Friday, September 7, 2007
Don't Miss This Book!
I first heard Eugene Peterson, the man who translated The Message, this spring at Point Loma's Writer's Symposium by the Sea. He was funny, intelligent, earnest, softly-spoken, and, to my delight, a great fan of classic literature. He spoke about how reading Dickens, Joyce, Conrad, Austen, Shakespeare, Milton, and others revolutionized the way he pastors his church and the way he views the Bible.
I'm now reading Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (2006), and I'm enjoying every word. Currently I'm in the second half of the book where he very clearly spells out the method of lectio divina, an ancient, contemplative way of reading Scripture. There are basically four elements of lectio which intermix beautifully as we read with our minds and our hearts: 1) lectio (we read the text), 2) meditatio (we meditate on the text), 3) oratio (we pray the text), and 4) contemplatio (we live the text) (p. 91).
I first read about the practice of lectio divina when I read Kathleen Norris' wondrous book, The Cloister Walk, in which she relates her experience of living as a Benedictine oblate while remaining a Presyterian. She described the process of lectio as she learned it from the monks, and immediately I was enthralled by the practice. In some ways, it is very little different than our evangelical idea of "praying the Scriptures," but, at the same time, lectio is so much more.
So if you find yourself interested in the practice of lectio divina (Latin for "divine reading"), or if you would like to refresh the practice in your own devotional life, or if you find your curiosity piqued just a leetle bit, I highly recommend Eat This Book. I'm finding that it's assuaging my spiritual hunger very nicely.