What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson is another of the author's deep trips into practical theology. The subtitle to this book, published in 2005, is A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. I really would like to have a conversation with a writer like this.

You may recognize Peterson as author of the Bible paraphrase, The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language.

I slowly devoured this book over a period of weeks last year and I took some notes that I want to share with anyone who might read. And if no one is reading I want to go over my notes to enhance my appreciation of the book and its application to my own life. As a pastor I take seriously my responsibility as chief theologian in my local church.

Christ Plays is one of those volumes that makes you read a while and think a while. I just love books like that. Simultaneously, while reading works like this, I have several other books going, some entertaining reading, but this kind of thing is the meat and potatoes of literature.

The title of the book is from a Gerald Manley Hopkins sonnet. (I've got to read more poetry.) If I get Peterson right, the premise of the book is basically that we need to live what we know about Christ and every area of our lives - every facet of the world around us - contains spiritual truth. You can't limit God to theology texts and sermons - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Theology should not be "depersonalized" and "functionalized", says the author. (p.1)

As is stated on page 29 - "Living, living fully well, is at the heart of all serious spirituality."

The first division of the book, pages 1-129, is entitled, Christ Plays in Creation.

P. 13 - Peterson makes a critical observation about the tendency to solve problems in our culture today through "self help" methodologies that leave Christ out. "Now, exposed and vulnerable to a culture that is only too happy to supply the terms of discourse, spirituality is diluted or emptied of any gospel distinctiveness."

If you get your hands on a copy of this book do yourself a favor and read the awesome way that the author parallels the stories of Nicodemus (John 3) and the Samaritan woman (John 4) between pages 13-20!

P.18 - "In both conversations the word 'spirit' is the pivotal word."
P.19 - "Jesus is the primary figure in both stories. Although Nicodemus and the Samaritan provide the occasion, it is Jesus who provides the content."

P.22 - "The word 'create' occurs more times in the preaching of Isaiah of the exile than any other place in the Bible - seventeen times compared to the six occurrences in the great creation narrative in Genesis..." Hmmm... I'm going to study this more deeply.

P.25 - I like what EP says about what happened on the day of Pentecost. Why did the fire rest over the head of each and every individual believer? "...each person became an altar..."

Pp.33-34 - (because of Jesus) "...we are not free to make up our own private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and interpenetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says. Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air, so that we needn't be someone else or somewhere else. Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unselfconsciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now."

I'll pick up more on this book in another blog in several days perhaps.


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