Robert Petterson, prolific author, storyteller, and culture changer
Dr. Robert A. Petterson is the founder and president of the Legacy Imperative and is known as the “Amazing Storyteller” for his unique ability to unwrap the untold stories behind seminal people and events. His own story inspires as well. Bob and I have been friends and colleagues for almost 20 years. I have had the honor of experiencing his unique and captivating ability to touch the hearts and souls of people with his stories.
Born to a 15-year-old unwed mother who narrowly escaped abortion, Dr. Bob suffered through a succession of eight foster homes, caring for five younger siblings, until age 12 – when he was adopted into a loving home. Over his brief life, his foster parents were told that he should be institutionalized as mentally disabled – that he’d never amount to anything. But he proved them all entirely wrong!
Dr. Bob has been pastor at some of America’s leading evangelical churches; served as East Coast President of Mastermedia International, the world’s largest ministry to film and television executives; and hosts numerous inspirational pilgrimages. He regularly partners with non-profit organizations in fundraising and has raised over $75 million. He is in demand worldwide as a speaker and has addressed audiences of more than two million in 30 countries. Dr. Bob earned his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. He serves on various non-profit boards.
He's also a best-selling author. His One Year Book of Amazing Stories: 365 Days of Seeing God’s Hand in Unlikely Places, was chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of its 10 “Top Picks,” is now in its third printing, and was recently ranked by the Christian Book Association as one of the top five devotionals of 2020. His other books include the newly released 101 Amazing Stories of Hope and Faith, featuring the best of Dr. Bob’s acclaimed One Year Book of Amazing Stories, in an easy-to-give-and-carry size; Desert Crossings; Theater of Angels; Pilgrim Chronicles; Home for Christmas; and The 90-Day Book of Amazing Stories, in the top 10 percent of all book sales in its category in 2017.
What is your favorite Beethoven song (s) and why?
“I love Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. It is so powerful and raw. It captures such deep emotion. It is amazing to me, that though Beethoven was deaf that he could produce such extraordinary music that must have come from deep within his soul. Beethoven’s piano sonatas were a signature of who he was. Sonata #23, in particular, best capture the inner passion, sometimes anger, sometimes glorious peace. Because I know his story, I know the deep pain and anguish in his soul, all the sorrow he went through, all the relationships he probably destroyed in his life because of his anger, of his uncontrolled passion. To me, there is a sense of which I feel when I listen to it, the power of the storm, and raw emotion. I love that unbridled passion that’s in that Symphony.”
Beethoven’s music is a vehicle to bring people into the transcendence of God. What are your thoughts on the transcendence of God in the arts?
“I think Beethoven understood what everybody in that culture understood, that the ultimate end of everything was God, so the ultimate purpose of anything you did, whether art or government or anything, was to glorify God. It had a transcendent meaning. I think he believed as did most people of his time that the world was a shadow reflection of a heavenly reality. The lion was a picture of God, the King. I think that in that sense, he wrote music to reflect the God that he believed in.
I think God calls us to be honest; he calls us to share, to be real, to be authentic because God is real. God is authentic. God shares his heart. If you read the scriptures, he shares it when he is angry; he shares when he is happy and shares the depth of his distress and pain. It is in the thunder; it’s in the storms; it is in creation. The creation has all the elements of who God is because it reflects its Creator. Just as creation reflects its Creator, all art is a reflection of those who created it.”
"Beethoven understood that the ultimate end of everything was God, so the ultimate purpose of anything you did, was to glorify God."
How does Beethoven inspire you?
The Wounded Heart of an Artist
“Beethoven and I have a lot of the same background. His mother tried to abort him. He was an unwanted child born out of unhappiness and rape. I was born out of unhappiness. My mother tried to figure out a way to abort me. I was an unwanted child. He grew up unloved. His personality sometimes made him unlovable. He grew up a lonely child, a tortured child, and so did I. and how he inspires is that he was not afraid to express the deepest feelings.
His music touches people because it unlocks emotions that most people keep inside themselves. When you hear a Beethoven Symphony, and you hear the rage, the anger, the beauty the soaring spirit that is set free from its brokenness, I have a sense that probably the only time that Beethoven ever felt free from his wounds and could soar to the heavens was when he wrote his music. When I was a child growing up, it was escaping into the world of imagination that I could be real and so when I write my stories, I get to soar out of my brokenness, and I get to touch the lives of other people in their brokenness.”
Copyright 2020, William S. Barnett