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The Pastor: A Memoir

de Eugene H. Peterson

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484640,182 (4.28)Cap
In The Pastor, author Eugene Peterson, translator of the multimillion-selling The Message, tells the story of how he started Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland and his gradual discovery of what it really means to be a pastor. Steering away from abstractions, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, mega pastors, and the church's too-cozy relationship to American glitz and consumerism to present a simple, faith-based description of what being a minister means today. In the end, Peterson discovers that being a pastor boils down to "paying attention and calling attention to 'what is going on now' between men and women, with each other and with God."… (més)
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I bought “The Pastor” a couple of years ago, when it was on sale for 2 bucks on Kindle. I first heard of Eugene Peterson when “The Message” began to become popular, then saw him for the first time when there was a video interview of him with Bono.

Now, having read his memoir, and witnessed his practical and deep approach to pastoring and connecting the goodness of Jesus to the every day lives of regular people, I think I’ll read more of “The Message” translation. If his pastor’s heart comes through in “The Message” like it does in this memoir, then that’s good enough for me.

Note - he uses some terms here and there that were not inappropriate at the time, but that we’ve learned are not welcome. I’m sure that, if he was alive and offered a new version of this book, he’d correct some of those terms. Because he seemed to be was always listening learning - two traits that help us be better humans. ( )
  DwaynesBookList | Sep 25, 2021 |
Absolutely beautiful. Years before I went to seminary, Eugene Peterson was already shaping my imagination of what the Pastoral vocation looks like and his books imparted to me, his particular brand of earthy spirituality. What I loved about this book, is that while many of the stories were new, some were familiar from other parts of his corpus. Here, I saw a fresh the soil in which Peterson was formed. There are parts of this book that I want to read and re-read. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
We had to read one of his books at the Sem and, as I remember, for some reason I didn't like it. I'll have to find it and read it again because I have enjoyed other books of his I have read recently. Very enjoyable and refreshing and encouraging viewpoint of a pastor. Enjoyable book. I think I'll read it again! ( )
  Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
Eugene Peterson has had an interesting career in ministry, to put it mildly. He stumbled into ministry as he was finishing an undergraduate degree in philosophy and literature. After seminary he began a PhD in Semitic languages, intending to have an academic career. While teaching at seminary and pastoring a church as he worked on his dissertation he sensed that God was calling him into pastoral ministry. He followed the call and planted a church, serving there for 29 years. He then went back to teaching, and along the way mixed in writing, producing a large body of what I’ll call “really good books,” including the Bible paraphrase, The Message. In The Pastor: A Memoir, he takes a look back on his life and reflects on the things that gave it shape and meaning, particularly into that curious identity of “pastor.”

Peterson provides snapshots from each area of his life, describing things that in some cases he never considered having great meaning when they happened, but that were influential in shaping him as a pastor. As I read them I was reminded of things from my own life that have shaped me and prepared me, as I, like Peterson, move into a vocation that at one time I would have laughed if it was suggested to me.

Peterson has most definitely not written a “how to” guide on being a pastor, and he would have a low opinion of any such book. He learned, through trial and error, that being a pastor is not a job but a vocation, a vocation that is best lived into as the pastor serves among their congregation, day after day and year after year.

While not writing a “how to” manual of the pastoral vocation, as Peterson relates his own experiences I find that he does provide some general guidelines to foster a particular pastoral ethos among those who read this book. “Pastor” was not so much “what he did” but “who he was.” He did not “work” as a pastor 24/7 but his identity as a pastor permeated his life and relationships. He counted being a pastor to be a great privilege, writing,

“But the overall context of my particular assignment in the pastoral vocation, as much as I am able to do it, is to see to it that these men and women in my congregation become aware of the possibilities and promise of living out in personal and local detail what is involved in following Jesus, and be a companion to them as we do it together.” (247)

This is a book I highly recommend to anyone who has responded to God’s call to pastoral ministry. I believe that no matter how much experience one has in ministry reading it will stimulate both reflection and possibility on their journey. I’m looking forward to reading it again in a few years and seeing how the wisdom Peterson has written here speaks to me anew. ( )
  BradKautz | Jun 2, 2012 |
There are parts of this book that I really liked. I thought the conversation about what it means to have a pastoral vocation and imagination were really helpful and interesting. I appreciate that he creates an understanding of a contemplative pastor.

But I can't give this book a higher rating. Parts of it are repetitive. The same stories repeated with almost the exact same language. I was also left with a sense of unease throughout the book; One gets the sense that Peterson think quite highly of himself and not much of his congregation. He says over and over again that they are not intellectual, that they have TVs in every room and no books, etc. While this may be the case, the disdain he holds for this part of their lives is clear.

I know that this is a memoir about him as a pastor, but one gets the sense that he was the only spiritual person in his entire congregation. That he was the only one who knew what he was doing or had any language to express it.

There were also racially charged things throughout the book. Overuse of the word "gypped", talking about "Indians" instead of First Nations people, a couple comments about "the city", etc.

Overall I was disappointed. I don't expect Peterson to know it all or to be holy, but I would hope that he would have some sense of his own shortcomings and that that humility would come through in his story. I didn't get that sense. ( )
  shannonkearns | Dec 26, 2011 |
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In The Pastor, author Eugene Peterson, translator of the multimillion-selling The Message, tells the story of how he started Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland and his gradual discovery of what it really means to be a pastor. Steering away from abstractions, Peterson challenges conventional wisdom regarding church marketing, mega pastors, and the church's too-cozy relationship to American glitz and consumerism to present a simple, faith-based description of what being a minister means today. In the end, Peterson discovers that being a pastor boils down to "paying attention and calling attention to 'what is going on now' between men and women, with each other and with God."

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