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Subversive Spirituality [Paperback]

Eugene H. Peterson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jun 1997
Subversive Spirituality is a gathering together of articles written by Eugene Peterson over the past twenty-five years. Made up of occasional pieces, short biblical studies, poetry, pastoral readings and interviews, this book reflects on the overlooked facets of the spiritual life. Peterson captures the epiphanies of life with the pleasing pastoral style and inspiring depth of insight for which he is well known. Peterson describes his book this way: "The gathering of articles and essays, poems and conversations, is a kind of kitchen midden of my noticings of the obvious in the course of living out the Christian life in the vocational context of pastor, writer, and professor. The randomness and repetitions and false starts are rough edges that I am leaving as is in the interests of honesty. Spirituality is not, by and large, smooth. I do hope, however, that they will be found to be 'freshly phrased.'"

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Product details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1 Jun 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802842976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802842978
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A quite remarkable thing has been taking place in this city in the last 25 years; spiritual theology has been named and recognized, appreciated and sought after. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is spirituality? 21 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In writing this book, `Subversive Spirituality', Eugene Peterson, professor of spiritual theology at Regent College, Vancouver, has gone back over his writings of the past twenty-five years and pulled together elements of writings in essays, biblical studies, poetry, pastoral readings, and interviews to examine many of the overlooked aspects of spirituality.
Peterson writes: `This gathering of articles and essays, poems and conversations, is a kind of kitchen midden of my noticings of the obvious in the course of living out the Christian life in the vocational context of pastor, writer, and professor. The randomness and repetitions and false starts are rough edges that I am leaving as is in the interests of honesty. Spirituality is not, by and large, smooth.'
We have a particular meaning attached to the word subversive, which is generally a sociological and political one. While this is certain akin to the meaning utilised here, it has a different slant and context. All spirituality, in a sense, is subversive, in the sense that it seeks not that which the material world (and usually that means the political world) holds to be important, but seeks a transformation. Most major religious figures have been subversive -- they have tried to change in small and major ways the prevailing framework of life. Religion is sometimes described as the institutionalisation of a revolution; when the institution overpowers the revolution, what is needed to get back on track is a subversion.
Peterson divides the book into five broad sections: Spirituality, Biblical Studies, Poetry, Pastoral Readings, and Conversations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read. 27 Feb 2014
By CW
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peterson's language is of a particular style. When I first read one of his books it took me a long time and persistence to get into it but by the end I was hooked. And, of course, his paraphrase of the Bible (even though it is written in American english) makes the Bible much more understandable. I like this book's frank appraisal of modern church and spirituality. So many churches are dead boring and have lost the dynamic of the first century church which was just that, subversive. This book has really encouraged me to examine myself to see how I can, in the words of Matthew Parris, the atheist, discover the 'personhood of God' in a closer relationship with Christ. I would encourage anybody who is a bit disillusioned with"church" to read this book.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is spirituality? 7 Jun 2003
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In writing this book, `Subversive Spirituality', Eugene Peterson, professor of spiritual theology at Regent College, Vancouver, has gone back over his writings of the past twenty-five years and pulled together elements of writings in essays, biblical studies, poetry, pastoral readings, and interviews to examine many of the overlooked aspects of spirituality.
Peterson writes: `This gathering of articles and essays, poems and conversations, is a kind of kitchen midden of my noticings of the obvious in the course of living out the Christian life in the vocational context of pastor, writer, and professor. The randomness and repetitions and false starts are rough edges that I am leaving as is in the interests of honesty. Spirituality is not, by and large, smooth.'
We have a particular meaning attached to the word subversive, which is generally a sociological and political one. While this is certain akin to the meaning utilised here, it has a different slant and context. All spirituality, in a sense, is subversive, in the sense that it seeks not that which the material world (and usually that means the political world) holds to be important, but seeks a transformation. Most major religious figures have been subversive -- they have tried to change in small and major ways the prevailing framework of life. Religion is sometimes described as the institutionalisation of a revolution; when the institution overpowers the revolution, what is needed to get back on track is a subversion.
Peterson divides the book into five broad sections: Spirituality, Biblical Studies, Poetry, Pastoral Readings, and Conversations. In discussing scripture, seminary experiences, pastoral encounters and relationships, innovative ideas and creative imaginings, Peterson presents, as it were, the raw, unrefined nuggets of spiritual expression he has encountered, in his own life and in the experiences of those close by him, as well as those lessons he has gleaned from the studies of others.
`Spirituality is always in danger of self-absorption, of becoming so intrigued with matters of soul that God is treated as a mere accessory to my experience. This requires much vigilance. Spiritual theology is, among other things, the exercise of this vigilance.'
Spirituality is a subversive practise, when done properly. As Peterson states in one of his conversations, Christians in the West believe they are living in a culture which is Christian, and are often truly amazed to discover that they have more in common with the idol worshippers warned against in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures than with anything Jesus would have really wanted.
As one currently in seminary, I found his discussion of spiritual formation in context of the seminary to be intriguing and enlightening.
`They commonly enter seminary motivated by a commitment to God and a desire to serve their Lord in some form of ministry, and find that they are being either distracted or deflected from that intention at every turn. They find themselves immersed in Chalcedonian controversies, they find themselves staying up late at night memorising Greek paradigms, they wake in the morning, rubbing their eyes, puzzled over hairsplitting distinctions between homoousios and homoiousios. This is not what they had bargained on.... Seminaries were regarded as the graveyard of spirituality. Seminaries were where men and women lost their faith.'
I am fortunate that my seminary experience has, thus far, maintained a balance of spiritual encouragement as well as academic enlightenment.
This is a first class book, borne of a lifetime of searching, reflecting, and acting, and can give much food for thought. Regardless of the denomination of the reader, there is material here for the deepening of one's own spirituality, and for putting into life's practise a greater amount of living in accord with the spirit.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Peterson Sampler - Start with this book. 26 July 2002
By Max Rondoni - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Eugene Peterson is an author that should be read by all believers - not just pastors. To best appreciate his work, it is helpful to meet Eugene Peterson - the man, the husband, father, pastor, etc. This book covers articles that were written between 1969 and 1996. The content demands interaction and will take you back and will help you to look forward in your own journey of life. After this book is thoroughly read - after this feast, you will have an appetite for his other work.
My advice is not to merely read, but experience what you read, and by all means - share with your family and friends - invite them to the banquet.
Max Rondoni
Menlo Park, California
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Going To Buy One of These! You Should Too!! 2 April 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I visited a hospital patient today my associate pastor handed me a copy of this book and told me that her husband rarely reads to her, but this book got him excited. I sat down with the book and began to look it over. I didn't stop until I finished the book! My only regreat is that I didn't own the copy. I wanted to highlight many of the passages to share with my family. Now, I have to get my own copy.

This is a collection of Eugene Peterson's writings down through the years. Many of them are encouraging: just as many run counter to modern Protestant pastoral thought.

Eugene Peterson writes in the wordy style of a poet. Often I warn the more practical readers out there that they might stumble over the excessive words. I don't think you will stumble over this one. The chapters are short, practical, and diverse. This is a book for both the poet and pragmatist.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great essays, interviews 16 Feb 2014
By Nathaniel Rhoads - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a collection of some of Peterson's articles and essays, some previously published. It's a great collection, including some poetry he wrote in reflection on the Beatitudes. Most meaningful to me: the several interviews at the end of the book. Readers here get a personal look at Peterson's pastoral experience, and it was an incredibly encouraging, refreshing read for me. Excellent stuff for anyone, particularly pastors. Even if you've read his other works, get this if for the interviews alone!
5.0 out of 5 stars Subversive indeed! 21 Jun 2013
By Black Tip Shark @hk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I like the way Pastor Peterson describes faith. I'm impressed by the focus he has on all the small and common things/people in life. It's impressive to learn how he sees the work of the Almighty God in ALL creations --- especially the little-known, not renowned . He keeps stressing that "he's only a local pastor of a small congregation", "not a man with big vision", and he's truthful saying so, but look at the impact he's made on the christian community worldwide! Thank God for you Pastor Peterson.
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