It’s not everyday that you get to read an author who is so gifted with the craft that you don’t care what he writes about. I’ve felt that way with a few writers over my lifetime, some classic and some contemporary: Dylan Thomas, G. K. Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis among the classics; John Piper, E. B. White, and now N. D. Wilson among more contemporary voices. This book confirmed that truth for me. Wilson has a gift with words that makes him entertaining, insightful, rich, and relevant all at the same time.
Notes from a Tilt-a-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World is not a “normal” book. It’s organization is like several circular brushstrokes of paint. The author is gazing, hypnotized in wonder, at the world in which he stands. While there are several themes throughout the book (e.g., the centrality of God’s speech, concrete elements of creation, the problem of evil), it doesn’t dwell on any of them to the exclusion of others. The subtitle aptly characterizes the content: this is a book of wide-eyed wonder at a world that God has uttered, is uttering, and will utter until he wishes.
Here are some of my favorite lines.
- “Words. Magic words. Words spoken by the Infinite, words so potent, spoken by One so potent that they have weight and mass and flavor. They are real. They have taken on flesh and dwelt among us. They are us. In the Christian story, the material world came into existence at the point of speech, and that speech was ex nihilo, from nothing. God did not look around for some cosmic goo to sculpt, or another god to dice and recycle. He sang a song, composed a poem, began a novel so enormous that even the Russians are dwarfed by its heaped pages. You are spoken. I am spoken. We stand on a spoken stage” (23-24).
- “Why would any Christian claim that God has stopped talking? Did he speak the world into existence? Does matter exist apart from Him? Is it still here? Are you still here? Then He is still speaking” (31).
- “We are always on stage. We are always in a novel, and even when no other characters are around, the art continues. The Triune audience watches” (33).
- “Living makes dying worth it” (50).
- “Let the winter come. It is the only path to Spring” (58).
- “The world cannot exist apart from the voice of God. It is the voicings of God” (98).
- “There is no evil when [God] tells us to lay our first flesh down, no more than when he sends a caterpillar into its cacoon” (113).
- “When Christ rose, He rose in the flesh. He was no ghost, and yet He walked through walls. The walls were the ghosts, and so are we” (150).
- “Do not fear the shadowy places. You will never be the first one there. Another went ahead and down until He came out the other side” (155).
There’s plenty more, but those are some of my favorites. In the end, I think Wilson is especially talented when it comes to drawing out awe from readers, waking us up to see a world that is beautiful and strange and terrifying and glorious, a world that images the triune God.
If you haven’t read Wilson’s work before, I highly recommend it. I have read few others in our day who wield words so wonderfully.
Pick up your copy by clicking the image below. And enjoy!
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