A Holy Hobbit

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October 5, 2012

This week I helped an 80-year-old saint watch the U.S. Presidential debate live on his computer. He would tell you there is no hierarchy among followers of Jesus, but for me, Dr. Eugene Peterson walks with at least one halo on at all times. For the past twenty years, I have read his books deeply, he is an author who connects my world with God’s ideas. I was thrilled to connect him to the political exchange he is keenly following. “Politics does not determine the soil in which we grow as Christians,” Dr. Peterson told me, twice.  

This Johns Hopkins scholar in Semitic language, author of over 30 books, professor, poet, husband and grandfather, likes to be called Eugene.  I have interviewed him once five years ago on why and how the Bible is a story, not something to be forced into a doctrine. This week I interviewed him again at his home, on his views about how to care for the world we live in (the 'Environment' episode airs Oct 21 on Global and Vision). It was time he easily gave to the Context TV audience, he’s enthusiastic about our broadcasting, a nice thing for our hard-working team of 12 to know.  


The Star Fellowship team and Dr. Eugene Peterson (third from left, by Lorna)


Our team’s excellence and sacrificial skill, allowed me to dwell these past five days in Montana, staying with a group of friends, the Star Fellowship, that I have been doing Christian life with for the past ten years.  Dr. Lon Allison of Wheaton Seminary’s Billy Graham Center, founded and leads the group.  It’s a gathering of people working in evangelism that keeps me honest, grounded, and cared for. Eugene suggested we stay nearby his home at Glacier Presbyterian Camp and he spent the mornings teaching us. Eugene thinks “spiritual direction” pursuits are elitist, even though what we did this week with him could be clearly classified as such, he gently chided us to just be normal and relational about following Jesus. He loves the church, and believes in making it our place to learn about God and community; as messy and inadequate and inconvenient as it may seem at times, he is convinced that is where life should grow.


Near Flathead Lake, Montana. Dr. Eugene Peterson at window, speaking. 

“The primary place for spiritual formation is the congregation. I never send people on retreat,” he said, with a smile, and a twinkle. Eugene lives quietly at the edge of Flathead Lake, near Lakeside, Montana. As close to hobbit land as you can get.  

 

 


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