Christian musician comes to CSF

By Mary Duffy

Every year the Christian Student Fellowship puts on a Psalm(ish) Night where instead of a spoken sermon, a singer, songwriter and storyteller will perform for students.

On Thursday night, at 8 p.m., Andrew Peterson will perform at the CSF building for free. Peterson writes all of his work himself and plays acoustic guitar.

“People know the CSF because of the water balloon fight at the beginning of the year or pancakes on Friday nights,” Brian Marshall, CSF’s director said. “But we wanted to give students a chance to hang out and listen to good music and hear an honest story.”

Peterson says that he is deeply influenced to share his happiness.

“When I hear and see art it influences me on a deep level and it affects the thoughts and joy I have,” Peterson said. “It gives us a sense that there is something great and mysterious out there. A feeling that God has swept us up. When I tell my story, I hope that the audience can believe something they couldn’t believe before.”

Marshall said Peterson has an uncanny ability to tell a story.

“(Peterson) just has this amazing ability to turn small stories into a gigantic picture,” Marshall said.

Marshall believes that Peterson is the best Christian lyricist.

“I love his storytelling. I’ve discussed this with other people and we agree that he’s the best Christian lyricist in the country. He doesn’t set God apart from life. He sings about human nature and I thought I’d love to have him do that live. I love his humility and how he lives a life with God.”

Peterson’s latest album “Counting Stars” was No. 5 on Christianity Today’s top albums of 2010.

“I think that it only really mattered because more people heard my music,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s artistry is driven not by money and fame, but by impacting the lives of others.

“What drives me is a sense of satisfaction,” Peterson said. “I want to move people. I want people to cry. I want to inspire 20 more people to buy the record.”

Music isn’t Peterson’s only project. He’s written a series of books called the Wingfeather Saga.

“I love stories and I was kind of a nerdy kid in junior high school. I read a lot. I cared a little too much about music and movies, but I was more interested in guitar than writing stories for a living,” he said.

Peterson’s wife of 16 years and his three kids inspired him to start writing stories.

“I’m always reading stories to them at night and in doing that it made me feel like I was 12 years old again. I was so moved by how the stories moved them.”

It was a famous author who helped Peterson develop a stronger love for Christ.

“I’ve always been a C.S. Lewis fan, Peterson said. He, more than any other person, has helped me love Jesus. He helped me think about Jesus in a whole new way. Look at Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. I’m also a big Tolkien fan. I was intrigued by the fact that they were friends.”

Lewis and Tolkien would always drink at this pub in Oxford sharing stories, critiquing each other and laughing with friends. Peterson visited this pub while in England on tour.

“When I was in Oxford I sat in the backroom. This room was the Rabbit Room and I decided to create this replica, this online place to share and explore ideas and what happens when you gather with Christ to share adventures,” Peterson said.

When Peterson takes the stage he says he has a tendency to over share.

“I’ve never had a hard time going on stage, peterson said. Frederick Buechner once wrote, ‘the story of one of us is the story of us all.’

“What I believe is that there is a great darkness in the world. God is trying to hold back that darkness. What I want to do is go into the darkness with beautiful things and I want to shed light on the darkness,” Peterson said.

Peterson welcomes people of all walks of life to come listen to his music with an open mind.

“No one is allowed to dance,” Peterson says about his audience at his shows.

“I’m only joking. Whomever comes to see me play is fine with me. What I hope is that the audience comes willing to listen. Come with an openness, and that applies to every nook and cranny of life. Stories are all around you. Around every corner is grace.”