John's Reviews > The Pastor: A Memoir

The Pastor by Eugene H. Peterson
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's review
May 22, 2011

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This is a fine, beautifully written memoir by Eugene Peterson, best known for his "The Message" translations of the Bible. But it gets a little boring. Peterson has lived a meaningful, impactful life, but not one that necessarily makes for interesting reading. It is more interesting reading about his life BEFORE he settled in as a pastor than about his life AFTER.
Actually, his childhood in Montana is the most interesting part. Here's an excerpt from when he was in first grade. He was being bullied by an older boy, and he hadn't been fighting back because of the biblical admonition to bless those who persecute you.
Until ...
That's when it happened. Totally uncalculated. Totally out of character. Something snapped within me. For just a moment the Bible verses disappeared from my consciousness and I grabbed Garrison. To my surprise, and his, I realized that I was stronger than he was. I wrestled him to the ground, sat on his chest, and pinned his arms to the ground with my knees. I couldn't believe it -- he was helpless under me. At my mercy. It was too good to be true. I hit him in the face with my fists. It felt good, and I hit him again -- blood spurted from his nose, a lovely crimson on the snow. By this time all the other children were cheering, egging me on. "Black his eyes!" "Bust his teeth!" A torrent of biblical invective poured from them, although nothing compared with what I would, later in life, read in the Psalms.
I said to Garrison, "Say 'Uncle.'" He wouldn't say it. I hit him again. More blood. More cheering. Now my audience was bringing the best out of me. And then my Christian training reasserted itself. I said, "Say, 'I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.'" He wouldn't say it. I hit him again. More blood. I tried again. "Say, 'I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.'"
And he said it. Garrison Johns was my first Christian convert.

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