N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-EyedWonder in God’s Spoken World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2009), 203 pages.
By its own admission, there is almost no need to classify this book. Is it about God’s presence in this world? Yup. Is it about the beauty and pain in this world? Yup. Does it contain a letter by Hamlet, Prince of Denmark? Yes. Does it have a lot to say about ants and snowflakes? It most certainly does. This is, after all, a book about someone who believes he is on a tilt-a-whirl. A perfect, spinning orb of a tilt-a-whirl.
N.D. Wilson’s book was, for me, a deep breath of fresh air. I spend a lot of time with what some call ‘serious’ books on philosophy, theology, history and so forth and I was drawn to the sense I got that this book doesn’t take itself seriously, but simultaneously takes its subject matter seriously. It delivered. While the chapters will often take their own routs around the subject matter, they all lead you to the end of the book. Wilson isn’t random in his “Notes,” but surprising, often humorous, and sometimes quite moving.
If I had to put the thesis of the book in a sentence it might be, “a hearty slap in the face to the problem of evil.” Wilson knows his philosophers and theologians. He does not neglect the age-old arguments and points of views on ‘either side’, but he does not take the strict philosophical tact to deal with this problem. He is interested in the story the world is telling, the roles we all play (and by “we all,” I mean to include earwigs, mayflies, naked mole rats, and fat rabbits), and what God is up to in all of it. He asks, “How could an all-good, all-powerful God allow evil in the world? Or, from a slightly different angle: how could an all-good, all-powerful God allow David Hume in the world?” (pg. 78)
Through his perspective on daily life and God in it, I found a deeply thoughtful reflection on what I would call relationship with God. His book inspired and encouraged me to take in more of the things around me from a different, God-saturated, point of view. When I got to the chapter on hell, the pastor and theologian within me was worried. It was wonderful.
I think this is a great book for encouraging a meaningful and daily trust in the God who really is there, and happens to be here as well.
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