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Eugene Peterson on Religious ADHD

18 February 2010

From his latest offering:

Americans in general have little tolerance for a centering way of life that is submissive to the conditions in which growth takes place:  quiet, obscure, patient, not subject to human control and management.  The American church is uneasy in these conditions.  Typically, in the name of “relevance,” it adapts itself to the prevailing American culture and is soon indistinguishable from that culture:  talkative, noisy, busy, controlling, image-conscious.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. ben permalink
    19 February 2010 8:59 am


    I agree with Peterson here. Seems to me that this is also a distinctively protestant issue stemming from an insistence on individualism, resistance to authority figures, and personal experience rooted in the incredible days surrounding the American Revolution.

    As a counter point, the Anglicans and Catholics have been surprising resistant to these forces. The reason, perhaps, for this is because they adhere to a liturgical calendar. Doing so shapes every assembly and digs its roots deep in the tradition preventing the kinds of whimsical changes to which church leaders in other traditions often fall prey.

    In the absence of such foundational structure, protestant churches are left on their own opening the door for the abuses Peterson describes and the results that have become so prevalent in many so-called “community” churches.

  2. 20 February 2010 7:08 am

    Quite so, Ben. I suppose liturgy is a sort of bulwark, whatever else it might be.

    I do remember back in the day – at A&M – hearing and participating in the discussions about why we tended to do the same things every Sunday. We joked about having an opening prayer, two hymns, a prayer, a hymn, Communion…a pattern that seemed inviolate and arbitrary. Of course, that does not constitute liturgy per se, but the reaction to it is what interest me the most here.


  3. 22 February 2010 11:26 am

    Well, qb, it’s liturgy but not very deep and enriching. Kinda like some of my vegan dishes.


  4. 22 February 2010 11:30 am

    Or–to put it another way–like the effect of some of my vegan dishes, I get gas and, then, tend to give it.


  5. 22 February 2010 5:51 pm

    Well, after such a long absence Coop reappears, bearing for all [three] of us his blessed gifts…of Too Much Information. Thanks for sharing, Coop, I didn’t want my supper tonite anyway.


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