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Finished my first Eugene Peterson book this weekend, and my first serious / non-fictiony book of the year. The phrase “a long obedience in the same direction” has stuck with me since I heard it a couple years ago at a writer’s conference. It’s a powerful way to look at life, creativity, and, in this book, discipleship.

Most interesting to me is that even though I was reading a 20th anniversary edition of this book, his thoughts on living a Christian life in an age of distraction and instant gratification are just as relevant today, perhaps even more than when it was written. He calls for slow, thoughtful reading, learning, and growing. This book is smallish, exploring the Psalms of Ascent and what they have to say about joy, community, hardship, and the steady progression of life in light of eternity.

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Each chapter opens with a psalm from Peterson’s own Bible translation The Message, a translation that well captures the earthy spirit of these travel songs. The chapters are short enough to either work through in large chunks to observe the common thread through this set of psalms or to read slowly, daily. He writes in a friendly, gentle style that reveals profound insight without feeling too heady, kind of reminding me of Buechner in some ways.

This strikes me as a good introduction to an author I’ve been wanting to read for a long time… well worth picking up for those interested more in the long quiet work of discipleship than quick spiritual highs. Next time, I’m taking notes.

Next up: James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom, and finishing up The Auralia Thread for the fantasy fiction read.

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