<i>The Message</i> author discusses Mark

[Editor’s note: Eugene Peterson’s graduation date has been corrected.]

Hundreds of Seattle Pacific students and attendees of the Scripture as Formation Conference poured into Royal Brougham Pavilion.

One group of students brought a multi-course meal in plastic containers and ate it while waiting for the event.

The Rev. Eugene Peterson gave a lecture in the Pavilion on Thursday titled, “Saint Mark: The Basic Text for Christian Spirituality.”

Peterson graduated from SPU in 1954 and has since written over 30 books. He won a Gold Medallion Award for his book The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, an idiomatic translation of the Bible.

In his address, Peterson said the gospel of Mark is the “ideal text for Christian living” and that it is “foundational and formative for Christians.”

“Stories draw us into worlds greater than ourselves,” he said. Biblical stories are good and true stories that invite people into a world of salvation, he said. Peterson explained how biblical stories do this.

“Gospels are a verbal way of accounting for reality,” he said. “They show us something we couldn’t come up with on our own.”

This is why people must not wander from the stories in the Bible, Peterson said. They also cannot create their own set of morals for themselves because doing so causes them to abandon God, he said.

“Following Jesus means not following our culture and our wants,” Peterson said.

He said that our lives must have balance between the ascetic and the aesthetic, because being ascetic and able to say “no” is what makes humans different from animals.

“Saying ‘no’ frees us from a blind alley,” he said. “We don’t have to do what glands or culture tells us to.”

But aestheticism is also important, Peterson said, because it allows people to contemplate the glory of Christ.

“We are trained to hear the light and feel the words of God,” Peterson said. “[But] our senses have been dulled by sin, and they require healing and rehabilitation.”

Peterson emphasized the place humans have in scriptural stories.

“The gospel of Saint Mark is about Jesus, not us,” he said. “[But] we are singled out and invited to become participants in the story of Jesus. … We enter the center of the story without becoming it.”

Students were appreciative of the scope of the lecture.

“Even though there were lots of individual ideas that were really interesting and really thoughtful,” sophomore

Tucker Rogers said, “I thought the overall lecture itself was really well-structured.”

Freshman Mariel Rieland said Peterson “covered enough to be holistic. He really talked about different points.”

As the event closed, those in attendance were encouraged to stand and sing a hymn.

“It sent us off all together, collectively meditating on these words,” Rieland said.

Freshman Elizabeth Beechly said, “I thought [the hymn] was strange. It didn’t quite fit with the rest of the purpose of the evening.”

Still, Beechly said she was impressed with the event. “It really met all of my expectations, which was quite a feat,” she said. “He, as a person, is incredibly humble.”

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Title: <i>The Message</i> author discusses Mark | Author: Jenner Johnson | Section: News | Published Date: 2011-10-26 | Internal ID: 7842