From Publishers Weekly
Continuing his series of "conversations" in spiritual theology, prolific author, pastor and theologian Eugene H. Peterson (most familiar for his Bible paraphrase The Message) provides an intimate look at Jesus' words. Arguing that the Fall created a "language catastrophe," Peterson contends that people of faith need to "eliminate the bilingualism" they use to talk about religion and everyday life: "There is no 'Holy Ghost' language used for matters of God and salvation and then a separate secular language for buying cabbages and cars." To this end, the author explores Jesus' prayers across the Gospels and parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke. Using poet Emily Dickinson's dictum to "tell it slant," Peterson ably shows that "personal, metaphorical, particular, relational, local" language can convey profound religious ideas. His meditations on prayer ask universal questions about its efficacy; most moving are reflections on Jesus' last brief words, which form a "prayer mosaic from the cross." Peterson's greatest gift is his ability to write about such ideas as sin, repentance, grace and glory in masterfully simple-and concrete-ways.
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Taking his theme from a famous Dickinson poem, Peterson searches the New Testament not for magisterial statements but rather for the “slanted” language of Jesus’ seemingly casual speech. In the first part of this inquiry, readers relive Jesus’ journey through Samaria to Jerusalem (as recounted by Luke), hearing again the resonant voice that punctuates that journey with 10 parables, so slanted that only intense listeners will tease out their inner meaning. Only the attentive will perceive, for instance, the full message Jesus delivers about the dynamics of hypocrisy in his story of the Pharisee and the taxman. Peterson then shifts his focus to examine the words Jesus speaks in his prayers. But readers soon realize that even in his prayers, Jesus speaks words slanted by the human needs of those around him. By interweaving relevant stories from his own life, Peterson helps readers recognize times when the Holy Spirit carries slanted sacred meanings into their own lives. Valuable to Christian readers striving to make faith more than a Sunday ritual. --Bryce Christensen