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Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

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Making something beautiful in a broken world can be harrowing work, and it can’t be done alone.
Over the last twenty years, Andrew Peterson has performed thousands of concerts, published four novels, released ten albums, taught college and seminary classes on writing, founded a nonprofit ministry for Christians in the arts, and executive-produced a film—all in a belief that God calls us to proclaim the gospel and the coming kingdom using whatever gifts are at our disposal. He’s stumbled along the way, made mistake after mistake, and yet has continually encountered the grace of God through an encouraging family, a Christ-centered community of artists in the church, and the power of truth, beauty, and goodness in Scripture and the arts.
While there are many books about writing, none deal first-hand with the intersection of songwriting, storytelling, and vocation, along with nuts-and-bolts exploration of the great mystery of creativity. In Adorning the Dark, Andrew describes six principles for the writing life:
serving the work
serving the audience
and community
Through stories from his own journey, Andrew shows how these principles are not merely helpful for writers and artists, but for anyone interested in imitating way the Creator interacts with his creation.
This book is both a memoir of Andrew’s journey and a handbook for artists, written in the hope that his story will provide encouragement to others stumbling along in pursuit of a calling to adorn the dark with the light of Christ.

224 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2019

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About the author

Andrew Peterson

15 books3,096 followers
Hey, folks. If you're just discovering me or any of my work, it can be a little confusing because there are several facets to it. Here’s the rundown:

• I write songs. I also record them to these cool things called CDs and put on concerts around the country. (And beyond! To my great delight, I get to play in Europe every year or so.)

• I write books. I’ve written a four-part fantasy series for young readers called the Wingfeather Saga. They are being re-released through Random House starting in 2020 as collectible hardcovers with all new illustrations. B&H Publishing released my first non-fiction book, Adorning the Dark, Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, in October of 2019.

• I'm the proprietor of the Rabbit Room, a community of songwriters, authors, and artists interested in storytelling, faith, and fellowship.

• I've been married for over twenty years to Jamie, and we have three sweet children: Aedan, Asher, and Skye. We live in a magical place we call the Warren, just south of Nashville.

The common thread in all this is my love for Christ and his Kingdom, my belief in the power of story and art, and my need for family and community. If I had to boil it all down, I'd say this: I want to use my gifts to tell the truth, and to tell it as beautifully as I can. Andrew-peterson.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 931 reviews
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
469 reviews179 followers
June 21, 2020



If you're a Christian: read this.

If you're an artist: read this.

If you're a Christian artist: you need this.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 20 books1,961 followers
November 7, 2019
I am always a bit sceptical about these sorts of books. I generally like to read them after the author has died :) I have not been all that familiar with Andrew Peterson's works either. I had heard a few songs and my son Andrew loved his Wingfeather Saga very much. Even so this popped up on my radar and I decided to press "buy now."

What a delightful surprise. I so related to almost every word out of his mouth from the angst of knowing you should not be writing anything to the demand of your soul that you write. Andrew captured the craft of crafting in a humble and good way. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and telling "Alexis" to play the songs he referred to while I read.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Dragina.
581 reviews14 followers
January 21, 2020
*cries* Its so raw and gorgeous. 💖

I never, ever read nonfiction.....and then give it 5 stars. Like ever. 0.0 This book has knocked all my expectations off the table and handed me something better. Something I can't name for lack of words.

As I sit here ... thinking how to explain my feelings so it's adequate to the beauty Andrew Peterson handed me ... my heart beats fast and my brain continues to go blank.

What do I say? What CAN I say?

Peterson pours his heart and passion into this book, wraps it up with love and prayer, then asks that we hear what he has to say. I think we can do that.

Andrew Peterson is a man of humble depth and thought, urging us to write (songs, books, poems, etc) with raw openness. Let that idea--that passion--have it's own wings, but write from your heart. I really appreciated everything he had to say (you don't want to know how much of this book is highlighted....😂😂). I just feel so full of goodness and encouragement!! *shrieks*

Every time I opened this book I longed and expected to be filled with goodness (for lack of better words). Every time it surpassed what I was expecting. 💖💔💖💔💖 I was--still am--amazed at the depth and beauty with which it touched me.

It was gorgeously written and the Holy Spirit was SO in this. 💖💖 I really wanna meet him in person now, even though I feel that I know him so well already.

His testimony and advice is unique and wonderful.

GAHhhhhh. *cries in hands* I just can't express my feels perfectly.


Read it. Buy it. Own it. Love it. 💕💕💕💕

Looking for encouragement, inspiration, or writing advice with a Christian perspective? This book is the one for you.

**FTC DISCLOSURE** I received a complementary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required. This is my opinion, so please don't take it personally if something was offensive to you. Thanks! :)
Profile Image for Jamie.
244 reviews
December 23, 2019
I enjoyed listening to every minute of this book. It’s such a personal and honest book.

Do yourself a favor and get it on Audible. There is beautiful acoustic guitar music in between each chapter and Andrew Peterson plays the songs that are sprinkled throughout the book.
Profile Image for S.G. Willoughby.
Author 10 books103 followers
June 11, 2020
I don't remember the last time I read a nonfiction book this fast. But this was BEAUTIFUL (and true and honest ;)).

I received a review copy before this was released, but . . . I never got around to reading it, despite my excitement and the glowing reviews. Way too long later, a friend gave me a good push into reading it (I'm looking at you Bethany) and I'm so glad she did. (Everyone needs those Resonators.)

This was EXACTLY what I needed right now as I'm dealing with creative and relational burnout and wrestling with how to have balance in my life and writing career.

I definitely think that every writer, painter, musician, quilter, and graphic designer (or whatever artist you are) needs to read this. But even if you don't consider yourself an artist, we were all created with the ability to create, and this book shares far more than just songwriting tips. Andrew Peterson shares valuable insights for all areas of life.

Though I suspect this book will have different significance for each reader, some things that stuck out to me were these:
-Writing and work are meant to be acts of worship. I knew this -- mentally. But God used this book to really sink that reality into my heart in a new way.
-Creating is HARD work. But so worth it. And . . . it's a constant tension between various extremes and paradoxes. But that's okay.

Anyway. Read this beautiful book. I love how Andrew Peterson shares with such humble honesty, without pride or false humility or shame. Instead, this drips with grace, love, and holiness. As an author feeling like she hated writing, this helped me refocus my heart and remember that the struggle is normal, but that God is the One on whom my creating rests.

Some favorite quotes:
"Let your words and music be more beautiful by their death in the soil of worship, that the husk of your own imperfection might fall away and germinate into some bright, eternal song only God could have written.”

"Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor, too, by making worlds and works of beauty that blanket the earth like flowers. Let your homesickness keep you always from spiritual slumber."

"Maybe the song you're writing is for one specific heart-broken soul who won't be born for another four hundred years."

"Those of us who write, who sing, who paint, must remember that to a child a song may glow like a nightlight in the scary bedroom. It may be the only thing holding back the monsters [...] May we take that seriously. It is our job, it is our ministry, it is the sword we swing in the Kingdom, to remind children that the good guys win, that the stories are true, and that a fool's hope may be the best kind."
Profile Image for Fëalórin.
50 reviews40 followers
February 4, 2022
Adorning the Dark should be required reading for every aspiring Christian artist. Andrew Peterson writes from the enlightened perspective of a songwriter and novelist who's done the work and reaped the rewards. In this heartfelt memoir, he shares his life, his struggles, and what he learned on the way, covering such topics as selectivity, serving others with your art, the value of discipline, and the role of community in fostering creativity. If you like encouragement and want to be inspired to pursue your sacred calling with renewed fervor, then this book is for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Profile Image for Abigayle Claire.
Author 8 books223 followers
March 4, 2020
If you're a Christian, read this to be encouraged on how much you can bring to the world of creativity.
If you're a person who pursues creativity, read this to know you're not alone on the hard road. And that the hard road of glorifying God with your art is worth taking.
If you're a person who doesn't think you're creative, read this to understand that we all have the calling to glorify God with whatever we do. And that pursuit is a creative pursuit, no matter what that practically looks like.
If you're a person who enjoys the inner workings of art and creativity's influence and power, read this to soak up a modern-day journey.
If you're a person who wants to know more about Andrew Peterson and his endeavors, read this to realize he's just as human as the rest of us. If he can do cool, God-honoring things, so can you.

This reads as poetic prose: a stream of consciousness, heartfelt musings, and practical advice all rolled into one. Read it and be encouraged.
Profile Image for E.F.B..
405 reviews
August 28, 2021
2021 review:
When I read this last year, I did so on audio. That was a great way to read this because Peterson narrates the book himself and even sings the songs that he mentions. But I wanted a physical copy too, because there are so many quotes in here that encouraged and inspired me as a writer. I did finally get a copy this year and highlighted those gold nugget quotes as I did my reread. I can see myself revisiting this when I'm feeling down or discouraged (and possibly making quote graphics for social media, LOL). 1000% recommended reading for any creative person (which, according to Peterson, is everyone ;) ), but I do think that artists, whether you draw/paint actual pictures, write books, or write music, will especially feel seen by this book. You don't even have to know who Andrew Peterson is to get something from this. I only knew one of his songs when I first read it last year and still enjoyed it very much.

2020 review:
I didn't previously know much about Andrew Peterson. His songs have crossed my path here and there, ("Dancing in the Minefields" is a personal favorite) but not as much as some other Christian artists. I also completely failed to connect his Wingfeather Saga books (which I haven't read yet, but have been on my tbr for a while now) with him despite having seen them around GR and seeing them recommended by multiple friends. How I managed this oversight, I'm not sure, but when he mentioned having written other books, I looked at his author profile here on GR and literally went, "OOOOOOOH, the Wingfeather Saga books are by THIS Andrew Peterson. DUH."

Anyway... As a writer myself, I love a good book about the craft and about creativity as a whole and had heard many good things about this one. I couldn't get a physical copy just yet, but was so curious I ended up using my monthly Audible credit on the audio version, and I'm so, so, SO glad that I did. Peterson's love of Christ shines through every chapter. I enjoyed learning about him as a person, but also learning from his experience and wisdom. So much of this book had me nodding along realizing I'd found a kindred spirit. I especially appreciated how he addressed the desire to serve God in some way with your talents and that good art by Christians doesn't necessarily have to be Christian in theme to serve God's kingdom or reach people in a positive way. (But it also can be Christian in theme and both types of art have their place.) The things he said about agenda vs. message and putting quality and beauty of art over pushing an agenda was especially salient as I'm sure we've all read, watched, or listened to some form of art that had a blatant agenda and, whether we agreed with the agenda or not, we could acknowledge that the quality of the art went completely by the wayside.

I loved that he addressed failure, and when friends and family don't read/listen to/watch your work, and when it feel like the beauty you're trying to capture in story or song is always behind the veil, just beyond your reach. There were just so, so many gold nuggets like that in this book, I can't even list them all, but it was all so encouraging and inspiring to me.

His personal stories about life and family also had me smiling (and sometimes crying) as well as they helped me see that he knows about the things he's talking about because he's experienced them first hand and shares them unflinchingly, mistakes and all.

Something I loved on the technical side of things is that several times when he references one of his own songs, the audiobook version actually lets you hear that song so you more fully appreciate everything he's just said about the inspiration for it and how lyrics and music all came together. While I definitely want to get my hands on a physical copy of this book so I can more easily find and reread all those gold nugget passages, I can see myself re-listening to the audiobook as well for those special additional touches.

In conclusion, this is one of the best and most relatable books about creativity and serving God through art that I've ever read and I know that I will return to it again and again when I need encouragement on the path of God's calling for my life. I wholeheartedly recommend it. Just go and read it now, please.
Profile Image for Neil R. Coulter.
1,055 reviews100 followers
January 22, 2020
The main points of Adorning the Dark have been said before. If you’d enjoy hearing Andrew Peterson say them again, then you’ll probably enjoy the book. If you don’t know much about Peterson or about contemporary Christian music, this book isn’t for you. Much of the content is personal stories and name-dropping of people I’ve never heard of, so this book wasn’t for me. Peterson also pretty regularly drops the names Paul Simon and James Taylor; I’ve heard of them. I’ve also heard of Rich Mullins, who is named on just about every page of the book. (Seriously, I can’t believe how many times a person can mention Rich Mullins in one short book that isn’t a biography of Rich Mullins!) (And you see: now he’s making me do it, too!)

If you are a fan of Peterson, and if you haven’t read many books on Christian faith and the artistic process, then you’ll likely appreciate this book. My comments sound negative, but I actually don’t have any problems with the book—it’s just very “inner-circle” kind of stuff overall, and nothing new for me. A book on a related topic that I like much more is Makoto Fujimura’s Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life. That book is a lot more broadly applicable to a wider audience.

My favorite passage from Adorning the Dark (I shared this with my writing students):
I'll probably always be self-conscious, so the battle to make something out of nothing at all will rage on, and I'll have to fight it in the familiar territory of selfishness until the Spirit winnows my work into something loving and lovable. I'm no longer surprised by my capacity for self-doubt, but I've learned that the only way to victory is to lose myself, to surrender to sacredness—which is safer than insecurity. I have to accept the fact that I'm beloved by God. That's it. Compared to that, the songs don't matter so much—a realization which has the surprising consequence of making them easier to write. (22)
Profile Image for Ryan Elizabeth.
149 reviews
November 18, 2021
Re-read #3: Just as much, if not more, depth as the first time I read!


I cannot put into words how much I love this book.

Adorning the Dark is very likely my favorite non-fiction book of all time at this point of my life, and very likely one of the most life-changing things I've read. All Christian creators (and I mean ALL, no matter what you create) should read this at least once (though I'd certainly say a few re-reads is worth your time). I highly recommend this.
Profile Image for Laura.
720 reviews78 followers
December 14, 2019
Andrew Peterson is generous enough to tell his story in Adorning the Dark. This book is mostly for fans of Andrew Peterson himself, who will enjoy his honesty about the songwriting process and the life he's built for himself outside of Nashville. He has some lovely insights about creating art in community and I enjoyed this read, I just don't think there is much in here that was new for me (after reading quite a bit in this particular lane already). If this is your first entry point into the conversation about creativity and community and faith, it may very well be filled with a-ha! moments for you; I found it a comforting reaffirmation.

I really appreciated his acknowledgement of all the ways community supports art (and art creates community) and would have loved to see a whole book on that topic alone, since that seems to be his specialty. I also appreciated his gentle but repeated admonition to submit yourself to the lifelong apprenticeship of whatever craft you want to learn. And his generous invitation to all people to consider themselves as creative and a part of the creative community. Artists need people who support their work and receive it as a gift, and that role makes you just as much a part of the community as anyone!
Profile Image for Kyle Rapinchuk.
108 reviews5 followers
February 21, 2023
I can’t recall the first time I heard the name Andrew Peterson. I’m pretty sure it was from my friends Rusty and Sara Osborne who were already huge fans of his music and fantasy books. It was some time later before I ever listened to one of his songs. I didn’t like it. (Sorry Andrew, if I ever get the honor of meeting you, please don’t hold that moment against me). It was a while before I listened to Andrew Peterson again, and it was an altogether different experience. His voice became more inviting, more sincere, more pleasant with every verse, with each new song. I found, moreover, that his lyrics were some of the most thoughtful, most poetic, and most beautiful words I had heard in my life. After a lengthy repeat cycle of his Resurrection Letters: Prologue, Resurrection Letters: Vol. 1, and Resurrection Letters: Vol. 2 this spring, I finally started moving on to some of his other music, and I’m hooked. I bought the Wingfeather Saga for my children and am preparing to read it soon. And last Friday I received his newest book, Adorning the Dark. I finished it on Saturday because I simply didn’t want to stop reading it.

Much like Peterson’s music, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. The subtitle, “Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making,” seemed an awfully big goal for a short book. Likewise, the Amazon summary had a significant emphasis on the writing process, which although fitting under the category of “the Mystery of Making,” nevertheless increased both my interest and my skepticism that someone could pull off so much in such a short span of pages. I was wrong. Again. Perhaps I should have expected this success from one who can pack so much truth, goodness, and beauty into a three-minute song. Moreover, when I began reading the book, I found that Peterson also tells a lot of personal stories as a way of elucidating his points. I found his transparent, sincere, and humble approach both helpful and inspiring.

My short review is that writers of all kinds (not just songwriters) and Christians with all kinds of gifts (not just writers) should read this book, as it brings valuable insight into the Christian life, the human condition, the value of community, and the beauty and power of words. My long review, well, I don’t really want to write that one. It couldn’t do this book justice anyway. So instead, here’s my “medium-length” review, and in the style of Peterson’s book, it’s more personal than it is academic (hence my intentional use of contractions, which I normally loathe).

Peterson’s book was the exact book I needed at the exact time in my life that I needed it. God often does these kinds of things. With my ever-growing reading list, I often really don’t know why I pick up a certain book and not another to read. Sometimes it’s perhaps coincidence, but I have no doubt that this time it was Providence. God knew I needed this book at this time. Of the many valuable insights in this book, a couple stand out as most notable, primarily because the margin of my book reads, “Wow! I needed to hear this!” and “I needed to hear this, too!”

First, Peterson writes: “Wrench your heart away from all the things you think you need for your supposed financial security, your social status. Set fire to your expectations, your rights, and even your dreams. When all that is gone, it will be clear that the only thing you ever really had was this wild and Holy Spirit that whirls about inside you, urging you to follow where his wind blows” (2-3). I find myself in a difficult stage of life, and my wife and I have been deeply, frequently, and fervently praying for the Lord’s guidance. My own fear is that He has answered time and again, but my own fear of financial security has deafened my ears to His voice. As I read Peterson’s word, tears filled my eyes as I asked God again to speak, and I’m starting to hear whispers.

Second, Peterson writes: “You can’t blame your equipment. You can’t blame your lack of time. You can’t blame your upbringing. Either you’re willing to steward the gift God gave you by stepping into the ring and fighting for it, or you spend your life in training, cashing in excuse after excuse until there’s no time left, no fight left, no song, no story” (125). Conviction isn’t a strong enough word for my feelings in this respect. My lack of time has been a constant excuse to hide the gifts God has given me under a basket and shove it under a bed. I won’t do it any longer. I’m ready to fight. I ready to get out of training and into the game. I ready for the story to get out of my head and onto the page. And I have Andrew Peterson to thank for that.

So thank you, Andrew. To the rest of my readers, go buy and read his book, then please share your thoughts in the comments section or on The Classical Thistle Facebook page (website I run where I first published this review). I would love to dialogue about his book.
Profile Image for Amelie.
172 reviews28 followers
August 31, 2022
Andrew Peterson has such a grounded, honest, humble way of writing, weaving metaphors and similes into breathtaking works of wordsmithery and phrasing abstract emotions and experiences perfectly. More than once I found myself thunderstruck at how I could think promptly, “Yes! That’s me! I feel that and want that and do that, too!”

Lyrical, down-to-earth, moving, and deeply encouraging, this book was a pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Josiah.
818 reviews172 followers
June 2, 2021
Rather compelling memoir/reflections on artistry with some memorable lines, thoughts, and images.

Rating: 4 Stars (Very Good).
Profile Image for EC Bowman.
83 reviews3 followers
April 20, 2020
Sometimes you read a book that you know, deep down, you absolutely needed. This was one of those books for me.
Profile Image for Kristianne.
118 reviews14 followers
October 29, 2021
Somehow, Andrew Peterson manages to capture the essence of what it means to be a creator and the otherworldly aspect of creating true and beautiful art, all in beautiful strokes of prose and delightfully winsome metaphors that stick with you long after you’ve put the book down.

Summary: Adorning the Dark is a mixture of essays and journal entries, part biography and part craft book. Andrew covers a wide range of aspects concerning creating, yet still manages to stay organized and on topic in each chapter, while sprinkling in an array of colorful descriptions and captivating, whimsical stories in a style only Andrew can tell.

The first few chapters cover the role Christ and the gospel should play in our creative process, such as how to include God in our process and how our art should reflect Him. Then Andrew dives into the art of creating itself, covering what it means to serve the work and your audience and how to balance the two. He answers the question what makes a quality piece of art and briefly discusses the importance of selectivity in what we consume.

Then he covers the necessity of discipline and discernment and how important they are to finishing art and creating it well. Finally, he highlights the importance of community for your writing and for you as a person. Community is vital to your growth.

Overall, this book is unique in its style and genre, but that’s what makes it so delightful. It certainly won’t leave you bored!

My Thoughts: Can I just say that I loved every single chapter? Some hit me more deeply than others, but every chapter had some kind of wisdom I needed to hear.

Andrew is a brilliant writer. His word pictures were vivid and beautiful. I could really see them in my mind’s eye, and there were a few times I would read a metaphor and go “Exactly! That’s precisely how I’ve always pictured it.” His prose is like flowing water. It’s so smooth, connected, and easy to read. This book is a must read, if just for the writing style!

Not only that, but Andrew has so much wisdom and humility to share. I loved how vulnerable and honest he was in giving us a glimpse into his life, family, successes, and even his mistakes and failures.

I could especially relate to chapter 2, where Andrew talked about the process of birthing an idea. He perfectly describes the pain, the frustration, and yet the satisfaction of coming up with an idea and executing it. I loved how he described the in-tangibleness of ideas, how they always seem to be just beyond our grasp–or as he put it, just beyond the veil. Sadly, we can never perfectly capture those ideas in our broken world, but even in our weak, imperfect efforts, we can get close to it. We can at least give our readers a glimpse behind that veil.

I could relate to Andrew’s fear and self-doubt, of not feeling worthy enough to be a creator. But I was so blessed by his encouragement to write even when it’s messy and imperfect. We can’t wait until everything is perfect for us because it never will be. Just create. This is how we bring beauty out of our broken world. This part of the book reminded me a lot of The Story of With by Allen Arnold.

I loved his thoughts on good books, especially on how fairytales lift our eyes to something bigger than us, allowing us to peek past the veil and glimpse eternity on the other side. They allow us to sneak past watchful dragons, as Lewis put it. It was such a beautiful reminder of why I write fantasy!

I also appreciated his thoughts on the balance between striving to create good art but also allowing yourself the freedom to fail and to grow. You don’t have to get it right the first time. It’s ok to make mistakes. But always be willing to learn. Be humble and teachable.

Most of all, I loved his thoughts on God and art. God doesn’t need us to create. But he wants us to create beautiful things. He chose us to do this wonderful work. What an amazing mission we have as believers!

And finally, his thoughts on community and how it relates to writing was exactly what I needed. Too often, I tend to think creating is all about working on my own and forget to involve others in the process too. And his advice to go out there and create a community instead of bemoaning the fact that you don’t have one was really convicting. I loved the idea of finding a resonator, someone who gets my vision and encourages me to keep going when I get discouraged.

If you are a creator of any kind, this is a book is a must read. You’ll come away refreshed, inspired, and emboldened to better live out your calling as a creator for Christ’s sake, and you’ll be left with a deeper appreciation for the power of art and the impact we can have on this world.
Profile Image for Tracey Dyck.
Author 3 books76 followers
January 2, 2021
Hands down one of the BEST books I've read on the intersection of faith and creativity—and one of the best books, period, that I've read all year. Equal parts casual conversation, life memoir, and inspiration, each chapter takes a thoughtful look at the life of a Christian creative.

The frustration and joy of trying to capture eternity within art.

The invitation to make art with God.

How to serve the audience and serve the work.

The way community nourishes art and vice versa.

What touched me especially was the beating, brilliant heartbeat within story and song—and how crucial it is that this God-breathed art lights up the darkness. Even if it's just in one person's life. (The chapter on discipline hit me hard and made me cry.)

This book was exactly what my weary heart needed, and I have no doubt that I'll read it again in the future! I highly recommend it for any believer who writes, sings, or creates in any form.

I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes:

Somewhere out there, men and women with redeemed, integrated imaginations are sitting down to spin a tale that awakens, a tale that leaves the reader with a painful longing that points them home, a tale whose fictional beauty begets beauty in the present world and heralds the world to come.


Those of us who write, who sing, who paint, must remember that to a child a song may glow like a nightlight in a scary bedroom. It may be the only thing holding back the monsters. That story may be the only beautiful, true thing that makes it through all the ugliness of a little girl's world to rest in her secret heart. May we take that seriously. It is our job, it is our ministry, it is the sword we swing in the Kingdom, to remind children that the good guys win, that the stories are true, and that a fool's hope may be the best kind.
Profile Image for Coralie.
527 reviews84 followers
October 19, 2021
Okay, so this was stunning. Absolutely stunning. Just wow.

Three months ago, I'd never consumed any of Peterson's work. And now I've read all four Wingfeather books, listened to half of his albums, and pre-ordered his next book. Adorning the Dark was like someone took a peek inside my soul and exposed my fears and hopes and dreams. It's a simply stunning work of art overflowing with beautiful truths and soul-stirring peace.

I will cherish this book and keep it on my shelves to go back to again and again. I honestly haven't much to say other than thank you, Andrew Peterson, for sharing this with the world.

Peterson simply oozes his faith. He's woven the lessons he's learned and tugged illustrations from stories throughout his life. The presentation in this book is gorgeous and very effective. I love how down-to-earth and real he is. He isn't afraid of being vulnerable and in doing so, I really connected with him on a number of levels. He weaves scripture seamlessly into his work, which shows me that he lives this, breathes it. It's who he is. And he very effectively stirs the longing and homesickness for what has yet to come.

I feel like there's so much I want to say about this book that would simply fall short XD Just go read it, honestly. It's beautiful, truthful, and honest. It's what I strive to be and do. And I am so nourished and encouraged by it. May you be too.

The book is packed full of humor, life lessons, writing lessons, practical tips, stunning imagery, and just heart, so much heart. I cannot more highly recommend this to anyone looking to grow in their faith or artistry. And I am so very looking forward to his next book.
Profile Image for K.J. Ramsey.
Author 3 books602 followers
January 28, 2020
If you need to remember that deep within you there is a spark of light, if you need to see past your pernicious pride and underneath your hurried effort to be heard, remember alongside Andrew Peterson. I’m a few short months out from publishing my first book, and some days have been heavy with failure, a stumbling sense that all my wisdom has been spilled on the floor where I’m somehow learning to walk again. Writing and publishing will do that—make you face your inadequacy and selfishness. And in the dark, we can forget the faint, steady light within us that made us lift the pen in the first place. Slow down with Andrew. Remember, remember, in all your wandering to speak of wonders beyond your weariness, Light has come, in you.

My only slight negative on this book was that some of the writing felt disjointed and rambling. But even the rambling was honestly soothing to me as a writer, reminding me that my humanness is welcome in my work.

For the record, I wept at the end of this book. If you need release, remembrance, and renewal in your calling and craft as a writer or artist, I think you might weep with wonder too.
Profile Image for Wendi.
188 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2021
As much memoir as essays on art and community. It felt scattered in places, but the booklist is worth it, and the last chapter had me in tears. A nice collection of ideas on how and why to perce the darkness through creativity.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Moore.
147 reviews30 followers
March 17, 2023
I think I’ve just encountered my soul’s long lost big brother, and I want to live my life like Andrew Peterson & friends. This book helped direct me back to the pathway toward home. To live with imagination, glory, wonder, discipline, tenacity, and a clear view of your calling—this is a full life.
Profile Image for R.M. Archer.
Author 4 books132 followers
September 17, 2021
The first time I read this book I knew that it was beautiful, but it was like watching scenery fly by through the window of a moving car. I read it in one sitting, I didn't look into the books or songs or poems mentioned throughout, I simply observed its beauty from the outside.

This read-through was more like taking a walk through a vibrant garden, taking time to appreciate each flower and wonder at the precise combination of elements that led to its flourishing. I paid attention to each chapter. I listened to the songs. I read the poems. I made note of the books. Because this isn't just a book about Peterson and his art (though it is that, and it's lovely); it's a book about Christ in art. And as such, it gives credit to so many other artists who have also been moved by Christ and who reflect Him in their work. Rich Mullins, Tolkien, Lewis, N.D. Wilson, and so many others that I don't know yet.

This book is a reminder that God creates beauty, and that He equips us to reflect that beauty through sub-creation. It's a reminder that we who strive for that aren't alone. It's a reminder that God has a purpose for our work, and He has created others who share that purpose so that we might find community and spur one another on. It's a reminder of how God's beauty and love and guidance weaves through every part of our lives.

There's a sense of wonder and awe in this book, a feeling of reading about a kindred spirit, and a yearning that is sparked for a greater Kingdom, that I just can't fully describe. All I can say is: if you're a Christian artist, you ought to read this book.
Profile Image for Megan Miller.
315 reviews
March 13, 2020
I love words. I love words that encourage and uplift and point to God.
We are here for Him. We create because He created us.
Now get to work.
Profile Image for Samantha B.
310 reviews19 followers
April 10, 2021
This was absolutely gorgeous.

It's about Andrew Peterson's thoughts on being a Christian creator, but it's equally about his journey as a Christian songwriter. And I loved every second of it. Practicality was perfectly balanced with biography, and just wow.

For people who love OTEOTDSOD, the story part is more about his journey as a songwriter--his books only are mentioned a few times--but the lessons and sheer beauty of his musings about creating is absolutely applicable to probably every single creative discipline.

(I want to write songs now. But I'm pretty sure I'd be bad at it.)

(Also, he's a beekeeper! And I totally melted at the 30-year garden plan. Based on how excited I was about those two things, I think I chose the right major(s).)

Four stars! But it could go up on a reread.
Profile Image for J. Aleksandr Wootton.
Author 5 books130 followers
November 3, 2020
I've been a fan of Peterson's work since his first single hit the radio in 2000 (or 99?). I bought his album right away, and it was clear to me in those first songs that he was trying to do something different, that he was about something different, than what was being increasingly promoted on the radio even then. (Twelve years ago I accidentally disconnected the radio antenna in my car when I upgraded the dashboard media player, and I still haven't regretted it).

Then I lost track of Peterson for several years, only to hear about him again from a new group of friends in Texas. News to me: He had always been a big fan of the Inklings. He'd published a series of middle-grade fantasy novels with amazing titles like North! or Be Eaten. He'd founded something called The Rabbit Room. And he'd been steadily making new music (I highly recommend his "Light for the Lost Boy" album).

So then, a couple years after this reacclimation, I'd been invited to tag along to McCabe's Pub with some of the presenters after a small Inklings conference in Nashville, where a mutual friend had made arrangements for Michael Ward to meet... Andrew Peterson. So there I am on a slick wooden chair in a vest and tie with a deliciously greasy burger and a pint, sitting next to a man I recognized from a 16-year-old CD cover photo (baseball hat notwithstanding) the minute he walked in, trying remain honest whilst making a reasonably good impression whilst two giants of the contemporary Inklings tradition, one academic, one creative, carried on a conversation, literally, over my head.

I've met Andrew several times in the years since, at conferences or concerts (he once hailed me from a dark car on a dark street in Cambridge at midnight - but that's a tale for another time), which made Adorning the Dark a really wonderful read: you can hear his voice on every page. Adorning the Dark is reflections on making in the tradition of Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet and Dorothy Sayers' The Mind of the Maker - indispensable books on writing for anyone seeking to gracefully infuse their theology into their creativity - and ought to be read alongside Diana Glyer's Bandersnatch. It's the right blend of honest, encouraging, and practical, a balance which how-to memoirs rarely strike. It demarcates the boundaries where humility and reverence for excellence can overbleed into awkward self-deprecation or debilitating self-doubt, or again, in the other direction, into burdensome pride or scornful criticism. It is about the psychology of art-making as much as anything, and the corresponding human need to create in community, which protects artists from lingering unhealthfully inside their own heads.

A pleasure to read, and a firm and gentle prodding toward connection with other makers.
Profile Image for Jordan Carlson.
204 reviews20 followers
September 29, 2021
Read in March 2020 and RE-read (Audible version) in August/Sept 2021. Worthwhile both times.

Really, really good. I am not exactly blown away by the novelty of his thoughts or a magnificent eloquence, but several times throughout this reading I was encouraged to faithfulness in my life, I stopped to look up artists and songs, and I started writing again...so I think he really hit his mark on this. A good, common-sensical approach to creativity and life. The conversational tone and honesty were really enjoyable.
Profile Image for Lexi Dacy.
48 reviews35 followers
November 1, 2022
Reading this book was like unlocking a little door to my soul I was always sure was there but also POSITIVE no one else could see it. Wait… what? I’m not alone? Someone else out there has tapped into this realm I thought was hidden. Someone else gets it. They’ve seen the darkness - the ugly, the unfair, the wrong, and the cruel of life. But they’ve also seen the light - and are called to a life of creativity as I am to obediently share the truth in love, as boldly and as diligently as possible. This book spoke to my soul, gave me practical advice as a creative who happens to be a Christian and as a Christian creative - and then also blew open that box in the best way. It pushed me to push past MYSELF in the creative process and remember that every ability I have is a reflection of my Creator who gave me my desire to write, sing and dance for more than myself. And who loves me enough to be patient with me. I’m so so so thankful for this book. I’m thankful for all Peterson taught me, reminded me, and the community he encouraged me to step into wherever I’m planted. Dear Reader, Writer, Artist, Dancer, Chef, Stay-at-Home mom, baseball dad, Florist, Bookstore owner, Dreamer… etc. You’re not alone. You’re a child of God and you’ve got stories to tell. So tell them and share them with the world. If you’re thinking about buying this book - DO IT. I can’t recommend it enough.
Profile Image for E.C..
Author 1 book72 followers
November 17, 2021

This book took me forever to finish, but I’m so so glad I started. Between the stories from Peterson's own life and his thoughts on creation and identity, reading this book made me feel so understood. . There were multiple times I stopped and thought to myself, I thought I was the only person who thought like that. I'm glad I wasn’t. And I’m glad that Peterson was able to capsulize so many thoughts I think so many of us have in the beautiful, written word.

I do have to admit that it took me a bit to get into this book and get used to the musing style of it—and it’s definitely not everyone’s thing—but for me, I love how casual and less polished it is. while it was a bit tricky to follow the points of the musings at times, there are some genuinely impactful and thought-provoking ideas in this book, so much so that I closed it inspired and encouraged. With its beautiful prose, ADORNING THE DARK provoked wonder at the world around me and God’s amazingness.

While this book certainly isn’t for everyone, I believe everyone can read it and come away with something, no matter how small.

If you’re a discouraged creative, a writer, or songwriter, read this book. It may just light a spark within you to keep going. To keep writing for the Kingdom. To continue completing the work God has placed on your heart.

There’s only one word that could describe that: amazing.
Profile Image for Lorelei Angelino.
90 reviews4 followers
March 18, 2022
OH MY WORD. Guys, Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making is incredible. I did a book study on it with a writing group and . . . it is just a gorgeous book.

While it's steered more towards songwriters and novelists and poets, it also explains that all people are made in God's image, and all people are creative. So this book is for everyone.

And please please please read it. I got so much out of it, and I promise you will. Andrew Peterson writes beautifully, honestly, and truthfully—and he'll show you how to, as well.

And because his writing is so pretty and God-glorifying, (and because mine isn't anywhere near as amazing) I'll leave you with a quote from the book:

Let the Word by which the Creator made you fill your imagination, guide your pen, lead you from note to note until a melody is strung together like a glimmering constellation in the clear sky.
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