5.0 out of 5 stars I Echo My Friend's Review
I have a friend who is a professor at a school of religion. He helps to train our next generation of pastors. He once told me that "Working the Angles" was one of the best books on Pastoral Theology he had read and by far Peterson's best work. I don't think I would go as far as he did with my praise, but this certainly is a book worth owning. It will help...
Published on March 9 2004 by R. Kirkham
3.0 out of 5 stars well thought and written concepts!
Book Review – Working the angles. Eugene Peterson.
Pastors, Christian leaders and all the Disciples of Christ are not immune from the influences of pressures of the culture they live in. In “Working the Angles” Peterson presents a platform with some of the basic resources that need revisiting in the pastoral ministry. The author’s...
Published 7 months ago by Maki Mico
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3.0 out of 5 stars well thought and written concepts!,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)Book Review – Working the angles. Eugene Peterson.
Pastors, Christian leaders and all the Disciples of Christ are not immune from the influences of pressures of the culture they live in. In “Working the Angles” Peterson presents a platform with some of the basic resources that need revisiting in the pastoral ministry. The author’s intention is to provide the readers not with a remedy but rather the diagnosis which might shake off some dust of the institutionalised and professionalised American pastors in the late 80’.
His description of pastoral ministry uses a trigonometric metaphor of a triangle where he contrasts the noticeability of the lines versus the angles. The lines would be the obvious ones such as preaching, teaching and administration whereas the angles would be prayer, Scripture and spiritual direction.
By passionately dedicating three chapters to each of these three disciplines Peterson unfolds his biblical understanding and leaves it with the reader to come to terms with their meaning and significance for them individually. Pastoral work disconnected from the three angles cannot be given its shape by God. Working the angles is what gives shape and integrity to the daily work of pastors”.
With a distinct emphasis on Psalms, Peterson develops his argument on the first angle of pastoral integrity- prayer. He provides some good historical and theological basis and by adding his own approach in observing Sabbath he develops with a “free hand” (if there is such a thing) an exegesis of Psalm 92, where “praying and playing” belong together. Playing and praying (the Psalms) have vitalized and protected the author’s attentiveness to God therefore he will not compromise his allegiance to the biblical teaching on Sabbath.
The second angle of the ministry highlights one’s attitude towards the centrality of Scripture reading, in which metaphorically we are “Turning Eyes into Ears” . For Peterson, listening for the voice of the God who speaks after reading a passage should be the ultimate goal. He illustrates the opposite by his remarks on pastors that have turned their studies into ‘stills,’ illegal distilleries that extract ideas and morals from the teeming narrative of Scripture” . Rightly so, he addresses commercialization and consumerism dangerously impacting our approach to the Scriptures by what we want to “get” from reading them. Again, sharing his own experience of how sometimes he would be looking for passages to meet different needs of his ministry where instead should have been listening to the voice of God.
The third angle of the pastoral integrity is the discipline of spiritual direction. “It takes place when two people agree to give their full attention to what God is doing in one (or both) of their lives and seek to respond in faith” Peterson points out that as much as there are issues in the understanding of the terminology (he does not mind what you call it as long as you call it something), pastors consequently are involved in this task yet not prioritize it for its significance. As strange as the need for it may sound, is it helpful to see how in his own spiritual formation it has been an on -going process marked with calibration through a friend in the theological context. He dedicates the last chapter to five pastors that failed badly in their spiritual direction with George Fox because of their own insecurities and their understanding of this particular discipline. If only they would have known that one of the unconscious reasons why persons seek conversation with pastors is to keep company with God.
How these angles marked the life of Jesus, the Good Pastor is ambiguous. He always synchronised with His Father through prayer. Jesus was the Word of God and dwelt amongst us. In the raising of Lazarus, He expected God to act and reveal Himself inconceivably as Jesus directed individuals and crowds spiritually.
Even though he writes about Philip in the “Gaza notes” another helpful reflection would have been on how the other Disciples worked out these angles in their lives. There are several occasions in Acts and Epistles of how they prayed, how they listened and responded to Scripture and how they cultivated awareness of God’s action, purpose and design in their own lives and of the individuals they ministered to.
I would like to challenge the triangle and by suggesting a different geometrical figure with some more additional angles to the ones that Peterson has neatly established already. My first suggestion is the reliance on the Holy Spirit. If this is not an angle, it is not a line either because it is not the end result but rather the core role in any follower of Christ. He is the indwelling Spirit of power and of truth, He is the Helper, the Counsellor and any Christian discipline cannot happen without His input.
The second suggestion has to do with mission. One cannot dialogue with a missional God, cannot interact with Scripture that never turn unto God void, or cannot cultivate awareness of God’s active love and be the same again. Mission is at the very heart of a pastoral God.
My last suggestion has to do with the cost of discipleship which Jesus Himself challenges his followers with: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” . Peterson’s underlying theme constantly points to the pastoral integrity that to happen the self-denial and the cross and can be a daily pit stop for anyone following Christ including pastors and Christian leaders.
All in all it is a well thought and well written book which is a wakeup call for the pastoral vocation. The style which he presents his argument is very pastoral, easy to follow and quite logical which fits very well with his geometrical analogy. The use of appropriate illustrations is very helpful but his life examples speak louder than anything even though the Peterson has not sussed out how his addressing could translate in different church contexts other than the American one.
5.0 out of 5 stars I Echo My Friend's Review,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)I have a friend who is a professor at a school of religion. He helps to train our next generation of pastors. He once told me that "Working the Angles" was one of the best books on Pastoral Theology he had read and by far Peterson's best work. I don't think I would go as far as he did with my praise, but this certainly is a book worth owning. It will help you get back to the basics.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Not Great,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)This title is the second one I have read by Peterson. I frankly was disappointed with lack of applicable content. He does address pastors directly, but he seems to ramble when he could be making one point after another. Most pastors will find something in his words of value. I did. For the nuggets of truth this book does contain, I give it three stars. Still, Peterson seems to be capable of doing so much better.
There is no doubt that Peterson is a man of God who has a message for the people of this age. I just sensed that the "thus saith the Lord" was garbled somewhere between the prophet and the written proclamation. For the money, this title is a good, but not great, read for pastors and other church leaders.
3.0 out of 5 stars Pray, Read and Talk. Could be better,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)Eugene Peterson has been thinking about it for a long time and has some advice for pastors out there. Before he gives the advice, he has some words of criticism for them: they've been sucked into the world of "respected" professionals who let money or comfort dictate their career decisons (e.g. the ambulance-chasing lawyer, the salesman who tells you what you want to hear just so he gets the sale). He admonishes pastors who have a similar mentality and advises them to work on their prayer life (especially the Psalms), read the Bible with more fervor, and find a "spiritual counsleor"-- someone who can guide you towards a closer relationship with God.
Of course pastors need to read the Bible and pray! This is no new revelation! He did make me more interested in reading the Psalms, though. The section on "how to read" was not to my liking, either. The section on the importance of finding a spritiual mentor, however was quite interesting. Americans seem to have a fascination with Teddy Roosevelt-style "Rugged Individualism." This apparently carries over to the pastor who now thinks he has to be a strong leader of the church instead of realizing that Christ himself acted like a servent for us. He even humbled himself to wash his disciples feet and act as our "whipping boy"--taking a punishment that was rightfully ours as he died on the cross.
While I whole-heartedly say that Peterson's last section was the best, there are some good points to his first two sections. I already mentioned a new respect for the Psalms; in fact, the word "respect" is the key theme for most of Peterson's book. Respect the fact that, when you pray, you are talking to your Creator and Redeemer! Don't take that lightly! When you read the Bible, realize that it's your Creator and Redeemer talking with you! Don't read it lightly! That pretty much sums up Peterson's book.
Read the introduction to this at your library or bookstore. If you're really into the book after that, go ahead and buy it. Be warned, however, this is Peterson's best writing in "Working the Angles" and the prose kind of goes downhill from there.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of the Matter,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)The power, longevity and effectiveness of a church lies in large part on the leadership of its pastor(s). It shouldn't be about his or her administrative skills or ability to jump at every whim a member of the congregation brings forward. It should be about the spiritual life and leadership of the pastor. This isn't about perfection. It's about relationship with God. As a lay person who is active in the local church and works in a ministry to pastors, my heart delights in a pastor who puts God first and everything else in its proper place. You see, when the pastor's hunger for God is alive and well and being fed I can see it, and I have a role model to follow. When the pastor's life demonstrates the results of intimacy with Christ, I am motivated and encouraged.
As a lay person, I was brought up short because for too long I have measured my pastors by the to do list he accomplishes and the teaching she does. I have not always allowed them the space to do the most important things - being the guardian and teacher of the word and sacrament, abiding in Christ through prayer, and being the spiritual director I need rather than the quick answer to a problem I bring forward. I stand corrected.
My hope is that this book crosses the desk of every pastor in America, to renew his or her call to ministry, to give permission and encouragement in keeping the promises of ordination and installation. It will radically change the pastorate and the Church it ministers to.
Well done, Pastor Peterson. Thank you for your honesty, your leadership, and your willingness to be real and tell it like it is.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the Nail on the Head for Pastors of Integrity,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)This is a marvelous writer who has walked the talk of a pastor of integrity. I remember reading his "Five Smooth Stones" in sem and marveling over the wisdom this man wordsmiths so succinctly for the rest of us to consume and feed on.
So it continues with this account of what angles really a pastor is about: prayer, the Word and spritual direction. Acts 6:4 certainly prescribes to Peterson's analysis as well.
This is a direct challenge to the CEO mentality in the church today. Marketing the church has taken over in too many places. The necessary corrective is offered here. As he poignantly writes: "This isn't the only task in the life of faith, but it is your task. We will find someone else to do the other important and essential tasks. This is yours: word and sacrament." Amen.
5.0 out of 5 stars Appropriately Unsettling,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)In his sharp yet graceful way, Peterson calls pastors to a needed level of introspection. As he notes, "It doesn't take many years in this business to realize that we can conduct a fairly respectable pastoral ministry without giving much more than ceremonial attention to God." Increasingly, the church is using social tools to both chase our rapidly accelerating society and to guage the church's success within our society. As a relatively new pastor, I've already experienced the pressure (my own and otherwise) to minister and measure my ministry by social standards that often have nothing to do with God's direction. Yet, Peterson clearly reminds the reader that faithfulness to God's call is often counter to society's best and most up-to-date wisdom. Through reading this book, my own priorities have shifted for the better.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Philosopy of Ministry,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)When I interviewed for my first pastorate, I began to develop and live out the angles that Peterson presents as the true role of the Pastor.
Although I have not read this book in awhile, I have a triangle posted in my office that continually reminds me what I am supposed to do and be. I am to pray, read/study Scripture, and give spiritual direction. This is especially encouraging and helpful when I get hung up in the business of running programs and putting out "fires" and . . .
Highly recomended to all in the pastorate, or considering it. Should be a text in every seminary and Bible college.
5.0 out of 5 stars It will rock pastors out of thier ecclesiasical comfort zone,
This review is from: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Paperback)Peterson effectively cuts to the heart of pastors who too easily fall into clerical complcency. He focuses on the areas of prayer, scripture, and spiritual direction. He compels us to think of who we are, far more that what we do. It is convicting and motivating. Well written and timely.
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Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity by Eugene H. Peterson (Paperback - May 1 1989)
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