The apocalyptic imagination Eugene Peterson talks of gives us a sense of ‘deep time’ – a sense of ‘ages’ that transcends the compulsion of time-management experts. But the working environment of pastors erodes patience and rewards impatience. People are uncomfortable with mystery (God) and mess (themselves). They avoid both mystery and mess by devising programs and hiring pastors to manage them. A program provides a defined structure with an achievable goal. Mystery and mess are eliminated at a stroke. This is appealing. In the midst of the mysteries of grace and the complexities of human sin, it is nice to have something that you can evaluate every month or so and find out where you stand. We don’t have to deal with ourselves or with God, but can use the vocabulary of religion and work in an environment that acknowledges God, and so be assured we are doing something significant…
…The secular mind is terrorized by mysteries. Thus it makes lists, labels people, assigns roles, and solves problems. But a solved life is a reduced life. These tightly buttoned-up people never take great faith risks or make convincing love talk. They deny or ignore the mysteries and diminish human existence to what can be managed, controlled and fixed. We live in a cult of experts who explain and solve. The vast technological apparatus around us gives us the impression that there is a tool for everything if only we can afford it. Pastors cast in the role of spiritual technologists are hard put to keep that role from absorbing everything else, since there are so many things that need to be and can, in fact, be fixed.
Eugene Peterson in The Contemplative Pastor
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