Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: Holy Luck

I have been a longtime fan of Eugene Peterson. I read most if not all of his books. His publishing output is extraordinary and he is an inspiration to both pastors and authors alike. Not only has he written books on parish ministry, vocation, Biblical spirituality, but he also translated the entire Bible! It first started out as a small project, he would translate a few chapters at at time for his congregation. A few chapters turned into a few books and eventually The Message was born. I heard him speak several years ago at a ministry conference and he received several standing ovations after his talk. He is a pastor's pastor! I hope God gives him many more years of writing!

His latest book Holy Luck (Grand Rapids: Eerdman's Publishing, 2013) is Peterson's newest contribution and it is a collection of poems. I cannot believe that Peterson still, after all of his years in teaching and parish ministry still has the stamina and the mind to keep creating.

Holy Luck is not a big book, its rather small at around 90 pages and is organized around three major parts: Holy Luck, The Rustling Grass, and Smooth Stones (Occasional poems). However, these poems are very much like prayers, short, reflective and meditative stanzas that deal with life, death, growing up, death, marriage, and the Church. One could read a few at at time, close the book and spend the rest of the day thinking about them. Poetry for me is a breath of fresh air, bringing new insights to the human condition. Below are just a few that spoke to me as I read them:


The pale winter sun slants
Cool warmth
Across my iced mind
And promises a future thaw.

Four horses thunder through the storm
Of sin's hot hail
And splash apocalyptic colors
On my white-washed sepulcher.

Baptismal rains release blossom
Bursting shrubs and trees
From a cemetery winter
Into a resurrection spring.

Charismatic colors claim the earth.
Every fruit branch swings a censer
Through the air
Floating smells of praise.


Jesse's roots, composted with carcasses
Of dove and lamb, parchments of ox and goat,
Centuries of dried up prayers and bloody
Sacrifice, now bear me gospel fruit.

David's branch fed on kosher soil
Blossoms a messianic flower, and then
Ripen into a kingdom crop, conserving
The fragrance and warmth of spring for winter use.

Holy Spirit, shake our family tree;
Release your ripened fruit to our outstretched arms.

I'd like to see my children sink their teeth
Into promised land pomegranates

And Canaan grapes, bushel gifts of God,
While I skip a grace rope to a Christ tune.

If you like these there are plenty more. Most of his poems are rather short, only about a page or so but they are very beautiful. Poets are lovers of words and since Peterson is both a pastor and a writer he is a lover of words about The Word and how the Word can be expressed in words!

For more information about Holy Luck click here