Eugene Peterson had a publishing life before The Message. And one could argue that it was his previous publications that led, at least in part, to the renewal of Christian spirituality among pastors and laypeople today. In such books as Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Run with the Horses, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, and The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, Peterson exposed the shallowness of American Christianity and offered a bracing and invigorating alternative.

It is momentous, then, that Peterson has returned to writing about the Christian life with Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Eerdmans, 2005). It is the first of a projected five-volume series in which Peterson will systematically pull together themes he has been talking about for three decades—spiritual formation, Scripture, leadership, the church, pastoring, spiritual direction.

The first volume is a tour de force in spiritual theology, combining incisive cultural analysis and biblical exposition with a sweeping and engaging vision of the Christian life.

All of his writing has emerged out of his work as a pastor, mostly at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. He was the founding pastor of the church, which grew to some 500 members before he left after 29 years. He went from there to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and then to Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is now "retired," living in his home state of Montana, but he remains at heart a pastor who cares deeply about the Christian life as it is lived in the local church.

As Peterson was finishing the manuscript of Christ Plays ...

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