Thank You, Eugene Peterson

I miss the pen and voice of Pastor Eugene Peterson. Author and minister, creator of The Message Bible and mentor to many, he has served as the conscience of those called as shepherds to beautiful and contentious, gifted and distracted flocks called local churches. He generously gave me two hours of his time during a difficult period of transition early in my pastoral ministry. He helped me value the distinction and integration of pen and pulpit. His writings shaped my attitudes and actions and embodied the special call of the pastor-scholar. Pastor Peterson exemplified humility and humor, reverence for God and respect for people and instilled a deep love of beauty. Pastor, we miss you, but your generosity and wisdom in Christ has found lodging in the hearts of many.

December 3: Some Economic Proverbs

We have more tax revenues than ever…and ballooning deficits in Washington, D.C. Neither party has the courage to balance a budget and repay obligations. Here are some insights for changing the conversation:
  • Create a budget based on the real revenue of the previous year. If there is more money, decide ahead of time where it goes; if less, have the cuts ready.
  • Unregulated capitalism and bureaucratic socialism achieve the same end: a few are enriched at the expense of most.
  • Begin a process of removing the thousands of agricultural subsidies that benefit huge agribusinesses and are no longer needed.
  • Transform HUD and other agencies into efficient, decentralized catalysts for help and transformation instead of career paths for bureaucrats.
  • Cut defense spending and increase support for veterans. One less bomber means help for thousands of vets and less pork for Congress to give away.
  • Privatize all public pensions, with excellent regulations through the SEC and other agencies. Eliminate the special retirement benefits for elected federal officials and have them held to the same economic standards as all citizens.
  • Public employee unions should be able to bargain, but not hold taxpayers hostage to benefits they cannot afford. Bring all teachers and workers into Social Security and offer excellent private plans – just like the rest of the country.
  • Hold all government agencies accountable for best practices and have private-sector leaders offer insights on efficient methods and ethics.
  • Transform the IRS with simplification of the tax code and consider alternative ways of raising revenue.
  • Invigorate private/public partnerships for all kinds of infrastructure, with high standards, but honest bidding processes and a cap on “change orders” and lawsuits.
  • Stop sending tax dollars to colleges and universities for frivolous programs and lower the cost of education by demanding that teachers teach, and students work.
With courage, love and wisdom, we can change a 50-year trajectory.

November 26: Time for Tears

North American Christianity needs a baptism of tears. Instead of polarized invective that tears up apart, we need the tears of divine empathy to unite our hearts. The God of the Bible weeps and laughs, grieves deeply and dances with joy (Jeremiah 8-9; Zeph. 3; Luke 10, 19). Imagine our conversations with God and each other if we experience a baptism of tears: We will weep deeply as we confront the racism and shed joyful tears as forgiveness triumphs over retaliation. We will weep, hearing the cries of creation as humans despoil the earth and we will cry aloud with delight as gospel hope inspires ecological healing. We weep in intercession for our neighbors lost without Christ and shed tears of joy as converts are baptized and prodigals discover Abba Almighty waiting for them. We will weep when a sister or brother suffers and find our eyes moist when healing flows. This baptism of tears purges hubris and hypocrisy from our hearts. Tears will inspire love for enemies as we realize their need of grace.