Friday, February 29, 2008

Eugene Peterson on James Joyce and the Magic of the Ordinary

In an interview at a Writer’s Symposium, Eugene Peterson spoke about his ‘imagination conversion’:

“I was a new pastor. I was trying to understand my congregation. They didn’t seem to be very interesting. I’d always thought that when I became a pastor I’d have all the stars in town come—the interesting people. Celebrities. They stayed away in their droves!

And as I was muddling through all this and feeling sorry for myself, wishing I had the kind of congregation that some of my friends always bragged that they had. I later found out they lied a lot!

I was reading Ulysses, James Joyce’s greatest work and it’s about one man, Leonard Bloom and he doesn’t do anything really interesting. It’s just an ordinary day in this Dubliner’s life. I began to see through Joyce’s storytelling how interesting this ordinary life is and I can still remember the page, I think I dog-eared the page—338. I realized this is my congregation—Leonard Bloom sits in my pew every Sunday and it was a conversion, an imagination conversion.”

Source: ‘A Conversation with Eugene Peterson, Author’, by Dean Nelson Point Loma, Nazarene University: The 12th Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, 23 February 2007. Seen on YouTube.

Image: Eugene Peterson; James Joyce and Ulysses.