Friday, January 7, 2011


A short review of E. Peterson's magnificent "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places."

To me, it was a helpful and fabulous book, exposing Christ's playful incarnation and clarifying what "spiritual theology" might mean. All that is a mouthful, and taken in small bites, I found myself fed purely and mystically by many insights.

Peterson uses a sonnet by pet and priest G. M. Hopkins to frame this work. The poem's last lines, "provide the image for the metaphorical arena for working out the details of all that is involved in Christian living."
For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs and lovenly in eyes not his
To the Father throgh the features of men's faces.
That sense of PLAY - exuberance and freedom that "mark life when it is lived beyond necessity..." which is to say that all life is or can be worship. Christ plays in creation, in history, in community.
Throughout the book, Peterson's frankness and economy of words captured my attention. He constantly moved back to the ordinariness that Jesus is God among us - a good thing to remember in Christmastide. "...everything that Jesus does and says takes place within the limits and conditions of humanity."
In the midst of this grounding, how do we live a Christian life?
The Eucharist is a core practice brought about by Christ in history. Central to my faith, I resonated deeply with the poem he quoted by R. Heber simply called
The Eucharist
Bread of the world in mercy broken,
Wine of the soul in mercy shed,
By whom the words of life were spoken,
And in whose death our sins are dead.
Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
Look on the tears by sinner shed;
And be thy feast to us the token
That by thy grace our souls are fed.
The treatment of the Eucharist in this book surprised me with fresh perspectives and emphasis.
Finally, Peterson wraps up the beauty of Christ playing in so many ways while emphasizing,
"This is slow work and cannot be hurried. It is also urgent work and cannot be procrastinated... but in the Christian way, patience and urgency are yoked. Urgent as this is, there is no hurry."
I connected with the playfulness and imaginative approach to his Christology. I will return to this book again, when I am impatient or dulled - to find Christ playing in abundant ways!
How is Christ alive in you, in this moment?

Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God's Spirit is doing, and can't be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah's question, "Is there anyone around who knows God's Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?" has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ's Spirit. 1 Cor 2:14-15 (The Message)

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