Paul Vander Klay
September 15, 2010
Thanks for this review, Paul. A book I'll want to read. I'm reviewing a book called This Ramshackle Tabernacle by Sam Martin. It's an awesome collection of short stories in which God is everywhere, in the thunder and rain, in the papers ripped from the Our Daily Bread devotional book that a despairing man uses to roll his cigarettes, in the crucifix shadow of a hydro pole. The theme of God's presence all around us is my favourite one to write about. Nonetheless, we can only do so humbly, always admitting that our vision is blurry and we are prone to problems in our perceptual processing. That's why I like and agree with your cautionary remark about community and accountability.
I suspect that part of the difficulty lies in our tacit understanding of general revelation that God only speaks some times or in some places. In this way, Nature becomes a parallel book to the Bible and we so we can certain "lessons."The other path with this is to think of the world as suffused with God's glory. If I had but eyes to see, the tapeworm, the paperclip and broken pavement would themselves also testify to God's glory and purpose in the world. Ah, "if I had but eyes to see." (In some measure, there is the great speech of the devil in Updike's Witches of Eastwick picks up on this theme.).If the world is in fact suffused with glory, then the problem is our eyes. Or in the words of Abraham Heschel, our failure to appreciate the wonder about us. This understanding also has the impact of removing our ego from the process: we do not control what we see, we are but those gifted. Our question is what we do with the wonder we know and see.As I told my students this morning, the difference is that for the Christian this wonder has a name, it is not unknown, but shown in the face of Christ Jesus.
I admire John's work and appreciate this post. At times I worry that John is trying to add a third category of divine revelation: in addition to special revelation (through Scripture) and general revelation (through Nature), there seems to be a third category of revelation through Culture. (And you thought getting some Christians to reconcile just those first two was hard!) Now if you take culture to be sort of a sub-category of nature, a way that we create in the image of the Creator -- as Al Wolters maybe does in Creation Regained, and as I almost did (but tried not to) in my book Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, then maybe you can safely get to that third category (or accept it as category 2.5 or something). I'm not quite there. But I'm open to the discussion.
thanks Bill, you captured something I couldn't recognize until you put words to it. John and his book are all about wonder. John is a complex guy and his complexity is revealed in the book. Sometimes when one witnesses this much gushing about wonder we who are cynical are prone to suspect he gets there on the cheap, that he fails to see the loss, the tragedy, the pain. That suspicion is laid to rest early in the book but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The first part of the book made me cry. pvk
I do not even know you but you have a way with word you are truly a child of god. The light in you sure shines through omg where ever you going in jesus i want to follow you wow you are so amazing to me iin god grace amen brother you are bless stay that way.
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