“Name the Hunger”: Eugene Peterson on the Pastoral Vocation

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“All men and women hunger for God. The hunger is masked and misinterpreted in many ways, but it is always there. Everyone is on the verge of crying out ‘My Lord and my God!’ but the cry is drowned out by doubts or defiance, muffled by the dull ache of their routines, masked by their cozy accommodations with mediocrity. Then something happens – a word, an event, a dream – and there is a push toward awareness of an incredible Grace, a dazzling Desire, a defiant Hope, a courageous Faithfulness. But awareness, as such, is not enough. Untended, it trickles into religious sentimentalism or romantic blubbering. Or, worse, it hardens into patriotic hubris or pharisaic snobbery. The pastor is there to nudge the awareness past subjectivities and ideologies into the open and say ‘God.’

We must only do what we are there to do: pronounce the Name, name the hunger.”

– Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, p. 87


2 thoughts on ““Name the Hunger”: Eugene Peterson on the Pastoral Vocation

  1. Great post. I have often said / thought that in stress when People cry out my God / or Christ in a blasphemous manner – that deep down its actually a cry for help.

  2. I’ve always found Peterson to be quite the theological and pastoral wordsmith. The books of his that I’ve read are difficult to get through because every sentence is something deeply formative.
    Anyways…I agree with your statement. Awhile back it sort of it hit me: when people use “Oh my God/Lord, etc.” it is seems to be because of the need to cry to him. Jars of Clay has a song named, “Oh my God”, in which they painfully sing of the atrocities of the world and the need for God to intervene. Thanks for raising the point.

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