In Times of Plenty and Times of Want

seven-cows  Key Text: Genesis 41 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+41&version=NIV)

If I were to start one of those online campaigns, I would call it #rawhonesty.  There’s just something about being vulnerable, being open, and being willing to share that shows our common humanity.  There’s something about being truthful in the most painful and difficult sense of the word that somehow draws others to us and makes us more approachable.  So here it is: some #rawhonesty from your fellow MennoNerd.

Chances are, you’ve probably read some of my writing on depression…you probably just didn’t know it was me.  I’ve actually written quite a few magazine articles and blog posts for outside organizations, usually under a pseudonym in order to protect my identity.  It is a sad reality, but we, in the church, still see these struggles as something akin to not lining up with our full potential in Christ.  Quite unfortunate if you ask me since Scripture itself suggests that many of the great spiritual leaders (including David, Elijah, and Jeremiah…perhaps even Jesus) struggled with these types of intense, unpleasant emotions.  But now I am stepping out, trying to change that.  Let me be totally frank for a moment: [my mother doesn’t like when I use this word, but it’s the best word to sum up my thoughts at this present time] Life just sucks right now.

In my attempt to live into #rawhonesty, let me elaborate further.  I had no idea how hard it would be to reintegrate back into Canadian culture after a year abroad.  I’ve shared this before in a few other blogs, but I basically went from having the life of my dreams to having a life I never chose.  You see, I CHOSE to go to Edinburgh, Scotland.  I CHOSE to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  I CHOSE to be part of a life-giving community.  I CHOSE to be part of an international students group and to open my heart to wonderful friendships.  I CHOSE, I CHOSE, I CHOSE and God provided.  When I think back to my year in Scotland, there is honestly not a single thing I would change because even though living abroad is challenging, for me, it was where I truly learned how to soar.  Now I have found myself in a place which I never would have considered.  I didn’t CHOOSE to live in the bush, to be away from civilization, or to be cut off from my need for church involvement…it simply happened because, I, like so many other Canadians out there needed a job and the job didn’t show up when I needed it.  So here I am.  I’ve been trying to make the most of my situation, to look for the positives, and even to believe that there is a reason God called me here….but I have to admit (sorry, Mom, I’m going to use that word again): It still sucks.

This is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend – a 3 day break right in the beginning of October to mark the abundance of our harvest, the beauty of our land, and the faithfulness of our God.  I know I should be thankful – I’ve spent the last few days trying to compile a list in order to change my perspective. But instead all I can ask is this question: “how can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”  There’s much to be grateful for: a brilliant blanket of stars each night, soaring hawks and eagles, fish jumping out of the water, and the fall colours.  Instead I find myself griping over bad Skype connections, unstable internet, and faulty phone lines.  To make matters worse, my distance has caused me to miss one of my closest friend’s weddings…a terrible weight that will likely cause me remorse and guilt for quite some time.  This is compounded by the fact that I missed the wedding while also being somewhere I don’t want to be.

Nevertheless, although I cannot manufacture happiness (nor do I think that’s what God is calling me to do), there is still a key lesson to learn in this trial and it all goes back to Genesis 41.  You see in this passage, Pharaoh had a dream about some fat cows and some skinny ones.  Joseph, the master dream teller, suggested that his vision portrayed 7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of want.  The key warning was to take those 7 years of great abundance and to store up a reserve so that during those long years of famine, people would not be left in want.  They would lack nothing.

I believe that this is the same in our own lives.  We all go through joyous moments where God is our very being and where everything is going the way we hoped, and then we plummet down into the depths and we are face-to-face with our own doubts, fears, and nagging worries.  But, if we’re strong in the Word, we know there is still something for us to receive.

Prior to my time in the bush, I was really growing in leaps and bounds spiritually.  I’ve alluded to this in a previous blog, but before Scotland, my theology was largely wrapped up in my head.  That’s not necessarily a negative thing, but it’s definitely something most theologians have found.  We are so used to source criticism and contextualization that we often forget how to make the Bible accessible to us and those closest to us.  God becomes a foreign concept rather than an intimate personal encounter.  Christ because a theological construct rather than our Lord and Saviour.  That’s why Edinburgh was such a breath of fresh air for me.  It was just that boost I needed and provided just that source of growth that is so imperative.  I had all that head knowledge, which is a great place to start, but it begin to trickle down into my heart and really change and affect the way I thought about and related to others.  While tightly holding on to my academic head, I also began exploring my pastoral heart.  Due to my many years in Bible College and Seminary, I feel like one year was probably all I really needed to get my priorities straight, especially since I wasn’t starting from scratch.  On the other hand, moving from such a close-knit group to relative isolation has been most tricky.  Yet, a wise person will realize that they can take those vital lessons they learned, which they now hold in their reserve, and use them to supplement their faith during times when it might need to be stretched out.  Of course, we should always keep feeding our souls through worship, prayer, and Scripture…but sometimes when those things are not as readily accessible to us, we may need to jolt our minds back to remembering what we were taught in the past, what we have seen with our eyes, and experienced with our hearts.  If we aren’t able to do that, we’ll constantly just be running on empty fuel.

Maybe you are also in a time like this.  You might be wondering where God is and what His purpose is for bringing you into such a trying time.  The truth is, we often don’t know…at least right away.  Sometimes God makes it clear, other times, we might not realize until 6 months, 1 year, or 10 years down the line.  Often, we might never know this side of heaven.  However, we must continue to trust that there is a reason for all we struggle with, even if only to produce character and hope.  Of course, I’m not saying our trials are easy, nor am I using this common thought as an excuse to avoid the deep spiritual work that must take place.  All I urge you is to remember those reserves when you’re about to give up.  Remember that there’s still food somewhere, and then don’t be afraid to break in and use it – because that’s what you’ve saved it up for all these years.

This Thanksgiving, I really want to encourage you all: dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness, find reasons to be thankful even when life just sucks, and practice good stewardship of those reserves.  I wish you all God’s richest blessings regardless of where you may be over this long holiday weekend.

What?!?! No Baby?!? Things to Keep in Mind When Helping Someone Through a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome

download   There is an internal drive within most women to create, foster, and nourish life for themselves.  Deep within a woman’s experience lies her intense desire to co-create with God, to settle down and “nest” and to be identified as a mother.  For many, this begins as early as childhood.  I have had a significant amount of experience working with children of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and cultures.  I have worked with city kids and rural kids, kids from big families and only children, and I have found a common thread among many of them.  Without any direction on my part, giving the preschool children a chance to have free play, boys will naturally gravitate towards tools and sports equipment and girls tend to “play house” or with dolls or stuffed animals.  There are, of course, exceptions to the norm, and plenty of argumentation that this is only the case because of cultural expectations, however, I do not believe this is necessarily true.  I believe this is because there is something that stirs in a woman’s heart almost right from the moment of conception that enables her to want to be a mother.  This is also why even women who never marry or have children, often still have an internal sense of how to respond when a baby is present.  Our eyes light up, our voices change, we become so excited, and we want to hold and cuddle that young child even though he or she might be a complete stranger to us.  On the other hand, while there are some men who would feel and react in the same way, I have more often than not met clueless men than clueless women when it comes to childcare.

Nevertheless, it is an insanely unfair reality that for whatever reason God, the very One who created us with this passion and drive for motherhood, withholds or even revokes that very life we so desired to create.  While I cannot express in words the deep pain, anguish, and aggravation this causes not only to potential mothers but to their partners and wider families, I want each of you to know that I grieve with you.  October 15th is the named Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.  It may only be one day for many of us, but for others of us, the loss of a child continues on long after this day ends.  Thus, although I cannot offer a profound method for overcoming this terrible trauma, I would like to highlight a few things I have learned over the years through my studies, and through my own experience walking alongside those who have lost their children to provide some ways for you to begin to understand some helpful ways to encourage dialogue and to promote healing and hurt rather than to shut down someone’s vulnerability.

#1: Losing a child is one of the most horrific acts anyone can experience.  It is a theft of life, a complete shattering of one’s expectations, and a re-altering of one’s perception of what is good and fair in the world.  Being able to open up about this experience takes a profound amount of courage, intimacy and trust, and being able to walk with someone through it requires careful attention, integrity, and compassion.

Losing a child at any age is a painful reminder of all that could have been, but that no longer will be.  It does not matter at what stage the child passed away – whether he was 6 years old, 6 months old, or 6 months in utero.  Losing a child is one of the most profoundly spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically altering experiences anyone can face and experts in the field classify the emotional impact as having the same results as being diagnosed with a terminal illness or being raped (although most mothers would say they would rather have taken on a physical illness themselves than have anything happen to their precious little one).  But, of course, while experts can often be helpful, the truth is, the majority of them have never had to live through such trauma themselves.  Each person decides for herself what she is comfortable sharing with and with whom.  There is often pressure to share with certain people for example parents, the father of the child, or clergy, but each woman gets to decide for herself the key people that would really benefit her to walk with.  Sometimes you may meet a woman who is so closed that she doesn’t tell this secret to anyone, at other times you may meet a woman who is so open she relates her pain even to those who do not know her well.  I urge you in either case not to make a judgement.  Do not think of the woman who is closed as being too secretive or private – perhaps it is fear that keeps her locked in.  On the other hand ,resist the temptation to accuse an open woman as being vulnerable in her attempt to “exploit” others or simply to look for sympathy.  Many women actually find it to be a great source of encouragement, comfort, healing, and even therapy to relate their experiences.  While you may have heard the story before or it may seem that she is going around in circles or constantly repeating herself, it’s important not to make snap comments about circular arguments or stating that you already know what she’s going to share.  Remember, each time the trauma is relayed in a relaxed, loving environment the pain lessens.  It’s important not to retraumatize the woman by asking her trivial questions about her pregnancy or loss simply out of curiosity.  On the other hand, be respectful of her story and understand that while you may not want to hear about it anymore, it is helping her and as her true friend this is a sacrifice you should be willing to make.

#2: Avoid judgements at all costs.

We often assume that we know people much better than we do, but when it comes to topics as sensitive as abortion, miscarriage, and loss of life, we should avoid such rash decision making and without our preconceived ideas of who the person is.

For example, if one of your friends makes a comment about miscarriage, do not right away step in by remarking “you have no idea what it’s like.”  Do you know that for a fact, 100%? It could be that this person actually has lived through the horror of this reality, but maybe they have never shared that with you before.

You may assume that the person in question hasn’t lived through this for reasons such as: they already have a 5 kids, they are a “good little church girl” and thus never would have gotten involved in something like that, they were not in an official relationship during the time they are claiming they were pregnant, or you have known them throughout your life and surely if that was the case, they would have opened up and told you.  None of these are good reasons for making such a bold assumption.

Especially when it comes to being a “good little church girl” you may assume that the person would never have considered premarital sex.  However, this is an entirely unfair statement to make.  First of all, even Christians struggle with the same passionate desires non-Christians do.  Maybe in a moment of weakness they gave in and felt terrible about it afterwards.  Maybe it is exactly because of that strong faith and their commitment to purity before marriage that they still hold guilt and regret years later.  It may sound crazy to an outsider, but church kids actually statistically have a higher rate of abortions because they are trying to hide their “sin.”  Sometimes they may even wrongfully blame themselves for the miscarriage because they believe it was God’s way of judging them for something they should never have done.

Conversely, a woman may only give you half the story in order to protect herself.  For example, I know a young woman very well who was the unfortunate recipient of a sexual assault which resulted in her pregnancy.  This woman lost her baby fairly early on, and has not told many people about it.  However, when she has occasionally opened up, she often classifies this solely as a miscarriage.  Although what happened was entirely not her fault, she still blames herself because of the double stigma she faces (not only the stigma of losing a child, but also of being raped) she would much rather just have people assume she intentionally had pre-marital sex than let them know the truth.  Therefore, it is important not only for church leaders, but for all Christians to not make judgement calls about a person’s pregnancy.  Resist any urge to point out the “sin” in someone’s life because we simply don’t know the full picture.

It is fine if someone is making a comment you disagree with related to pregnancy or infant loss to question it or even to word your response by saying “I’m not sure whether you or someone very close to you has lived through this, but…”  However, NEVER assume the person’s life hasn’t been touched or altered by this reality in some way.

#3: Encourage meaningful dialogue

The Western culture often believes things need to be a certain way and when they aren’t we try to hide from them.  For example, young people aren’t supposed to die, so we engage in the cult of youth and believe we are immortal.  Babies are supposed to grow up, be healthy, and lead productive lives as citizens of our fine country, so when a baby passes away we right away get our defense mechanisms up because we don’t want to admit that it could happen to us too.

Sometimes because of our own lack of understanding, our inability to wrap our minds around the tragedy, or our own uncomfortableness, we avoid the topic altogether.  However, what I have found is that most women actually heal quicker when they are given the space to be free to express their thoughts and emotions rather than when culture tells them to repress it.  If your friend is grieving but you personally have never experienced such a profound loss, it is entirely fair to tell your friend you don’t really know what to think or how to react.  However, it is even more important just to be there, to let her rant and rave if that’s what she wants to do, and to hold her and support her as she cries.  Avoid proof-texting and throwing Bible verses at her.  Don’t tell her everything’s going to be okay, because chances are it’s not.  Don’t remind her that she’s young and will have another opportunity to get pregnant because that child she lost is a unique one to her.  She may never have known him, but he still will always be a part of her.  Even if she has 7 other kids, that child she lost would have been completely different from the other 7.  Don’t encourage her to simply forget about her loss and move on with life focusing on her career or even trying to pursue adoption.  Life continues on with or without that child she carried in her womb, but so does the loss.  It may have happened 3, 4, or even 15 years ago.  You might think it no longer affects her, but on the child’s birthday it may still hit her full force.  She may go days without thinking about him, and then all of a sudden become an emotional wreck seemingly out of nowhere.  Don’t judge, don’t rush along the healing process because it is, after all, a process.

It is a terrible fact, but the majority of us will experience our lives being rocked by infant loss at one time or another.  It may not be our own loss (and I sincerely pray God will shield you of such a burden), but it might be a friend or family member’s loss or the loss of a child within our congregation.  Infant loss happens more frequently than we realize because of our cultural taboos which suppress our voices on the issue.  However, I urge you to become aware of people who may be experiencing this sad reality and to learn how to truly make your journey together.  It is indeed a privilege to be able to walk with someone through such a season of grief, but it also comes with a large amount of personal responsibility.  Books, DVDs, conferences, and other resources are helpful, but they only get you so far.  They make generalizations which are better than nothing, but they do not prepare you for the reality of actually having a friend or colleague open up in such a vulnerable way.  I pray that when such an experience arises, you may be able to hold their story gently, and to walk with them even when the road is rough and steep. images

 Post-Script: For purposes of this blog, I have stuck to the experience of the woman, however, it is also important to note the emotional, spiritual, and psychological impacts infant loss has the the father.  Both genders are affected when a child passes away and it is important to remember that. 

Also, the scope of this blog has looked at infant loss including miscarriage and abortion, however, it is important to note that there are many other complications related to both in different ways which I unfortunately did not have time to engage in.  Hopefully in another blog I may be able to pick up a bit more on the abortion piece and how this reality rocks a Christian’s worldview and how hope and healing is still possible even amidst great remorse and pain.  

 

Making a Case for The Message

16675_large  Two months ago, I decided to do something radical: I began using Eugene Peterson’s The Message as the basis for my daily devotionals.  At first I referred to this practice as “my daily dose of heresy” in a rather tongue-and-cheek type of way; however, now this particular interpretation has not only grown on me, but has become an incredible source of wisdom, insight, and spiritual nourishment.

Prior to reading The Message myself, I often faced a certain resistance towards the text.  Being a Biblical Scholar and fairly familiar with the ancient languages, I felt that Peterson’s work was highly lacking in Scriptural accuracy.  Additionally, many of my more Conservative friends were highly opposed to Peterson’s attempts to modernize and “jazz up” Scriptures.  However, the most profoundly immature response I have ever experienced towards Peterson or his writing happened at my university.  I remember in my second year, Tyndale decided to host Peterson for a conference.  Since it was during the student reading days, a few friends and I decided to spend the day in downtown Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).  Around 4pm, after a long day of sightseeing and eating delicious food, and right before the traffic got bad, we were walking back to campus, when we noticed some police cars out.  By that point, the riot had died down, but we were informed to go directly to our dorm rooms and not stand around and gawk.  Later that evening, we were told that some KJV only protesters were threatening Peterson, holding picket-signs suggesting he was the “Antichrist” and even jumping on the cars of those coming to hear his lecture.  Although I do realize that these crazy kooks are in the minority and most conservatives (although they might not agree with Peterson’s writings) would never act so juvenilely, it still set the precedence for me about how his work is interpreted by many as an unacceptable or “second rate” option to the true Scriptures.  However, in this blog post, I’d like to make the argument that there is a reason to read The Message, in fact there is more than one.

#1: The Message: A Scripture for When Scriptures are Inaccessible

Recently, I was reading Eugene Peterson’s description of why he created The Message and what he hopes it will be to its readers.  What I was initially struck by was his honesty in stating that The Message is NOT the only Bible out there, but rather it is a book of preference.  Peterson essentially writes, “Some like to read the Bible in Elizabethan language.  Others prefer a fresher, more vibrant option.”  This is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with reading Shakespearean writing.  Particularly with passages like the Psalms, the brilliant form of writing, the mechanics behind the grammatical structures, and the pastoral images the verses evoke are breath-taking and delightful.  Similarly, those in older generations who grew up with the KJV often may feel a sense of familiarity or comfort from reading that which brings them back to their first memories of Scripture.  On the other hand, there is a good case for saying that the KJV is out-dated, irrelevant, and as most Biblical scholars readily admit – not the most Scripturally accurate translation either.

When considering the needs of those around us – whether they may be a person with a disability, a youth, a young adult, or a child, whether they may be “un-churched” “semi-churched” or “re-churched” it seems clear to me that we need a different approach.  Trying to convince a young adult hipster who hasn’t gone to church since his christening, grew up in a nominal Christian family (if he could even call it that) and is only now trying to find his way back to the church to read a gigantic two thousand year old book will likely not only seem foreign, but even intimidating.  Especially if he does not have someone to help guide him while reading, he may easily give up on daunting chapters and outdated language.  Even though there are so many versions of the Bible out there, there is something quite unique to Peterson’s work.  Unlike other Bibles, his writing is clear and easy to read – even just in terms of the page layout.  You’ll often notice that when reading mainline Bibles, verses are disrupted right in the middle of sentences or key thoughts.  Actually, the idea of Bible verses would have been quite strange to the original interpreters as the ancient languages usually were written in a rather constant style with verses added later in order to more readily find a verse.  However, what I love about Peterson is that he divides his work into paragraphs.  This means that reading his work is more like reading a novel or a letter from God to us.  We don’t get so preoccupied with verses and chapters, but rather we can just read complete thoughts.

Another cool thing about Peterson’s writing is that he is a fairly dynamic and dramatic writer.  Reading his work still gives the inescapable flare of infallible Scripture, but it is done in a fun, light-hearted way.  Peterson also shows quite a high level of cultural sensitivity in his work without neglecting the core doctrines that Scripture provides.  One great example of this is when he writes about the role of women in the church.  Whereas, many other versions give the wrongful impression that women should have no leadership at all (which deviates significantly from the ancient languages), Peterson writes in a more open-minded way that presents the reader with the opportunity to form his or her own opinion while still looking at the socio-historical context.  Thus he softens the blow and encourages ownership from his readers while still continuing key themes in the Biblical narrative.

#2: The Message: A Scripture for the Weary Overly-Theological Soul

Those of you who are frequent viewers of this blog or who know me personally, know my story of how I gave up reading the Bible for 7 years (ironically, the length of time I was in Bible College and Seminary).  After graduating from seminary, I finally decided to try reading the Bible again, but I often felt unmotivated and resentful.  It’s not a matter of disbelief.  I still believed in God in the same way and interestingly I discovered my prayer life and my desire to be an active, evangelical Christian was increasing even while my desire to read Scripture decreased.  This may make me sound like an irresponsible Christian, but most of my problem lay in my inability to distance myself from my academic pursuit and to put on a more spiritual formation type of hat.  I once went on a Retreat in Daily Life where my spiritual director encouraged me to find other ways to tap into that more mystical side.  I tried all of them.  I tried listening to the Bible by audio, but I just got distracted.  I tried a variety of spiritual disciplines, but I still reverted back to Greek and Hebrew.  Eventually, I just gave up and put the Bible back on the shelf.

Fast forward to two months ago.  Since I started reading The Message my devotional life has greatly increased and even become a joy (instead of a burden) to me.  Reading Peterson’s work is like reading the Bible again for the very first time.  It’s given me a whole new spin – a completely different way to read all too familiar passages.  I have once again discovered the joy that new believers often face when they encounter the Bible for what it truly is.  I no longer dread my devotional times or simply see them as another box to check off on my to-do list, but rather I look forward to how I will be fed and nourished and in turn be able to nourish others.

Recently, I started spiritual direction with a good friend from Tyndale who is working on her MDiv.  In our last session I remarked that while I feel The Message is finally getting me back to a more regular rhythm of Scripture, I still am unsure about it because lots of my friends tell me it isn’t a true translation.  She wisely responded, “Well, you have the skills.  You have the education, you know what a good translation is and what it’s not.  Just remember: you’re doing your devotions for yourself not for anyone else.  If others disagree with your chosen method, that’s their business, but God knows your heart.  If it’s working for you, keep at it.”

If you’re longing for a Bible that doesn’t just engage your intellect, but also your heart – the seat of your emotions and that refuels the passion you once had but that has since gone stagnant, try reading The Message.  Open your heart up to the possibility that it can change your life, then see what happens.

 

#3: The Message: A Scripture for the Sin-Sick Yet Biblically-Bored Christian

Perhaps you are not a Bible-scholar and you don’t struggle with English or with reading, but you just feel bored and complacent: once again, try reading The MessageThe Message is perhaps the first Bible I have come across where reading Leviticus was mildly interesting (it was still rather bland, but much better than in several other translations I’ve read).  Peterson’s work often has a bit of a “punch” to it, and I love it not only because it’s poetic, but also because it’s practical and prophetic.  There is usually a message of what to DO in each passage.  When other Bibles bog you down with mere theology, this version has a bit of a “pop” a “pizazz.”  If you’re a worship leader or a preacher, consider reading a passage or two during a morning worship service and see if it add something to the congregation.  You may encounter some resistance, but more often than not I have found that what I was so hesitant to do at first has actually enhanced the overall feeling, ambience, or mood of those gathered.  Sometimes it even acts as a way to making church more accessible, welcoming, or engaging for visitors.  Just think how you would feel if you’ve never set foot in a church before and the pastor was reading from a Bible you could actually understand and get something from in modern 21st century English, rather than in something that sounded strangely like garbled up Latin.

#4: The Message: A Scriptural Supplement for the Actual Scriptures

Although I have found The Message to be a great addition to any theological bookshelf, it’s really only that: an addition.  Peterson himself did not intend for The Message to be the only Bible you ever read – he meant it as a supplement.  Unlike Word on the Street which clearly announces “this is a book, not a Bible,” The Message is classified as a Bible, but even then only really as a paraphrase.

When I studied preaching in university, we were taught to read at least 4 versions of Scripture in order to break-open the text and see what the Spirit was saying to us.  Among these 4 we often included: The KJV (since it’s the most readily accepted especially by elderly folk), a more common version that everyone is familiar with such as NIV or NASB, the Greek/Hebrew text (if you know the languages), and finally the Message (or a similar translation like the VOICE).  The reason we were told to read the Message is because it gives us a completely different feel, on the other hand, we would never be told just to break open the Message as a stand-alone option.

Here’s the way I see it, Eugene Peterson himself claims that the Message is NOT a study Bible, it’s a devotional Bible.  He doesn’t try to hide his intentions or make it out to be something it’s not.  Peterson actually is a brilliant language scholar himself – well versed in Biblical languages and his work reflects that careful analysis and painstaking labour of parsing verbs.  However, if you want to do an in-depth theological project or write a doctoral dissertation, The Message is not exactly what you’re after.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for a way to re-ignite your spirit, this might just be a great tool for you.

Eugene Peterson’s The Message is indeed a flawed translation written by a flawed man, but then again, if we were to be honest with ourselves, any translation is simply that – a translation.  If you speak more than one language fluently you know that it is nearly 100% impossible to give an absolutely direct interpretation of what the other person stated.  When words are transferred between languages, cultural idioms, figures of speech, mannerisms, and understandings we take for granted are almost certain to be lost (especially when the text is written).  Therefore, I’d urge you – please don’t dismiss The Message right away without even giving it a chance.  You may disagree with it after you’ve read it, and that’s fair.  But for now remember, God is using this Bible in many incredible ways especially to reach out to many people who would never have considered reading or owning a Bible before.  Be proud of the way God is moving and consider how you, too, can be part of this incredible Kingdom work.
You can read Peterson’s rationale for creating The Message here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Message-MSG-Bible/