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The Wisdom of Each Other

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  22 reviews
An illuminating example of friendship as a vital way God answers our need for guidance, encouragement, affirmation, and correction.Most of the time, what we need to help us through the struggles in our lives is not the advice of an expert but the wisdom of a friend. Through this series of eloquent letters written to a life-long friend, author Eugene Peterson demonstrates f ...more
Paperback, 110 pages
Published November 11th 2001 by Zondervan (first published December 23rd 1997)
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Jason Kanz
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
The Wisdom of Each Other: A Conversation Between Spiritual Friends (1998) by Eugene Peterson is a unique, though beneficial, book. It is unique because it contains a series of letters addressed to Gunnar Thorkildsson, whom Peterson described as "not an actual person with an existence documented by birth certificate and social security number", though Peterson insists that the details were grounded in actual encounters he had over the years.

In each of the several dozen letters Peterson penned, he
...more
Joel
Apr 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
This little book is a great introduction to Eugene Peterson. The book is basically Peterson writing letters to a recently converted friend (Gunnar). It is scarcely over 100 pages but filled with Peterson's insight and perspective on the Christian life. Find an inexpensive copy and read it in one sitting.
Byron Fike
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A delightful little book of short letters Pastor Peterson wrote to his fictitious (and yet totally real) friend Gunnar. Gunnar has come back to the Lord and to church after a 40 years absence and Peterson coaches him through the process. I love the bits of wisdom scattered through the letters and could make instant application to my own journey of faith and struggle with the church. This was the perfect book to read in the morning as I was beginning my day. Read a letter or two and then be on my ...more
Madison
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I laughed aloud many times as I read through these letters on a day off in my beloved university library. My favorite entry comes when Peterson rants about pastors who condescendingly push their own ministry onto 'laypeople,' creating a sickly spiritual-secular divide that disrespects the vocations of others. As someone discerning 'pastor' as part of my vocation, this is what gets my heart beating a little quicker. All the earth is holy ground.
Sam Luce
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Eugene Peterson this short pithy book was no different than all his other work. Pastoral, church loving and God exalting. It did make regret I read him so late in his life and that I never wrote him a letter while he was alive.
Laura
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A solid and practical book of pastoral wisdom through the powerful and unique medium of personal letters. Eugene Peterson isn’t hesitant to comment upon or criticize common practices within church culture and Christian living. The book is a refreshing voice of truth and was a delightful quick read.
Missyjohnson1
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this "down-to-earth" practical epistolary book. used it as a discussion opportunity with friends and it worked nicely. Looking forward to using again with other group opportunities.
Sarah Flannery
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Style of Screwtape Letters, except a faithful mentor writing to a new believer. As a pastor, loved his approach to finding and appreciating a church.
Glen Grunau
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a special treat to sit down with Eugene Peterson and listen in on his letters written to a friend. I appreciated the value he places on letter writing, as an almost lost art but as offering a unique opportunity for spiritual friends to speak into one another's lives. I was reminded of my gratitude for the the occasional opportunities I have to correspond through letter with family and friends.

I appreciated Eugene's advice to his friend who had just returned to the church from a long absen
...more
Tim
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
August 2013 - Just reread this on a Sunday afternoon. So good and helpful, I think I will make this a regular habit.

Just read this book far too quickly (could not slow myself down), will sit down and read it again, because it is both simple and incredibly wise. In the guise of letters to an old friend returned to the faith he abandoned as a young man, Peterson models spiritual conversation and bestows the deepest sort of understanding of Christian living in our modern world and the modern Ameri
...more
Adam Shields
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Short review: I intentionally read this with CS Lewis' Letters to Malcolm because I thought they would complement one another. But I was wrong. Letters to Malcolm showed a personal, intimate side of Lewis and was great at giving us Lewis developing thoughts and working out ideas. Peterson is writing composite letters to a composite character. These were flat and a but curmudgeonly. There are nuggets of good stuff here, but all of it is better in fuller treatments in his other books. I am a fan o ...more
Eric
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
A delightful little book by Eugene Peterson (of "The Message" fame), The Wisdom of Each Other is set up as a series of letters to Gunner - a longtime friend, but who has recently sought to reconnect with Peterson and the spiritual life of the church. One needs to discern what Peterson's letters are in response to; but he does a nice job of helping the reader find out. Some of the observations connected with me, some did not. A couple were actually quite profound and insightful IMHO. Easily a boo ...more
Curtis Lillie
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read this book with my wife a few letters at a time. Through his books, Peterson has been an important guide for me in life, in faith, and in exploring my pastoral vocation. This book succinctly summed up in an entirely different format, much of the guidance I have gleaned from Peterson over the years. While I enjoyed getting to "know" the single recipient of the letters through the letters from "Eugene," I think I was expecting more voices or at least the other side of the dialogue.

This was my
...more
Kate Robertson
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is best enjoyed by slowly sipping and savoring each page. He uses a C.S. Lewis format with letters to a friend. As usual, Eugene Peterson cuts through the typical spiritual mumbo jumbo to the heart: a relationship with Christ. He is the epitome of a pastor theologian with hints of academia he brings Jesus into everyday life, and he teaches us how to share our Christ-centered lives with friends and family. This will not be the last time I read this gem.
Dwight Davis
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great little text. Peterson fashions this book out of composite letters written to a composite character. The letters in the book, he says, are nearly identical to many he has written to real people with real problems. The pastoral nature of this book shines through.

It took me about an hour and a half to read this. Easy, light and refreshing.
Katrina
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"I encounter such constant and widespread lying about reality each day and meet with such skilled and systematic distortion of the truth that I'm always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is..."

Well, you'll just have to read it. P. 110

:)
Lisa
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith
I'm generally not a fan of 1-sided epistlary texts. I hate only hearing one side of the conversation. But this was thought provoking. It reminded me of the value of friends and the power of their voices speaking into my life. I will probably read it again in a couple years.
Demetrius Rogers
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Amazing little primer into the thought and spirituality of Eugene Peterson.
Pat Loughery
Mar 24, 2010 marked it as to-read
THE WISDOM OF EACH OTHER CONVERSATION BETWEEN SPIRITUAL FRIENDS by Eugene H. Peterson (1998)
Ryan
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I could not get enough of this book. I underlined way more than is prudent; I won't be able to loan the book now. I recommend it, for sure.
R.d. Frazier
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspiration
Great little book. This book inspired the correspondence between Andy and Walt in my novel, Dear Walt.
David Holt
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As long as you accept that, in the one-sided correspondence format, the author has to spend a paragraph telling you stiltedly what the other person wrote about, it's a wonderful set of reflections.
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Nov 19, 2012
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Eugene H. Peterson was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He had written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language ...more

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The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
52 likes · 28 comments
“You seem disappointed that I am not more responsive to your interest in "spiritual direction". Actually, I am more than a little ambivalent about the term, particularly in the ways it is being used so loosely without any sense of knowledge of the church's traditions in these matters.

If by spiritual direction you mean entering into a friendship with another person in which an awareness and responsiveness to God's Spirit in the everydayness of your life is cultivated, fine. Then why call in an awkward term like "spiritual direction"? Why not just "friend"?

Spiritual direction strikes me as pretentious in these circumstances, as if there were some expertise that can be acquired more or less on its own and then dispensed on demand.

The other reason for my lack of enthusiasm is my well-founded fear of professionalism in any and all matters of the Christian life. Or maybe the right label for my fear is "functionalism". The moment an aspect of Christian living (human life, for that matter) is defined as a role, it is distorted, debased - and eventually destroyed. We are brothers and sisters with one another, friends and lovers, saints and sinners.

The irony here is that the rise of interest in spiritual direction almost certainly comes from the proliferation of role-defined activism in our culture. We are sick and tired of being slotted into a function and then manipulated with Scripture and prayer to do what someone has decided (often with the help of some psychological testing) that we should be doing to bring glory to some religious enterprise or other. And so when people begin to show up who are interested in us just as we are - our souls - we are ready to be paid attention to in this prayerful, listening, non-manipulative, nonfunctional way. Spiritual direction.

But then it begins to develop a culture and language and hierarchy all its own. It becomes first a special interest, and then a specialization. That is what seems to be happening in the circles you are frequenting. I seriously doubt that it is a healthy (holy) line to be pursuing.

Instead, why don't you look over the congregation on Sundays and pick someone who appears to be mature and congenial. Ask her or him if you can meet together every month or so - you feel the need to talk about your life in the company of someone who believes that Jesus is present and active in everything you are doing. Reassure the person that he or she doesn't have to say anything "wise". You only want them to be there for you to listen and be prayerful in the listening. After three or four such meetings, write to me what has transpired, and we'll discuss it further.

I've had a number of men and women who have served me in this way over the years - none carried the title "spiritual director", although that is what they have been. Some had never heard of such a term. When I moved to Canada a few years ago and had to leave a long-term relationship of this sort, I looked around for someone whom I could be with in this way. I picked a man whom I knew to be a person of integrity and prayer, with seasoned Christian wisdom in his bones. I anticipated that he would disqualify himself. So I pre-composed my rebuttal: "All I want you to do is two things: show up and shut up. Can you do that? Meet with me every six weeks or so, and just be there - an honest, prayerful presence with no responsibility to be anything other than what you have become in your obedient lifetime." And it worked. If that is what you mean by "spiritual director," okay. But I still prefer "friend".

You can see now from my comments that my gut feeling is that the most mature and reliable Christian guidance and understanding comes out of the most immediate and local of settings. The ordinary way. We have to break this cultural habit of sending out for an expert every time we feel we need some assistance. Wisdom is not a matter of expertise.

The peace of the Lord,
Eugene”
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“...I digressed and forgot to direct you to a proper theologian. Why not start at the top? Start with John Calvin. Among Christians of our ilk, he continues to hold the center for biblical soundness and intellectual clarity. Buy The Institutes of the Christian Religion...If you're troubled by dust balls of opinion on Calvin that you have picked up through hearsay through the years, do your best to sweep them out with the trash---come to him fresh with a clear imagination. You'll be surprised at how accessible he is, how sane, how Christian. A truly elegant intellect...you can be expected to be directed wisely and prayerfully to God---thinking about God accurately, responding to God truly. Calvin brought a biblically disciplined mind and a Spirt-attuned heart to his writing. And he was a pastor, first and foremost a pastor with a congregation whom he taught and prayed for, visited, baptized, and married and buried, whose problems he dealt with and whose faith he guided.” 0 likes
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