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Eugene Peterson takes words very seriously-- and here he examines Jesus's ministry, not from the perspective of his theology, or his actions, or his historical impact, but from the words he chooses and the styles of speech he employs. The first half of this book expresses a regret that we often "reserve one type of speech for prayer and religious activity, and another type of speech for our everyday lives", which, he argues, Jesus did not do. Perhaps this is a relevant message for Christians attending highly liturgical churches, but in terms of evangelical listeners, who may at times be accused of being brazenly casual with God, I'd say that Peterson is very much preaching to the converted (no pun intended!).
He also argues that direct speech is often offensive and for that reason, fails to achieve its purpose. Hence the title, "tell it slant", which Peterson draws from an Emily Dickinson poem and identifies with Jesus's way of teaching.
More interesting is the second half of the book, which scrutinizes the parables. He shuns stereotyped, cliched interpretations in favor of a fresh perspective that nonetheless respects the literal qualities of the text. Those fascinated with Jesus's parables will find this a worthwhile purchase for that reason alone.
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What did you love best about Tell it Slant?
This book gives a new perspective on the sacred nature of language and how Jesus used language through narrative and prayer. Jesus was a master of 'telling it slant,' which is a phrase borrowed from Emily Dickinson. Through stories, like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan (from the traveling narrative in the gospel of Luke), Jesus told truth in such a way that one would have to ponder the words in order to discover truth for oneself. Jesus also used simple, direct language in prayer, unlike many prayers said to God in public worship. This book is a thought-provoking masterpiece.
What other book might you compare Tell it Slant to and why?
There is no book quite like this in my experience, but if you enjoy the writings of John Stott, N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis and Tim Keller, you will probably enjoy this book.
What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?
Gardner's voice is clear and direct, but I wish he would be a bit more expressive.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, it is impossible to take in all the information in one sitting and it is also too long. This book is much better in small bites.