Archives For Wonder

 

At the Heart of Biblical Faith?

 
A Review of 

Sacred Sense: Discovering the Wonder of God’s Word and World
William P. Brown

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Debbie Philpott
 
 

Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

 
 

When reading William P. Brown’s In Sacred Sense: Discovering the Wonder of God’s Word and World, I was reminded of an encounter with an Old Testament scholar and chaplain whose longing touches me still.

A few years ago, I engaged in a one-on-on conversation with the chaplain as part of the standard interview process for professorship at a traditional Christian university campus.  Ours was a phone interview due to the distance between us and the timing of the interview.  He asked many of the standard questions for which I had already prepared a response—questions regarding my testimony and my beliefs, and how my beliefs aligned with those of my potential future employer.  Nearer the end of our lighter conversation, he asked a final question that I found troubling, then and still.

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This is an extraordinary book about the wonders of our human bodies!

“A sober and beautiful book about the landscape of the human body: thought-provoking and eloquent.”
—Hilary Mantel

Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum
Gavin Francis

Hardback: Basic Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

This delightful TEDx talk will give you a tiny taste of the magic of this book…
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Regaining the Spirit of a Child in Adulthood

A Review of

Like A Child: Restoring the Awe, Wonder, Joy and Resiliency of the Human Spirit
Timothy Mooney

Paperback: Skylight Paths, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Alicia Smock

 

As the years pass, every person goes through the same, almost seemingly cursed, transformation. In the beginning of their lives, children want the years to fly by so that they may become grown-ups. When those years have passed and adults are wondering where the time has gone, they would do anything to turn the clock back and become a child again.

Of course, all adults are knowledgeable of the fact that one cannot build a time machine and return to childhood. However, there is a way to become like a child once again and that is to unlock the inner child-like spirit hiding within every adult. Rev. Timothy J. Mooney has explored this in further detail by researching the Bible, well-known people of the past, people he has met throughout his life, and through his own experiences, compiled in his new book Like A Child: Restoring the Awe, Wonder, Joy, and Resiliency of the Human Spirit.

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Here are three Advent poems by Madeleine L’Engle…

You can also read her well-known Advent poem “After Annunciation” here

* * * Books by Madeleine L’Engle

 

 

Ready for Silence

From The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle [ Kindle ]

 

 


Next
Poem:

The Birth of Wonder

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“Art Work/Soul Work”

A Review of
Awakening the Creative Spirit:
Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction
(A Spiritual Directors International Book)

Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman

Reviewed by Margaret D. McGee.


Awakening the Creative Spirit:
Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction
(A Spiritual Directors International Book)
Christine Valters Paintner and Betsey Beckman.
Paperback: Morehouse Publishing, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

AWAKENING THE CREATIVE SPIRIT - Paintner / BeckmanWhen fear stops the tongue, or grief envelops the soul, or a period of transition makes the way ahead appear dark and confused, a healthy way to deal with chaotic emotions is to make them into art. By giving painful experiences and scary feelings external shape and form, making art also makes a safe place to integrate those experiences and feelings into the whole of life. Similarly, a time of joy or fulfillment can be embodied in a piece of art, making whole and real what might otherwise be just a fleeting moment, quickly lost.

Trouble is, many of us don’t see ourselves as artists, or as having more than one or two ways to express our creativity. In Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction, Christine Valters Painter and Betsey Beckman offer a variety inviting paths into creative expression as soul work. Ostensibly addressed to spiritual directors working with individuals and groups, Awakening the Creative Spirit will be useful to pastors, retreat leaders, therapists, educators, or anyone who offers spiritual care to others and wants to use expressive arts in their work.

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“Seeking that which Seems Beyond All Language

A Review of
The Sublime.
Simon Morley, ed.

Reviewed by
Brent Aldrich.

The Sublime.
Documents of Contemporary Art Series.

Simon Morley, ed.

Paperback: MIT Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

SUBLIME - Simon Morley, ed.Edmund Burke, writing in the 1700s in his essay ‘On the Sublime and Beautiful’ describes several marks of the Sublime, first among them the sense of Terror, followed by Obscurity, Power, Privation, Vastness, Infinity, Difficulty, and Magnificence. It is a state marked by astonishment, specifically with Burke in the landscape or painting and literature about the same; in other words, a way of making the indescribable describable. Although having read this essay and others like it before, the full effect of the terror Burke stresses in the sublime hadn’t taken shape for me until recently, watching over and over the first 30-second video clip of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. This is a frightful image in its murky greenness. And the scope of what this simple video loop suggests is nearly beyond the capacity to describe. It certainly follows several of Burke’s qualifications of the sublime – the terror of the scope, the obscurity and privation of the bottom of the ocean, the suggestion of infinity – but it also raises even more questions in regard to what a particularly contemporary sublime might encompass. Many of these themes are raised in The Sublime, edited by Simon Morley, and the latest installment of the Documents of Contemporary Art series.

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“Explaining the Magnificence of the Universe

A Review of
The Seven Pillars of Creation:
The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder.

by
William P. Brown
.

Reviewed by David E. Anderson.


The Seven Pillars of Creation:
The Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder.

William P. Brown
.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

Seven Pillars of Creation - William BrownScience and religion are strange bedfellows along the lines of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in the movie The War of the Roses. The family dog is safe, but both parties are going at each other red in tooth and nail, and it’s just a matter of time before the chandelier crashes down on them.

Columbia Theological Seminary professor William Brown says that this dysfunctional relationship that we find nowadays between science and religion doesn’t have to be that way. Rather than look around us at our current messy state of global affairs—pollution, climate change—or back at the long and often sorry history of humankind’s rape of nature—not infrequently justified by religion—and exclaim “The horror!” we should gaze at our world with a different mind-set and rejoice at the wonders of creation. According to Brown, science and religion may not explain the magnificence of the universe in the same words, and at times their explanations may clash, but they share a transcendent goal.

Brown fervently believes that science and religion need not be at each other’s throats: “Is science really hell-bent on eroding humanity’s nobility and eliminating all sense of mystery? Not the science I know. Is faith simply a lazy excuse to wallow in human pretension? Not the faith I know. What if invoking God was a way of acknowledging the remarkable intelligibility of creation?” His goal in this wide-ranging study is a simple one: “I want to bring together two distinct disciplines, biblical theology and modern science, and explore points of conversation in ways that I hope generate more synergy than sparks. My conviction is that one cannot adequately interpret the Bible today, particularly the creation traditions, without engaging science.” Brown’s methodology is straightforward: (1) “Elucidate the [Biblical] text’s perspective on creation within the text’s own contexts.” (2) “Associate the text’s perspective on creation with the perspective of science.” And (3) “Appropriate the text in relation to science and science in relation to the text.”

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“Marvel”
Liberty Hyde Bailey

(From WIND AND WEATHER: POEMS
Doulos Christou Press, 2008 edition)

Ah, the wonders I have seen
At dawn and sunset and between!

The ocean beach on wild midnights
Deep steaming swamps and northern bights
The cirrhus clouds in high moonlights
The magic calm of tropic seas
The nameless sails at distant quays
The long long walks on lonely strands
Dead vacantness of desert lands
The constellations in new skies
The rounding landscape’s million dyes

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POET
Tell me, O Poet, where thou dost live
Show me the place whereon thou dost stand
Lead me to the crests that give
Those wondrous scenes thou dost command
And let my waiting soul enwreathe
The rarer airs that thou dost breathe
Upon thy diamond shore.
He took me by the hand
And led me to my own hearthstone
We paused upon the wonted floor
And silent stood alone—
Till all the space was over-pent
With a magic wonderment;
And I found the Poet’s store
On the threshold of my door.

POET
Liberty Hyde Bailey

Tell me, O Poet, where thou dost live

Show me the place whereon thou dost stand

Lead me to the crests that give

Those wondrous scenes thou dost command

And let my waiting soul enwreathe

The rarer airs that thou dost breathe

Upon thy diamond shore.

He took me by the hand

And led me to my own hearthstone

We paused upon the wonted floor

And silent stood alone—

Till all the space was over-pent

With a magic wonderment;

And I found the Poet’s store

On the threshold of my door.

(From Wind and Weather:  Poems.
Reprinted Doulos Christou Press, 2008)

 

“Wonder, Gratitude and Guilt”

A Review of
The Pleasures and Sorrows Of Work.
by Alain de Botton.

 Reviewed by Ragan Sutterfield.

 

The Pleasures and Sorrows Of Work.
Alain de Botton.
Hardback: Pantheon, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

The odd thing about the modern world is how little of it we think about.  We wake up under sheets manufactured in some unknown place like Mauritius, we drink coffee shipped from Latin America or Africa or Asia, we sit down to work using hundreds of bits of software and hardware that someone, somewhere created, marketed, sold, transported, bought, placed, and sold again.  And yet we think very little about who created these things and all of the people and places involved in bringing them to us.

Our own work is often a part of this same vast system in which we play one small part in a process that is far bigger than any one of us.  Unlike the workers of generation ago we usually never meet the people who made what we sell or buy what we made.  This reality has created an extremely efficient economy, creating wealth and commerce on levels never seen before, but at the same time our work has increasingly become disconnected from the very realities and interactions that make work meaningful and fulfilling.

In his new book The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work Alain de Botton delves deeply into the realities of modern labor and the complex and often alienating economy we find ourselves in.  His approach is one of unveiling the hidden undercurrents of our society and that exploration works not unlike Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time in the way in which it opens up the mind to the deeper realities of our everyday lives.  The book is accompanied with excellent photographs throughout by Richard Baker that help to punctuate and illustrate the exploration.

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