If Bono asked you to come and spend a couple of days with him, what would you say?
Eugene Peterson is the author of The Message version of the Bible, as well as numerous brilliant books on spirituality, theology and ministry. In an interview at Point Loma Nazarene University he is asked about politely turning down an invitation to hang out with U2’s lead singer, who is a big fan of The Message.
His reason for saying, ‘no’?
EP: “I was pushing a deadline on The Message. I was finishing up the Old Testament at the time… I really couldn’t do it.”
Interviewer (Dean Nelson): “You may be the only person alive who would turn down the opportunity just to make a deadline. I mean, come on, it’s Bono for crying out loud!”
EP: “Dean, it was Isaiah!”
Peterson, of course, gets a rapturous round of applause, which betrays a few things. Our delight that someone like that would turn down a chance most of us would grab at, because he is unfazed by celebrity, for one. But I love the way he implicitly critiques how casually I take my Bible reading. When we engage with the Scriptures we are in the company of remarkable, momentous events and talk, about and of God, that draw us into something bigger than ourselves.
You can see the exchange at about 12:00 mins into the video. It’s worth watching the whole thing for various insights into pastoral ministry and Peterson’s life. But following the Bono conversation they also talk about the whole idea of Bible translation. Well worth a listen.
Here’s a the video and a link if it doesn’t come through on your browser.