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from Peggy Senger Morrison and Alivia Biko.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review - Messages to a Refugee Planet

From William Ashworth is a member of South Mountain Friends Meeting in Ashland, OR, and of the Ministry and Oversight Committee of North Pacific Yearly Meeting. 

Another stimulating and thought-provoking essay collection from Peggy Parsons, based this time on vocal ministry instead of blog entries.

Vocal ministry is one of the constants across all branches of the Society of Friends, from the most conservative evangelical Friends church to the most liberal unprogrammed meeting. It is why Quakers quake. True vocal ministry does not consist of the thoughts of the minister, but of pass-through from the Source of the message; the minister may tinker with the wording, but never with the content. One of the signs that you are given a message, rather than just thinking it up, is the "quaking before the Lord" described by early Friends and still felt by Friends preparing to minister today. The principal difference between a Friend who merely rises in Meeting to give a message and Peggy Parsons is that, as a recorded and released minister, she is expected to be able to hear and give voice to God's messages, in detail, at previously scheduled times and places.

Peggy spends her first chapter describing her methods of listening for ministry and of shaping its delivery to its intended recipients while attempting to avoid shaping the message itself. Most of the remainder of the book (all but the last chapter) is devoted to specific ministries she has given, written down only after the fact to avoid too much wordsmithing ahead of time, which would impose her own mind too far into the message before its audience receives it. The audience and the date are noted for each message, which helps the reader understand differences in style among them. For the most part, even when speaking to liberal Friends' groups, Peggy couches her ministry in evangelical Christian language. Do not be fooled by this. This is a book for everyone: the truths she captures are universal.

Those who know her previous books will find stories they have read elsewhere. Bear with her: they are placed in a different context here - the context of vocal ministry - and although the truths they publish are the same, the views of those truths provided here are far more subtle and complex than when she uses the same stories merely to kick off blog entries. It is difficult to read this book at one sitting. Not because it is long (it isn't) or difficult (it isn't that, either), but because there is so much meat in it that the reader needs to regularly pause and contemplate. A chapter that stopped me in my tracks was the message viewing a Quaker Meeting for Business - another constant across all flavors of Friends - through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. Or perhaps vice versa. Other readers are likely to be grabbed at different places. But be warned: you will be grabbed.

And speaking of the Sermon on the Mount: do not miss Peggy's last chapter. It is a joyful retelling of several well-known scriptural passages, including the SOTM, in modern colloquial English. The translations are not just tossed off - Peggy has drawn carefully on her knowledge of ancient Greek and Hebrew as well as her considerable knowledge of Biblical exegesis - but neither are they stodgy. Friends often speak of the "Light within" or "holding in the Light." One of the functions of this book is to remind us that one of the meanings of "light" is "not heavy."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Messages to a Refugee Planet

Now Taking Orders!

Messages to a Refugee Planet is a collection of Gospel Ministry given to Peggy between 1996-2004.  It consists of nine messages, an essay on preaching, and a selection of Peggy's work with scripture translation and paraphrase. The messages cover Genesis to Apocalypse, and represent a generous, free, post-modern exegesis. As quick and uplifting a trip through the Bible as you are ever likely to take!

110 pages,$10 plus $2 postage.
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for e-book options please see unction.org

Only available from the Author at this time.
Write to Unction Press, 710 Thompson NE Salem OR 97301