complex interrelationality of life and about a coherence of things given and sustained by God. The ten essays compiled in this volume seek to attend to the lives, burdens, and hopes that characterize human life in a world broken but unforgotten, in travail but moving towards the freedom promised by a faithful Creator. They reflect on whether the world—wounded as it is by war, by hatred, by exploitation, by neglect, by reason, and by human imagination itself—can be healed. Can there be repair? And can art and theology tell the truth of the world's woundedness and still speak of its hope?”
Jason highlights the “Contents” of the book here. He includes a brief section of the Introduction. My notes from the 2011 conference can be found here, here, here, and here.
A new publication (the title of which is the title of this blog post) came out in early November 2013. David Bosch (1929-1992), along with Lesslie Newbigin, has been a seminal voice in the Mission in Western Culture conversation.
Written by Kevin Livingston who is Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Livingston begins by reviewing Bosch’s background and exploring key themes in his understanding of mission and evangelism. He thenexplores Bosch’s legacy from the perspective of the missionary nature of the church. The church is God’s kingdom community, acting as a witness to and instrument of the coming reign of God. The church is God’s alternative community, simultaneously set apart from the world but also for the sake of the world, exemplifying the radical implications of Christ’s new community. The church is God’s reconciled and reconciling community, serving as a sign and embodiment of God’s love in Christ.
For those acquainted with Bosch only as the author of his magisterial Transforming Mission, Livingston shows how Bosch integrated his theology and practice in a faithful, contextually relevant way within South Africa and the global church.