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Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology Paperback – January 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. One of Peterson's early books, long before his blockbuster Bible paraphrase The Message, was titled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. This pastor, professor and writer has lived up to the promise of that title, consistently producing books of uncommon eloquence that explore the Christian life through the lens of scripture. In this volume, the first of a projected five, Peterson lays the foundation for "spiritual theology." Following the biblical languages, he asks readers to consider "how our perceptions would change if we eliminated the word 'spirit' from our language and used only 'wind' and 'breath.' Spirit was not 'spiritual' for our ancestors; it was sensual." Beginning with an account of Gerard Manley Hopkins's vivid poem "As Kingfishers Catch Fire," Peterson goes on to employ his own considerable gifts as a writer to uncover the sensual, concrete realities behind biblical texts from Genesis to Revelation. These nuanced and convincing readings help frame the three areas where Peterson sees Christ at "play": the beauty of creation, the tragedy of history and the beloved, bewildering community of the church. "The single most important thing to understand in spiritual theology is that it is not about theology... it is a cultivated disposition to live theology." Rich, generous and wise, Peterson's "conversation" will help readers at every stage of faith to live their faith more deeply. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In this first and foundational volume of a five-volume series, Peterson rescues spirituality from both its ancient connotations of cloistered monasticism and its modern contamination with self-help boosterism and neopagan recreation. No dogmatic catechist, Peterson invites his readers into a true dialogue--speaking and listening in turn--that opens up Christian spirituality as a lived reality. Though grounded in scripture and in Trinitarian doctrine, the spirituality Peterson would foster is deeply experiential, intensely felt as a growing awareness of both transcendent miracles and intimate connections. That growth comes not through personal achievement but rather through selfless submission to the divine presence, memorably described in the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem from which Peterson takes his title. Allowing the Lord to play in us, Peterson promises, will nurture receptivity to the wonders of creation as we recognize in Christ's birth the revelatory key to the universe and as we reverence the Sabbath as a weekly day of renewal. Richly ecumenical, Peterson's reflections will attract Christians from diverse affiliations. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (January 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802862977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802862976
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Eugene Peterson impressed me long before his world-wide fame with "The Message." Since one of his earliest books ("Run with the Horses"), I've been drawn to his combination of poetry, prose, power, passion, and personal honesty.

In "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places," Peterson begins his "Opus"--a proposed five-volume set on spiritual theology. Spiritual theology, a common enough term in Church history, needs defining today. Simply stated, it is a theology of the spiritual life--what the Bible teachers about how we love God and love others (Matthew 22:35-40). As Peterson puts it, "The single most important thing to understand in spiritual theology is that it is not about theology ... it is a cultivated disposition to live theology."

As the sub-title suggests, Peterson writes in his normal conversational, soulful, narrative manner, explaining and exploring the nuances of the Spirit. As always, his writing is "earthy"--real, raw, captivating, and convicting.

In a day when Christian authors tend to write from extremes (either theology or spirituality), it's refreshing to see Peterson unite (reunite) the two. Not only refreshing-it's essential. An accurate understanding of spirituality must combine community (how we relate in Christ), content (what the Bible says about our relationships), character (who we are from the inside out), and competence (how we mature relationally) all in the context of Church history (listening to the voices of our ancestors in the faith).

If you're looking for a "how to" manual, you may find yourself disappointed. That's simply not Peterson's style or intent. However, if you're hoping for a foundation upon which to build your spiritual life, then you can find none better than "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been searching for 50 years for a cogent explanation of the spiritual life. I have found that in Eugene Peterson's magisterial book, "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places." I hope if you make the time to read this book, you also will be edified by his remarkable insights into the proper way to live the Christian life. His observations into North American abuses of spirituality are right on target. His explanation of Deuteronomy is breathtaking. Most excitingly, this is merely the first of a planned five-book series.

I particularly appreciate his refusal to adopt the American Calvinist mentality that says all effort and all failure is our responsibility. That false understanding has infected the Roman Catholic church since the 17th century.

His appreciation of creation and our celebration of creation in wotrship, his deep understanding of history's failures and our acceptance of those failures in sacrifice are two of the most powerful sections of a book I have been rereading all winter and spring and summer.
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Format: Hardcover
There are way too many books on Christian spirituality that do lip service (or no service) to an informed biblical theology. I gratefully report that Peterson's work is a wonderfully composed addition to the conversation on spirituality from a soundly biblical perspective.

Peterson lays the groundwork for this first of a proposed five volume set on spiritual theology, by defining the terms he uses, setting the stage from the grounding texts from which he will work out his theology of the spiritual life, etc...

The book's sections are long (only three chapters for a 338 page text), but he takes his primary ideas of Christ in creation, history and community and formats each section against the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. In each chapter, Peterson then deals with the main threat against each of these facets of spirituality, includes two grounding texts per chapter to elaborate on the spiritual aspect- one from the OT and one from the NT and then develops the implications of life in these realms.

Most of the books on spirituality that I have read are merely footnotes on the classics (John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Bernard of Clairveuax, Blaise Pascal, Francois Fenelon, etc...). Peterson's work is original, brilliantly developed, creative, readable, practical and (for you preachers) quotable!! This WILL BE a modern classic!!
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Format: Hardcover
This is the best nonfiction book I've read in 10 years. Though I have friends who tsk-tsk, I like to mark up my books. And I have underlined a phrase or sentence on nearly every page of this hefty volume.

"A conversation in spiritual theology." I didn't know what to expect from this subtitle. Here's what I got: an engaging overview of basic Christian theology presented in conversational tone and with practical application that isn't just "tacked on" but is integral to the theology itself. In his introduction, Peterson explains, " `Spiritual' keeps `theology' from degenerating into merely thinking and talking and writing about God at a distance. `Theology' keeps `spiritual' from becoming merely thinking and talking and writing about the feelings and thoughts one has about God."

What Peterson has done is quite difficult to pull off. This material seems fresh to me --- steeped in Christianity since childhood; at the same time I would heartily recommend it to any serious seeker (serious enough not to be intimidated by 350 pages) looking for a foundational book on Christianity. There's nothing complicated here; the material is straightforward and clear. In the first 35 pages, called "Clearing the Playing Field," Peterson tells some critically basic biblical stories and defines terms (spirituality, Jesus, soul, and fear-of-the-Lord) that set the stage for his three-part drama of how we live out our faith (1) in creation, (2) in history, and (3) in community.

The outline is very well executed, with each of the three parts showing how Jesus lived out the dynamic.
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