The subtitle to Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, “Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World,” (received through Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program) is a very apt description of this book written by N.D. Wilson. Although the analogy of the common fairground ride is the starting point for describing the world around us, more analogies, metaphors and colorful descriptions fill the book in Wilson’s feeble attempt to describe both the wonder of creation and the glory of the Creator. I say “feeble” because that is exactly how Wilson would describe it. Take the following excerpt for example:
“Ants are easy to describe. They have six legs. But what words do I have to capture the transcendent? The truest description I conceive is sure to have a false side. Which of these twenty-six letters should I use to try and shape you a bust of the Infinite?
Shall I tell you a poem about footprints in the sand?
Should we talk about spheres, about spinning, about war, about philosophy, about children and insects and soil and tombstones and stars and antimatter? It is not enough. [this is about as succinct a description of what he includes in this book as you can get.]
When the Artist set Himself to this same task, naked mole rats happened. So did haiku, Saturn’s rings, the three forms of water, fire, Greek people, and the occasional egg-laying mammal.
This is a task that God Himself cannot complete. He is infinite…and so His canvas is forever expanding….This is the only true challenge for the Infinite. Anything else is as easy as speaking. This is the only struggle for the Infinite, the only resistance He will ever meet.
The best of all possible tasks for the best of all possible Beings.”
The book is unlike any other book I’ve read. Imagine if you will John Piper, Willy Wonka and Billy from Family Circus all thrown together into one person and you’ll come close to N.D. Wilson. His writing style seems very “stream-of-consciousness” and while he has a point, it’s easy to lose him every now and then. Like Billy, he eventually gets to his destination but not without being easily distracted. Throughout the book though, he is awestruck by the glory of God and wants to pull everyone aside in his unorthodox, sometimes irreverent manner to join him in his reverie. But it is this constant “wide-eyed wonder” that will leave you breathless, laughing, and dumbfounded at the sheer amazement of the world and the God whose glory is only dimly reflected in it. (4/5 stars)