Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making – Andrew Peterson

Adorning the Dark Andrew Peterson
Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making by Andrew Peterson
Published by B&H Publishing on October 15, 2019
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Christian Life
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four-half-stars

Making something beautiful in a broken world can be harrowing work, and it can’t be done alone.   Over the last twenty years, Andrew Peterson has performed thousands of concerts, published four novels, released ten albums, taught college and seminary classes on writing, founded a nonprofit ministry for Christians in the arts, and executive-produced a film—all in a belief that God calls us to proclaim the gospel and the coming kingdom using whatever gifts are at our disposal. He’s stumbled along the way, made mistake after mistake, and yet has continually encountered the grace of God through an encouraging family, a Christ-centered community of artists in the church, and the power of truth, beauty, and goodness in Scripture and the arts.   While there are many books about writing, none deal first-hand with the intersection of songwriting, storytelling, and vocation, along with nuts-and-bolts exploration of the great mystery of creativity. In Adorning the Dark, Andrew describes six principles for the writing life:  serving the workserving the audienceselectivitydiscernmentdisciplineand community  Through stories from his own journey, Andrew shows how these principles are not merely helpful for writers and artists, but for anyone interested in imitating way the Creator interacts with his creation.   This book is both a memoir of Andrew’s journey and a handbook for artists, written in the hope that his story will provide encouragement to others stumbling along in pursuit of a calling to adorn the dark with the light of Christ.  

Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author with a passion for helping fellow Christian artists glorify God with their talents. In Adorning the Dark, which is part memoir and part reflection on creative work, Peterson shares stories from his career and family life to illustrate lessons that can help others feel seen, encouraged, or steered towards a better path. He is humble and honest about his mistakes, gives credit to others who have influenced his career and walk with Christ, and shares practical advice and spiritual wisdom.

I have followed Peterson’s career for several years, but this book is accessible to anyone. He writes folk-style music that gets minimal radio airtime, so he approaches this book with the expectation that many readers will not be familiar with his work. I found his personal stories all the more interesting because he is not a major celebrity, and because of his outsider status in the Christian music world, he has an interesting perspective on the industry. However, even though he prioritizes honest lyrics and personal style over marketability, he writes about this part of his experience without any smug superiority.

A highlight of this book is Peterson’s consistent balance and generosity towards others. He never takes advantage of his public position to convey his subjective opinions as truth, and he provides lots of room for differing interests, styles, and creative preferences. He also avoids any hint of elitism about art, explaining that there is no special class of human called a “creative.” Because God made us in His image, we can all glorify Him, enjoy life, and bless others through creative work, whether we express that through writing, painting, singing, gardening, home-decorating, child-rearing, or anything else. I found this book very interesting, encouraging, and helpful, and highly recommend it to others.

four-half-stars