Farewell, eugene – philip yancey severe anxiety attack what to do

This week I lost a friend, and the world lost one of God’s favorites: Eugene Peterson. Other blogs and websites are reporting on his achievements as a pastor, professor, and author. Rather than repeat the many well-deserved eulogies in his honor, I decided to reflect on a few snapshots that show his more human side.

The Message. hypoxic anoxic brain injury anthony Eugene first rewrote the book of Galatians for his local church, the genesis of what would become a 12-year-long undertaking to render the original languages of the Bible into modern, colloquial English. I remember a later weekend when a group of us writers got together to bemoan our plight, gossip about publishers, and share each other’s works in progress. Eugene had just paraphrased some of the Psalms, his favorite Bible book, and read them to us to great effect.


Over dinner that evening, the writer Harold Fickett said, “Eugene, I think you’ve found your calling. Stop whatever else you’re doing and paraphrase the entire Bible.” Eugene stared at him for a moment, as if questioning Harold’s sanity, then flashed his winning smile and gave his patented “Heh, heh” laugh. To our astonishment (and his), he soon embarked on that herculean effort.

More than a decade later, Eugene called me with a question. By then The Message was well on its way to selling over twenty million copies. “Philip, what am I supposed to do with all this money?” he asked. “I’m a pastor, a college professor. I’m not used to this stuff.”

Vail. One of Eugene’s admirers sponsored a gathering of around forty friends at a mountain resort in Colorado and asked me to moderate the weekend. “We’d like you to respond to some of Eugene’s prepared talks and also interview him.” Great, I thought, I’ll save up all the questions that befuddle me and let Eugene answer them.

At the first session, I introduced him by mentioning the single fact that impressed me most about Eugene—not his theological acumen, his accomplishments, or his published works. “Eugene, I heard that when you were a young man, Roger Bannister visited your city shortly after becoming the first human to run a four-minute mile. Is it true that you ran an exhibition race with him and finished in 4:07?”

Pastor. As a public speaker, Eugene broke every rule in the book. His voice was strained and hoarse, somewhat like Bill Clinton’s. He stood with his feet close together, as though anchored to one spot, slightly rocking back and forth on his toes. I could hardly believe he grew up in the Pentecostal tradition, this gentle introvert who never raised his voice and made few hand gestures. hypoxic encephalopathy icd 10 Yet when Eugene spoke, people listened.

The median church in the United States—the point at which half the churches are smaller and half are larger— has 75 regular participants on Sunday mornings. If you take the average church size, including all the megachurches, the average church still has only 186 attenders. I know many dispirited pastors of those “average” churches who look to Eugene for inspiration: whereas the media-savvy pastors of large churches get the publicity, Eugene showed that “success” in the shepherd role is measured more by faithfulness than by glitz and glamour. His life, mostly spent out of the limelight, could be summarized in one of his book titles, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

Tucked away in a remote setting in Montana, Eugene had an amazing naivete about the surrounding culture of celebrity and entertainment. When someone told him that Bono of the band U2 wanted to visit him, he asked, “And who is he?” On the day Princess Diana died, Eugene couldn’t understand all the fuss because he had never heard of her. He was far more interested in another person who died that same week: Mother Teresa.

Humor. Eugene taught us about “ordinary” spiritual disciplines such as prayer, staying married, showing up to worship in boring churches, and bearing one another’s burdens in community. Others are rightly reporting on Eugene’s personal integrity. Like Britain’s John Stott, Eugene presented an example of a Christian leader who practiced what he preached, a role model sorely needed in a time when the media focus on those who succumb to temptation.

At the same time, Eugene had a wicked sense of humor. I love the story Eugene tells in his memoir, The Pastor. Serving under the Presbyterian Church USA, Eugene started a new church in Maryland, which after three years grew to a membership of 200. As required, every month he submitted a report to the denomination’s headquarters in New York City, consisting of one page of statistics and another page of his personal reflections. He writes, “After a year or so of doing this without any response…I started to wonder if my denominational superiors were reading past the first page of statistics. I thought I would test out my suspicion and have a little fun on the side.”

The following month, he reported on an affair with a church member who slept with him in the sanctuary, only to be caught out by women arranging flowers for Sunday worship. nanoxia deep silence 120mm pwm Each month Eugene exercised his storytelling gifts by concocting more elaborate fictions (always with his wife Jan’s cooperation). He told of spicing up a dull liturgical service with psychedelic mushrooms—could his mentors please advise on whether he should proceed?

After three years, his supervisors invited him to New York for a performance review. Eugene asked if they had read his reports. “Oh, but we did,” the committee assured him. “We read those reports carefully; we take them very seriously.” Then he mentioned such things as his supposed drinking problem, his sexual adventure, and the use of hallucinogens in the service.

“Their faces were blank, and then confused—followed by a splendid vaudeville slapstick of buck passing and excuse making. It was a wonderful moment. I replay the scene in my imagination a couple times a year, the way some people watch old Abbott and Costello movies.”

Home.I thought I had the ideal location for a writer, beside a mountain stream in the beautiful state of Colorado. Then I visited Eugene’s home, built in part by his ancestors, situated on a high ledge overlooking a Montana lake. We stood together outside, breathing in the pure air and the forest scents, drinking in the view.

After a few moments of gazing at this idyllic scene, Eugene told me of one winter when ice was still forming on the lake. A deer in search of water wandered out too far on the ice and fell through. He knew that if he tried to help, the deer would panic and swim even farther into the frigid water. For half an hour he watched as the young doe thrashed around in the water, trying desperately to gain some purchase on the ice shelf, which would always break under her weight. Finally, against all odds, she somehow hauled herself up on an edge of more solid ice. She shook herself and stood there for a moment, her sides heaving, then suddenly bounded up the slope toward freedom.

I thought of that scene when I read the Peterson family’s reports of Eugene’s last days. “He is now in his own bedroom with a spectacular view of Flathead Lake. He is comfortable and well-cared for. It appears that he is talking with people that no one else can see. These, I believe, are not hallucinations; rather, he is being prepared for something too glorious for words.”

In 1972, I returned from Vietnam and, while I completed my time in the Navy, lived in Bel Air, MD, attending First Presbyterian Church. In that church, I met an older couple who had a daughter attending graduate school in Delaware. Eventually I met the daughter Ann and we started dating. One of Ann’s friends attended the other Presbyterian church where Gene Peterson was pastor. reflex anoxic seizures As time passed, Ann and I attended a few events as guests of Ann’s friend; I also got to know Gene through my pastor who, seeing I was interested in ministry, took me to Presbytery meetings. The relationship with Ann grew in depth and soon we were contemplating marriage, but we had not yet shared that information publically. Then, at the Presbytery meeting when I came under care of Presbytery, which Ann attended, we sat at a dinner table with Gene and a group from his church. Gene introduced us to the people by saying I was the candidate coming under care and blithely added, “This is his fiancé Ann.” After that Ann and I quickly made sure we announced our plans, quietly enjoying the reality that our engagement had been announced at Presbytery before we had a chance to share it with our families and friends ourselves. Over the years, when we have told that story, I would add that those words “his fiancé Ann” were, for me, the high point of that Presbytery meeting.

Thank you Philip for how you chose to speak about Eugene Peterson with such an intimate account of your times with him. I just knew “of him” but feel like I actually now know about this incredibly humble person who will continue to have far reaching impact in the lives of so many, including mine.

But this week, doing homework for a bible study on Galatians, I had read through Galatians several times as we were asked to do in the study. I decided Tuesday to read The Message version and thanked God that it really helped me to finally understand some things in Galatians I had not. And also, would you believe, it took away some boredom that had set in as I read and re-read Galatians. I did not know that Galatians was the first book of the Bible that he put into his own style of contemporary language. anxiety disorder nos dsm 5 code And then ended up, at someone’s incredulous suggestion, to translate the entire bible in that way. Also I did not know that he had passed away the day before his translation of Galatians meant so much to me.

He now means even more to me from your beautifully written tribute to him. And of course, just as with Eugene Petersen, I know quite well that you also have a far reaching impact on untold numbers of people. And as with Eugene Peterson, you remain humble also. It has to be by Gods Grace!