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A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson, Translator of the Message

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This essential authorized biography of Eugene Peterson offers unique insights into the experiences and spiritual convictions of the iconic American pastor and beloved translator of The Message. "In the time of a generation-wide breakdown in trust with leaders in every sphere of society, Eugene's quiet life of deep integrity and gospel purpose is a bright light against a dar This essential authorized biography of Eugene Peterson offers unique insights into the experiences and spiritual convictions of the iconic American pastor and beloved translator of The Message. "In the time of a generation-wide breakdown in trust with leaders in every sphere of society, Eugene's quiet life of deep integrity and gospel purpose is a bright light against a dark backdrop."--John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry "This hunger for something radical--something so true that it burned in his bones--was a constant in Eugene's life. His longing for God ignited a ferocity in his soul." Encounter the multifaceted life of one of the most influential and creative pastors of the past half century with unforgettable stories of Eugene's lifelong devotion to his craft and love of language, the influences and experiences that shaped his unquenchable faith, the inspiration for his decision to translate The Message, and his success and struggles as a pastor, husband, and father. Author Winn Collier was given exclusive access to Eugene and his materials for the production of this landmark work. Drawing from his friendship and expansive view of Peterson's life, Collier offers an intimate, beautiful, and earthy look into a remarkable life. For Eugene, the gifts of life were inexhaustible: the glint of fading light over the lake, a kiss from Jan, a good joke, a bowl of butter pecan ice cream. As you enter into his story, you'll find yourself doing the same--noticing how the most ordinary things shimmer with a new and unexpected beauty.


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This essential authorized biography of Eugene Peterson offers unique insights into the experiences and spiritual convictions of the iconic American pastor and beloved translator of The Message. "In the time of a generation-wide breakdown in trust with leaders in every sphere of society, Eugene's quiet life of deep integrity and gospel purpose is a bright light against a dar This essential authorized biography of Eugene Peterson offers unique insights into the experiences and spiritual convictions of the iconic American pastor and beloved translator of The Message. "In the time of a generation-wide breakdown in trust with leaders in every sphere of society, Eugene's quiet life of deep integrity and gospel purpose is a bright light against a dark backdrop."--John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry "This hunger for something radical--something so true that it burned in his bones--was a constant in Eugene's life. His longing for God ignited a ferocity in his soul." Encounter the multifaceted life of one of the most influential and creative pastors of the past half century with unforgettable stories of Eugene's lifelong devotion to his craft and love of language, the influences and experiences that shaped his unquenchable faith, the inspiration for his decision to translate The Message, and his success and struggles as a pastor, husband, and father. Author Winn Collier was given exclusive access to Eugene and his materials for the production of this landmark work. Drawing from his friendship and expansive view of Peterson's life, Collier offers an intimate, beautiful, and earthy look into a remarkable life. For Eugene, the gifts of life were inexhaustible: the glint of fading light over the lake, a kiss from Jan, a good joke, a bowl of butter pecan ice cream. As you enter into his story, you'll find yourself doing the same--noticing how the most ordinary things shimmer with a new and unexpected beauty.

30 review for A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson, Translator of the Message

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Ramsey

    The summer before my senior year in high school I spotted an unclaimed copy of The Message in my church’s lost and found cabinet buried underneath a pile of outdated eyeglasses and discarded t-shirts. My church leaders and parents had eyed it with suspicion, so when enough time had passed to know it wouldn’t be claimed, I secreted it away and carried it with me to my first summer away from home. The words I found inside changed my vision of God’s Word—it simply came alive. Quietly, in secret, re The summer before my senior year in high school I spotted an unclaimed copy of The Message in my church’s lost and found cabinet buried underneath a pile of outdated eyeglasses and discarded t-shirts. My church leaders and parents had eyed it with suspicion, so when enough time had passed to know it wouldn’t be claimed, I secreted it away and carried it with me to my first summer away from home. The words I found inside changed my vision of God’s Word—it simply came alive. Quietly, in secret, reading The Message felt like putting on royal robes as I realized I was wholly loved by God. That discarded Bible in a pile of glasses and shirts sparked new sight and covered me with love. It wasn’t until a decade + later, that I would stumble into Eugene’s words in books, but this time *I* was the thing discarded in a church’s proverbial lost and found pile. I began reading Eugene’s books right as my pastor husband and I confronted spiritual abuse and consumeristic church sin—where we and so many others were treated like pawns in propping up a leader’s power and ego and discarded when we were not willing to be crushed any further. In Eugene’s books, I found the same cautions we had spoken. When you stand up to power and are unheard, you sometimes wonder if you are crazy. In Eugene’s words, the Spirit strengthened me to trust that there remained a remnant of a church and that on the margins of power, we remained in the center of God’s love and plan. As Eugene loved to quote, “there are still 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” We were not alone. Eugene became my pastor when complex PTSD from spiritual abuse made attending church physically re-traumatizing for a season. Every Sunday in that season, I read a sermon from As Kingfishers Catch Fire, and my body learned to relax into the rhythm of a pastor’s voice being kind, safe, and more attuned to presence than accumulating power. Even now, I pick up one of Eugene’s books every time I feel weary in my work as a therapist and author. In his words, I remember how to see the world as brimming with grace and myself as clothed, irrevocably, in love. In Winn Collier’s biography of Eugene, I found space to sit with my friend and pastor Eugene—the friend I never met and only began reading the year he died. Collier was a sensitive steward of Eugene’s story, telling it with both tenderness and truth. The man Eugene came more alive—even in his shortcomings. Considering the amount of research Winn had to do to hold Eugene’s mammoth corpus of writing, journals, and correspondence into a comprehensive yet compelling book—I’m honestly amazed. Thanks be to God for Winn’s faithfulness to tell this story and to tell it with a beauty matching its subject. Saint Irenaeus is famously known for writing, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Eugene was a man, more than almost any I have encountered, who chose to live aflame by grace, fully alive. I ended the book with one lingering thought: if Eugene could radiate such goodness, imagine how good it will be to encounter to Jesus. Thank you, Winn (and God, thank you for Eugene), for ushering my heart to worship the Son of the Living God.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Some books are hard to put down and then for others, there’s also a sense that you don’t want them to end — Winn Collier’s biography of Eugene Peterson was just that. I finally got to the end of the book and shut it with tears in my eyes, held it to my chest for several minutes and whispered, “wow.” Collier’s writing is captivating yet earthy, and his retelling of Peterson’s quiet integrity and unpretentious spirituality amidst the twists and turns of his life is remarkable. Peterson was by no m Some books are hard to put down and then for others, there’s also a sense that you don’t want them to end — Winn Collier’s biography of Eugene Peterson was just that. I finally got to the end of the book and shut it with tears in my eyes, held it to my chest for several minutes and whispered, “wow.” Collier’s writing is captivating yet earthy, and his retelling of Peterson’s quiet integrity and unpretentious spirituality amidst the twists and turns of his life is remarkable. Peterson was by no means a perfect, heroic figure, and Collier’s writing carried no hint of romanticized idealization. Here are Collier’s own words, after listing Peterson’s tremendous achievements: “But what mattered to me—to so many of us who knew and loved him—was something so much deeper, something none of us can really explain. You would just have to sit with the man. You’d have to encounter his warmth, his welcome, the hospitality of his silence. You’d have to encounter the way he knew God.” Most of us who resonate with Peterson’s spirituality and approach to pastoral ministry would not have had the opportunity to sit with him but Collier has helped us do just that: encounter Eugene Peterson and the depths that he embodied. I’m a fast reader but I deliberately savored this book and I think it will stay with me for a while.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tara Owens

    In 2007, I attended a conference for Christians in the arts at which Eugene Peterson was the week's chaplain. I had been companioned by The Message and had read a number of Peterson's works, but the man himself had been less of a draw than the conference, tentative and green writer as I was. To be surrounded by people of faith who valued the arts and called the artistic community to a rigor and honor of both the tradition of the medium to which each was called and to the Christian tradition was In 2007, I attended a conference for Christians in the arts at which Eugene Peterson was the week's chaplain. I had been companioned by The Message and had read a number of Peterson's works, but the man himself had been less of a draw than the conference, tentative and green writer as I was. To be surrounded by people of faith who valued the arts and called the artistic community to a rigor and honor of both the tradition of the medium to which each was called and to the Christian tradition was a revelation. Even still, Peterson was a sort of celebrity that week, with people vying for his attention and care. Somehow, he managed to dodge the pedestal while acknowledging each attendee's need to be seen and spoken to by a man so many considered and still consider a spiritual father. I was somewhat chagrined to watch as people approached Peterson to have him sign their copy of The Message, but also wondered how I, too, might ask for a blessing from the man who—quite apart from his notoriety—pastored this collection of artists and my own heart during the week of this event. Eventually I decided that I would approach him at a quiet moment and ask him to write a word or two in my journal, and ask for a blessing to be spoken over me. When the appropriate time opened up, I was able to share some of my own story, briefly, and ask for what I had intended. I expected a short word of prayer. Instead, Peterson asked me to sit down, and named things he saw in my journey with heart and gravitas. And then, tenderly as a father would, he asked permission and took my hands in his and blessed them with words that resonate in my heart even to this day. I share this story because reading A Burning in My Bones was like having my hands held by Peterson all over again. While I can never thank him for that moment or how it has shaped me over the years, holding Collier's biography feels like sitting down again in those faded orange and burgundy auditorium chairs and having Peterson share a little of his own story, the journey that brought him to that moment (and beyond), and being able to take those weathered hands in mine as he once did and say, Thank you. Thank you, Collier, for writing an honest and timely story about the man who pastored so many of us, who eschewed pedestals for pulpits, but even more turned away from platforms toward people. In high school I memorized a John Keats poem that spoke to me of the importance of writing, and I share it here because it encapsulates what I believe Collier's biography does for us, allowing us finally to hold the hand of the man who held the pen and our hearts for so long. This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in the icy silence of the tomb, So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is– I hold it towards you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: The authorized biography of pastor-theologian and Bible translator Eugene Peterson. He pastored a congregation for nearly thirty years. He preached thousands of sermons, wrote dozens of books, translated the Bible into vernacular English, welcomed hundreds, if not thousands into his and Jan’s home, including Bono. He never sought popularity or engaged in the polemics that roiled American evangelicalism. In the end, what mattered most was contemplating the wonders of God in the words of s Summary: The authorized biography of pastor-theologian and Bible translator Eugene Peterson. He pastored a congregation for nearly thirty years. He preached thousands of sermons, wrote dozens of books, translated the Bible into vernacular English, welcomed hundreds, if not thousands into his and Jan’s home, including Bono. He never sought popularity or engaged in the polemics that roiled American evangelicalism. In the end, what mattered most was contemplating the wonders of God in the words of scripture and the beauty outside his Montana home, loving Jan and his children. That was Eugene Peterson. I have roughly two feet of his books on my shelves. I cull many books. These remain. Why? Because, unlike many others, these seem to speak from a place beyond my generation. How did he come to write such works? Winn Collier’s biography of Eugene Peterson begins to give me some clues. Collier enjoyed access not only to Peterson during the last years of his life, but also to his papers. He is now the director of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination at Western Theological Seminary. He offers a rendering of Peterson’s life that probes the formative influences of his life, the decisions he came to about pastoral integrity in his own ministry, the continued quest for congruence in his life, and the beautiful soul he became, amid both his flaws and longings. We begin with his Montana upbringing, his boyhood in the beautiful country, his Pentecostal preacher mother and distant butcher father. We learn of his running career at Seattle Pacific that eventually culminated in a Boston Marathon and the beginnings of his writing career. After an aborted effort to plant a Pentecostal church, he headed off to seminary at Biblical Seminary in New York, and really discovered scripture as a narrative in which we encounter the living God, not a sourcebook for talking points. Then on to Maryland, studies with William Albright, where he would not only encounter biblical languages and archaeology, but Jan Stubbs, who would become his wife. It appeared Peterson was headed toward an academic career when he turned down the chance to study at Yale with Brevard Childs to begin a church in Bel Air, a suburb outside Baltimore. The next choices of pastoral integrity came as he dealt with the conflict between his biblically informed intuitions of the work of a pastor and how he was being taught to “run the damn church” as he expressed it in his frustrations that came to a head when he uttered these words in a session meeting. In the end, the elders agreed to run the church, while he prayed, studied scripture, and cared for souls–and finally began to take the time he needed to with Jan and his children. Collier doesn’t engage in hagiography. He discusses the trouble Eric, Peterson’s eldest had with knowing his father’s love, a consequence of Peterson’s absence in his early childhood. Peterson saw glimpses of his own struggles with his father but struggled to heal this wound. Then we learn of an incident in Peterson’s late fifties when a relationship with a spiritual directee in his church became emotionally if not physically intimate. Jan recognized this with some of the hardest conversations in their marriage to follow. Peterson broke off the relationship. Even the best of marriages are flawed and tested, as this one was. He had the wisdom to recognize when the good thing of his pastoral ministry was coming to an end, even as his passion for writing was growing. His growing restlessness led to his resignation in 1991 and the beginnings of what became The Message. Collier goes into Peterson’s growing conviction that a translation in vernacular English that captured the unvarnished unsanitized language of scripture. As he did so, he moved on to teach at Regent College. Collier describes his unconventional teaching style, the raspy voice, the long silences, and his growing notoriety. Once more, congruence called, and the retreat to the family cabin they named Selah House that became a kind of monastery. As Peterson’s fame grew with the completion of The Message (along with controversy about the translation), Peterson felt and inward and upward call. It was a call to cherish Jan and family, while still welcoming many, including Bono who made their way to his door. More and more he felt he was getting ready to die. There is beauty and pathos in this story. Contemplation of the lake and the mountains, a final camping trip, reflections on the Psalms, writing that slowly came to a trickle after his five books of spiritual theology. He suffered a fall and head injury from which he was never quite the same. His valedictory book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire was marred by the controversial end to his interview with Jonathan Merritt where he confessed some of his personal struggles with the issue of homosexuality and if approached as a pastor, that he would perform a same sex marriage, only to subsequently retract this statement. At this point, Peterson’s vascular dementia was already advancing and Collier’s assessment was that “Eugene should never have been doing interviews at all.” His end came a few years later. It was a good end that I won’t spoil because Collier’s telling is so rich and poignant. At one point in the book, the observation came up that Peterson only had one sermon. I only heard Peterson speak once, and what he said was indeed congruent with his books. He spoke to InterVarsity’s national staff after one of our largest Urbana conventions. He warned of the danger of success and the temptations that come with it and the quiet path of integrity, the “long obedience in the same direction” for which he was known. Collier captures all of this and a life lived with that deep congruity of love for God that loved both words fitly spoken or written and the silence that allowed others to let down and become themselves. Even as was the case with the things Peterson said and wrote, I will carry this biography in my mind and my heart for a long time as a precious gift. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chase Andre

    What Winn Collier did with A Burning in my Bones is quite remarkable. Read this for a peeled-back look at a private, contemplative pastor—and one of Evangelicalism's most consequential writers. You'll discover the interior life of a would-be saint, fall in love with his marriage to Jan, and be delighted by the blossoming relationship between the old man who wanted no notoriety, and the rock star adulated by the masses. His struggles, longings, pains will feel real—maybe even familiar. If I have What Winn Collier did with A Burning in my Bones is quite remarkable. Read this for a peeled-back look at a private, contemplative pastor—and one of Evangelicalism's most consequential writers. You'll discover the interior life of a would-be saint, fall in love with his marriage to Jan, and be delighted by the blossoming relationship between the old man who wanted no notoriety, and the rock star adulated by the masses. His struggles, longings, pains will feel real—maybe even familiar. If I have one critique, I would have loved to read more about the circumstances surrounding why The Message was born. Collier zooms into Peterson's personal, interior life often—through journal entries and stories from people in his life and congregation—it feels like he skimmed past what could have been an enlightening look at the motivations for the text that defined the man. This isn't, in my view, reason for one less star, just a question left only lightly answered. Regardless, this is a book I cherished—and will for some time. I'm already plotting who in my life needs to receive this as a gift.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Just outstanding. Now one of my favourite biographies of anyone. It’s as well written and warm as anything Eugene Peterson wrote and it never transgresses into hagiography or reductionism. How Collier’s subject would have loathed that. I imagine that the life of a man or woman of letters is a challenge for a writer at the best of times. But Peterson was also an intentionally unspectacular pastor who utterly despised and thus avoided the trappings of American celebrity Christianity (despite at tim Just outstanding. Now one of my favourite biographies of anyone. It’s as well written and warm as anything Eugene Peterson wrote and it never transgresses into hagiography or reductionism. How Collier’s subject would have loathed that. I imagine that the life of a man or woman of letters is a challenge for a writer at the best of times. But Peterson was also an intentionally unspectacular pastor who utterly despised and thus avoided the trappings of American celebrity Christianity (despite at times battling their temptations). So on the surface the life of a bible translator and local Church pastor will seem slim pickings to the outsider. But what a rich and gloriously good life. And a loving life. I never came close to meeting him but this book seems to welcome us into Peterson’s inner sanctum as his friends. Such a privilege. And what surprises along the way! Pat Roberson! Sir Roger Bannister!! Bono!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    For me this was the right book at the right time as I came off a good but exhausting season of ministry. I don’t agree with Peterson on everything, but his (cultivated) instincts about pastoral ministry are a lifeline in the midst of the ubiquitous emphasis on ambition, platform, and celebrity. Peterson charted a different course and encouraged others on the way. Through Collier, he’s still encouraging us. I’m grateful to Jonathan Rodgers for interviewing Collier on his podcast as that is what co For me this was the right book at the right time as I came off a good but exhausting season of ministry. I don’t agree with Peterson on everything, but his (cultivated) instincts about pastoral ministry are a lifeline in the midst of the ubiquitous emphasis on ambition, platform, and celebrity. Peterson charted a different course and encouraged others on the way. Through Collier, he’s still encouraging us. I’m grateful to Jonathan Rodgers for interviewing Collier on his podcast as that is what convinced to read this book (and I’m so glad I did!).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aj Byrd

    I found myself closing the book a good amount and quietly asking God for forgiveness for my ignorant criticism of a man’s work I knew nothing about because it was the “cool” thing to do, to appear like I knew it all. What a gift this book is, to show Eugene’s desire of wanting to be a saint as told in the book, a quiet and contemplative one at that.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chad D

    This book shares how Peterson wanted to be a saint, in the formal "there are some really special Christians, not just everybody a run-of-the-mill-saint" sense, and suggests that he succeeded. It's engagingly written, and clear--easy to read and follow, full of Peterson's own words from letters and journals. Collier really wants to give readers a sense of what it was like to be in Peterson's presence, and this I think he has done well. Peterson's presence healed others because it carried God's pre This book shares how Peterson wanted to be a saint, in the formal "there are some really special Christians, not just everybody a run-of-the-mill-saint" sense, and suggests that he succeeded. It's engagingly written, and clear--easy to read and follow, full of Peterson's own words from letters and journals. Collier really wants to give readers a sense of what it was like to be in Peterson's presence, and this I think he has done well. Peterson's presence healed others because it carried God's presence, as a saint's should. My favourite parts are the last chapter and the coda. Here the personality and core beliefs of Peterson take centre stage, often in his own words. Who he was, I think, comes through clearly. The biographical part of it is pretty good. It helpfully provides key reasons why, say, he got through the doldrums of the pastorate. Why he ended up in the pastorate. How courting and marrying his Jan changed his orientation toward his vocation. Maybe it looks a little too closely at his struggles and hard times. I wanted more about his joys in the pastorate, if he had any. About his friendships and relationships with people other than Jan and Bono. It's maybe just too short. He was a complicated, beautiful man, and this many pages with this many words on each isn't enough to convey how or why this was who he was. But this was who he was. At several places, his words inspired me deeply, and his life warmed and challenged mine, and gave me hope, as a saint's does.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Such a rich, textured portrait of a pastor who strove to be faithful. I appreciated that Collier doesn’t shy away from Peterson’s frustrations and longings. And though there is much to admire about Peterson, he’s still very human (as he was well aware.) I just love to hear about those who served in small, faithful, persistent ways and resisted bigger/better/faster as a life goal. Collier’s prose is loving and nimble, as he pulls together themes and observations with simple and elegant language.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Brown

    Very rarely do I truly mourn the ending of a book. This was such a book. Stories of the abuse of power, greed, and salacious activity — particularly within the Christian context — while important to observe, can be numbing and discouraging. It was deeply refreshing to read about a life lived well. Though imperfect, Eugene Peterson’s life could be marked with two words: congruence and simplicity. May it be so with us.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Shurance

    Wonderful! I listened to the whole 10 hour audiobook without speeding it up.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Herr

    Thankful to know more about the life of this saint. There’s much to learn about presence, unity and devotion from Eugene.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tony Villatoro

    Having read Eugene’s autobiography years ago and now having just finished his biography after he has went on to his reward, I’ve been refreshed on Eugene Peterson’s views about pastoral ministry and they way he lived locally as a pastor. So much to think about and to commit to in this vocation. I always think of his family, especially his wife, as the calling to be a pastor’s wife is one of the most selfless callings I know of. This bio is littered with Eugene’s journaling and brings about so man Having read Eugene’s autobiography years ago and now having just finished his biography after he has went on to his reward, I’ve been refreshed on Eugene Peterson’s views about pastoral ministry and they way he lived locally as a pastor. So much to think about and to commit to in this vocation. I always think of his family, especially his wife, as the calling to be a pastor’s wife is one of the most selfless callings I know of. This bio is littered with Eugene’s journaling and brings about so many things he left out in his autobiography, obviously. This one was a treat. Here are a few highlights I took from it: First Sentence:
A few minutes after 7:00am, with sun streaming through her kitchen windows on a fresh Maryland day, Jan Peterson scooped hot eggs onto five plates, next to scrapple and fried apple rings. -xv

The butcher shop was a place, as he would later describe the church, with “a lot of misfits and oddballs.” It placed him, in a context of unspectacular ordinariness — and he learned to see it as holy. -19 For sixty years of ministry, Eugene became a deep and persistent student of Barth, reading through the mammoth corpus of Church dogmatics at least twice. However, it was not so much Barth’s precise, labyrinthine (if majestic) arguments that compelled Eugene but rather the way Barth did theology, the posture he had before God and with others. -83 Teaching people pray and teaching them to die a good death — Eugene often said these were two essentials in the job description of a pastor. -268 These prayer warrior types seem to think that the only effective way to convince others that prayer is our life blood is to open a vein and bleed all over the carpet. Thank you, I’d rather keep my blood within my veins… where it can do its proper work invisibly and with a tech of absurdity. -269 There is no church I’m familiar with over the past 2000 years that I would be a member of if it were up to me… Yet I have little time for the anti-church crowd who seem snobbish and who ave little sense of the lived way of soul and Christ. -270 This [pastoral work] is modest work. This is not glamorous work, this is behind-the-scenes, ignored, patient servant work. Forget about being relevant, about being effective. Friends, you are living in exile — get used to it… The less people notice you the better. -270 You cannot rush Walden into people’s hearts — gesture and hint. -272 
 Last sentence: “Thank you,” I said, “Thank you.” -307

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book had to come to an end at some point, no matter how long I delayed it. I read small bits. I wrote a lot in my journal. So much of Peterson's early life was so familiar to my own, growing up in the Assemblies of God. How the Scriptures came alive to him in that seminary class was my story in a Bible college class when I was a junior. Peterson's temper. His inner struggles that no one really knew about. His struggle with the church as a whole... and his passionate love for the church all This book had to come to an end at some point, no matter how long I delayed it. I read small bits. I wrote a lot in my journal. So much of Peterson's early life was so familiar to my own, growing up in the Assemblies of God. How the Scriptures came alive to him in that seminary class was my story in a Bible college class when I was a junior. Peterson's temper. His inner struggles that no one really knew about. His struggle with the church as a whole... and his passionate love for the church all at the same time. Winn Collier has gifted us with a biography that perfectly captures Peterson's voice and at the same time it invites us to sit in a comfortable chair and feel like Peterson sits with us. This book deeply moved me. And, it had to come to an end. I delayed it as long as possible. I mourn moving on from it. Honestly. Peterson held a place I had hoped I could hold in my own spiritual life: the place of ambiguity. I still have decades to go (the Lord willing) and I have my doubts as to being able to stay in that place of love and ambiguity. Our culture is so explosive and demands too many answers when few answers are to be had. I pray for the resolve to live in the mystery. The ambiguity. I don't want to be nailed down any longer on the culture wars junk. I want to love Christ and love others. Even if it is perfectly imperfect, this is where I want to be found. READ THIS BOOK.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason Kanz

    Several years ago, I read my first Eugene Peterson book, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, which is a part of his five-volume spiritual theology collection. I was hooked from the start. Peterson was obviously a man who cared for words, cherished beauty, guarded truth, and delighted in the Trinitarian God. I soon took it upon myself to read everything from him that I could find and I have rarely been disappointed. Because I have read nearly all of his books, and some of them several times, I expecte Several years ago, I read my first Eugene Peterson book, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, which is a part of his five-volume spiritual theology collection. I was hooked from the start. Peterson was obviously a man who cared for words, cherished beauty, guarded truth, and delighted in the Trinitarian God. I soon took it upon myself to read everything from him that I could find and I have rarely been disappointed. Because I have read nearly all of his books, and some of them several times, I expected to enjoy this biography by Winn Collier (who incidentally wrote another favorite book of mine, Love Big, Be Well); however, I did not expect to be surprised with any new information. Collier proved me wrong. Repeatedly, Collier lovingly shared information I never knew. Every page was a delight. Perhaps what I appreciated the most was that Collier did not present Peterson as an unblemished saint. Far too often, Christian biographies are inane and shadowless. Not so with A Burning in my Bones. Rather than presenting Peterson as a caricature of holiness, Collier managed to capture Peterson's true sainthood, an earthy, beautiful spirituality. In my opinion, this is simply the finest biography I have ever read. Winn is an exceptional communicator and wordsmith writing about an exceptional communicator and wordsmith. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    A hearty biography of a man I’ve admired for a while. I don’t know of any other author/pastor who has influenced my life more than Eugene Peterson (Dallas Willard might be a close second). Though there’s a good portion of this found in his memoir, “The Pastor”, there were pieces that I had not known about him - pieces that made him more human than maybe the spiritual giant I made him to be. The book is full of quotes from his personal journal entries and even has some colorful pictures in it. If A hearty biography of a man I’ve admired for a while. I don’t know of any other author/pastor who has influenced my life more than Eugene Peterson (Dallas Willard might be a close second). Though there’s a good portion of this found in his memoir, “The Pastor”, there were pieces that I had not known about him - pieces that made him more human than maybe the spiritual giant I made him to be. The book is full of quotes from his personal journal entries and even has some colorful pictures in it. If you enjoy Eugene’s work, check this out.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Winn Collier does an excellent job in unfolding Peterson's life and vision for Christianity, the pastorate, and ministry. I miss a man I've never met, understand his strengths and weaknesses better, and most of all want to know God the way Peterson did. A helpful and compelling biography for any person, but especially helpful for pastors who are trying to minister "The Jesus Way." Winn Collier does an excellent job in unfolding Peterson's life and vision for Christianity, the pastorate, and ministry. I miss a man I've never met, understand his strengths and weaknesses better, and most of all want to know God the way Peterson did. A helpful and compelling biography for any person, but especially helpful for pastors who are trying to minister "The Jesus Way."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Raully

    Collier is not only a biographer; he was a friend who describes Peterson as his lifelong "pastor through letters." For years he had unconditional access to the Peterson family, his journals and his letters. Last night at the book launch, he said something like this: that the best thing about working on this project for four years was that Peterson was everything in private that he had been in public, that he was a man of integrity in an age when so many Christian leaders reveal themselves otherw Collier is not only a biographer; he was a friend who describes Peterson as his lifelong "pastor through letters." For years he had unconditional access to the Peterson family, his journals and his letters. Last night at the book launch, he said something like this: that the best thing about working on this project for four years was that Peterson was everything in private that he had been in public, that he was a man of integrity in an age when so many Christian leaders reveal themselves otherwise. I highly recommend this book, not only for its winsome prose (sadly, pun intended) but for its inspiring subject matter: A rural pastor committed to constancy, the beauty of God, the vibrancy of the Word and the discipline of faith who managed to inspire an entire generation of pastors through his prose and his character.

  20. 5 out of 5

    dan snyder

    a beautifully written book about a beautiful soul

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I cried at the end of reading such a lovely witness of the steadfast humility and goodness of Eugene’s life. That’s the truest endorsement I can give, the simplest and the best.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Josh Head

    This book is a complete and utter masterpiece. Collier’s writing is so intimate and finely crafted. Peterson continues to speak. I continue to be grateful.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Mcknight

    For any Eugene Peterson fans and those who may know his name but not much about him, this biography is a gem. There is so much to think about in this biography, not the least of which is what a true pastor is - genuine, humble, real and the opposite of glitzy, loud and a stereotypical mega-church pastor.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melanie McGehee

    I squealed when I got a NetGalley advanced read. This is a book to slowly savor. I loved hearing first hand accounts of Pastor Peterson. I loved the tales of his early life. Oh to mimic a few of his habits in order to draw near to our savior.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Exceptionally engaging writing. And what a life to tell the story about.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim Johnson

    Wow. So good.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Steele

    Warm, kindly written, and a beautiful story of someone who deserves our respect and remembering, and yet was as human and imperfect as all of us.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wagner Floriani

    Couldn’t put it down. A biography clearly written from the standpoint of an admirer, yet balanced with the honesty I’d imagine Peterson would want honored. Personally refreshed time and time again by the life of this man.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Traci Rhoades

    Shortest review ever. Read this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John Chandler

    As a former pastor who is on a path to become a spiritual director, this book is a gift for pastors or anyone involved in some kind of spiritual leadership. Eugene was a pastor to pastors, but Winn Collier acquaints us with Eugene the person in a way that makes him human and relatable while also helping us aspire to who he was. It helps that Winn was the perfect person to write this book. His heart, humility, and beautiful prose match the standards set by Eugene himself. The last year has been e As a former pastor who is on a path to become a spiritual director, this book is a gift for pastors or anyone involved in some kind of spiritual leadership. Eugene was a pastor to pastors, but Winn Collier acquaints us with Eugene the person in a way that makes him human and relatable while also helping us aspire to who he was. It helps that Winn was the perfect person to write this book. His heart, humility, and beautiful prose match the standards set by Eugene himself. The last year has been especially difficult for all the pastors I stay in touch with. The timing of this book couldn't be better, and I hope it will be an encouragement and inspiration to all of them.

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