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Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson, Eerdmans, $18.95
Reviewed by David Hansen, pastor, Belgrade Community Church, Belgrade, Montana.
Trying to speed-read this book reminds me of a two-hundred mile drive I once took to a retreat center. There I would spend a few days walking, praying, resting, meditating. I was cruising down a wide-open Montana highway, pedal to the floor, pushing to arrive on time, when blazing-blue lights flashed in my rearview mirror.
I got a ticket for speeding to a retreat for quiet and contemplation.
After I cooled down from being ticketed, I realized I needed to slow down. Not so that I didn't get another ticket, but so that I wouldn't waste another second. By slowing down I began to notice where I actually was: the pines, the river, the big sky. I started to notice God. I started to pray. My retreat began on the way.
In Under the Unpredictable Plant, Eugene Peterson arrests speeding pastors, urging them to slow down to pray. This is not a book about how to deepen our prayer life, however, but about how to dive deep into prayer with our whole life.
"The task to which I have set myself, and in which I have found Jonah so much help, is to recover an awareness of the comprehensive and integrating reality of prayer-particularly for pastors," writes Peterson, a pastor for 29 years and now professor of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.
Under the Unpredictable Plant is a collection of stories from the author's life, wisdom from his ministry, and prophetic oracles about the state of pastoral ministry today. The chapters follow the story of Jonah: "Buying Passage to Tarshish," "Escaping the Storm," "In the Belly of the Fish," "Finding the Road to Nineveh," and "Quarreling with God under the Unpredictable Plant."
As he leads us through Jonah's story, we realize it is our story as well. By the end of the book, we feel quite in league with the reluctant prophet.
"Buying Passage to Tarshish," for example, is about our ...