MU alum Paul Pastor has released volume one of his new book series entitled “The Listening Day: Meditations On The Way” (Zeal Books, 2017). “The Listening Day” is a collection of 90 devotional readings to help readers enter God’s passionate invitation to know him today. It will release in multiple volumes throughout 2017-18, and then be collected with bonus material and readings into a single year-long devotional. You can order “The Listening Day” on Amazon, Apple, Christianbook.com, Kindle or Kobo.
Until you can get your hands on a copy, Pastor answers our questions about “The Listening Day” and the unique vision behind it.
What compelled you to write “The Listening Day”?
We live in a Christian culture awash with information, but often lacking in formation — growing to be like Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I love information, and am a voracious reader. But I am haunted by the question of how our lives and world would change if Christians paired a vibrant life of the mind with a life of true imitation of Jesus.
Great, right? But here’s the thing: we can’t imitate Christ without listening to the Father. The Listening Day works to put the Father’s voice, as revealed through the Bible and the Spirit, into words spoken directly to you and me.
The Listening Day is written to cut through the distractions (yes, even the good distractions) of the Christian in today’s culture to recapture a rich, humble, beautiful devotion to God’s voice.
How might reading “The Listening Day” benefit the journey of a Christ-follower?
Great question! For starters, it will point them to the Bible — every single day. Each entry starts with two passages, some of which are familiar, and some of which are very obscure. I want the reader’s attention to cling to those words, and my entries are designed to bring them to life in some encouraging, challenging, or surprising way.
But besides that commitment to Scripture, The Listening Day will bring a creative, poetic angle to faith in daily life that I simply love. I’ve had many people say things like, “This is a devotional for people who don’t read devotionals,” or “I hate ‘devotionals,’ but I love whatever this is!” That speaks to me. I am not a reader of daily devotionals — not because there aren’t fine ones out there, but because most simply do not offer the richness, depth, quality, and theological vibrancy that I long for to point me to God.
The Listening Day offers a daily deep-dive into the Word and primes the heart to listen for God. It is often strange, and (I think) beautifully crafted. It will point Christians, daily, to the Lord.
What are your hopes for this book?
I hope that it touches the lives of many thousands. Specifically, I hope that it helps other hear God’s voice the way that I do in the Bible and through his Spirit.
For many of us, often because of how we were raised, God the Father tends to have a booming, borderline angry voice. We as Christians have largely adopted a vision of a Gary Larson “Far Side” God: old, curmudgeonly, beard-to-his-knees, and just waiting for us to mess up so he can arbitrarily smite, plague, or damn us.
While the Father has a ferocious side, it is always in the service of love and restoration. All-powerful? Yes! And also limitlessly merciful. Kind. Welcoming. One who runs to weep and feast with the returning prodigal. It’s that voice that speaks belovedness, welcome, and kindness (along with restoration, reproof, and longing for our true repentance) that comes through in these pages.
My hope? That people truly hear that voice, for themselves, and grow in their love for its Speaker.
How has Multnomah influenced your journey as a writer?
Profoundly. My writing — whether reporting, essay, non-fiction, or devotional — is deeply influenced not only by the subject matter of the Bible, but its style, imagery, poetry, mystery, and imaginative scope. Encountering the Bible through the lenses of my Multnomah professors — particularly Ray Lubeck, Domani Pothen, Doug Schaak, and Garry Friesen during his tenure — did not only deepen my knowledge of scripture, but my love for it — and the One who gave it to us.
Though I attended Multnomah before the English program began, many of my formative moments as a writer happened as a tutor for Pothen’s writing and literature courses, a lab instructor for Lubeck’s literature-oriented Bible Study Methods class, and an (I think) glorious one-off survey with Schaak of pretty much everything Herman Melville ever wrote (a daunting, life-changing class).
I’m grateful for those experiences. They didn’t just educate my fact-holding mind; they helped form my imagination. I felt free to pursue excellence in prose and poetry (a lifelong journey), combining seemingly unrelated themes from across my studies into some kind of cohesive whole that both inspired my spirit and expressed my growing self-expression as an artist who happens to have a pastoral call too.
You can learn more about Paul J. Pastor on his website, pauljpastor.com.