The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2019
Surprised by Paradox:
The Promise of “And” in an Either-Or World
Jen Pollock Michel
Paperback: IVP Books, 2019
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Surprised by Paradox teaches us to lean into our bewilderment and, in it, to find occasion for praise. Christianity is complex; this makes it beautiful. [To] consult Chesterton: “Paganism had been like a pillar of marble, upright because [it was] proportioned with symmetry. Christianity [is] like a huge and ragged and romantic rock, which, though it sways on its pedestal at a touch, yet, because its exaggerated excrescences exactly balance each other, is enthroned there for a thousand years . . . This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy.” Our faith is knotty and fantastic and mystifying, and for these things we hold it dear.
The paradoxes of Christianity are our veils and velvet curtains and rocky clefts: they set boundaries on our human understanding. But mysteriously— paradoxically, one might say—though they limit us, they at the same time open our minds to the enormity of the God waiting on the other side. Though they limit us, they heighten our remaining faculties to perceive the Lord in other ways. Who should read this book, then? The new Christian, the longtime Christian, the born-into-the faith Christian who worries that she can’t understand the “tangles” of Christianity. Complexity is not a dragon to be slain but a Beauty to be embraced, for it hints to us of things higher and deeper and wider than we can yet grasp. Things waiting beyond the curtain. Things we shall see face to face.
– from our review by Caroline White
in our Eastertide 2019 magazine issue
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