After an appallingly-long, completely unintended hiatus, I’m finally back. So I thought I’d start with an easy one – an introduction to one of my new favourite books – and I haven’t even finished it yet!
I’ve had Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl on my Kindle for a couple of months, at the recommendation of my friend Mike. It was recommended to me again (and a few thousand other people) last week by my boss Jason, and I generally take notice of what he says. So I took the plunge.
It’s a brilliant book which wrestles playfully and joyfully with some big questions, expressing the sheer wonder and confusion of living in a fallen world made by God. It’s not really an art book, although it’s artfully written. But it’s a book which lays a crucial foundation for how we think about art and creativity, and in fact any other aspect of life as we cling to this moist, spinning ball of rock we call home.
Expect a lot of quotes from this book, but here’s one that really stuck out for me. At a conference last week I went along to a series of talks helping us to grasp the whole storyline of the Bible. It was helpful in lots of places, but we were repeatedly urged to look to a future which lies “beyond and above”, and to be cautious of anyone who would focus too much on this present world.
I left feeling pretty dissatisfied. I agreed with the speaker in lots of ways – I , But if we’re not careful we end up devaluing a creation which, although now damaged, God once said was “very good.” And we can imply a disconnected, ethereal future which makes this physical creation into a messy, distasteful business. And which doesn’t sound very appealing anyway. A view like that tiptoes dangerously close to Plato and Greek philosophy, and it’s pretty unbibilical.
ND Wilson gets us back on track.
“The world is beautiful, but it is badly broken. St Paul said that it groans, but I love it even in its groaning. I love this round stage where we act out the tragedies and the comedies of history. I love it with all of its villains and petty liars and self-righteous pompers. I love the ants and the laughter of wide-eyed children encountering their first butterfly. I love it as it is, because it is a story, and it isn’t stuck in one place. It is full of conflict and darkness like every good story. And like every good story, there will be an ending. I love the world as it is, because I love what it will be.”
By the way, my second favourite line is: “This poetry has testicles.” You’ll need to read it yourself for the context…