Evan Almighty, My Friend Dan and Eugene Peterson: redivivus

I’m going to be off-line for an indeterminate period, laid up in the Mater Clinic in Dublin undergoing heart surgery (as one does!). So rather than leave the blog dormant, I thought I would trawl through the archives for some posts I like, or which got a particular reaction from my reader!

This one was posted originally on 9 August 2007.


Last night Ade and I went to see ‘Evan Almighty’, and we enjoyed it. OK it was a little muddled and could have done with a few more weeks dedicated to the script, but it was reasonably funny, sometimes engaging and moving. Anyway, one incident has come back for reflection in the last 24 hours.

Baxter cleans out a plant tray to avoid providing water for a stray dog lest the hound is tempted to stay and mess up his tidy world. When God is instructing him about changing the world, God is deliberately and incidentally cleaning the same tray and filling it with water. As the dog comes to drink God says something to the effect that we change the world by performing acts of random kindness.

Can feeding a stray dog change the world?

My friends Dan and Liz from Ohio are in town and we met tonight in a familiar bar in Belfast. In the course of the usual conversation, Dan told me of a friend of his who, following the advice of a Jewish teacher, always leaves his meals unfinished, leaving some food at the side of the plate as a hedge against gluttony.

Can leaving a plate uncleaned be spiritually forming?

Eugene Peterson writes this in his book ‘The Jesus Way’:

“A sacrificial life is the means, and the only means, by which a life of faith matures.  By increments a sacrificial life—an altar here, an altar there—comes to permeate every detail of life: parenthood, marriage, friendship, work, gardening, reading a book, climbing a mountain, receiving strangers, circumcising and getting circumcised. Abraham did not become our exemplar in faith by having it explained to him but by engaging in a lifetime of travel, life on the road, daily leaving something of himself behind (self-sovereignty) and entering something new (God-sovereignty).

Sacrifice is to faith what eating is to nutrition; it is the action that we engage in that is transformed within ourselves invisibly and unobserved into a life lived in responsive obedience to the living God who gives himself to and for us, sacrifices himself for us. Faith, of which Abraham is our father, can never be understood by means of explanation or definition, only in the practice of sacrifice.” (p50-51)

(By the way, Morgan Freeman was born to play God. And, Ade says, if God created Morgan Freeman, then God must be REALLY cool.)

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