One more conference and then the world stops spinning. It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks! I am itching in every finger and brain cell to spend hours in writing out my thoughts regarding all that I have learned and seen; it will have to wait for just five more days. There’s a rich harvest of contemplation growing up in me! But I can share a few of the books I have discovered in the past week and though my opinions on them are not yet full formed, I can easily recommend all the below simply for the thought they stimulate. My favorites of late:
For the Glory of God
This book was assigned to me by Ranald Macaulay who is tutoring us in worldview every week. The author, Rodney Stark, argues that apart from a specifically Christian worldview we would never have known the age of science, the abolition of slavery, or the university as we know it. Which, in our culture, is a bold claim to make. Many of us have grown up hearing that the “Enlightenment”, especially as regards scientific discovery, happened in spite of the backwardness of the church and the confinement of Christian belief. Stark argues that it was specifically because of a strong belief in God that scientific discovery was able to flourish. Most of the famous scientists (think Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, etc.) were steadfast believers in a personal God who made mankind in his image to explore and understand the orderly creation within which he placed them. Fascinating read.
I’m in the midst of this right now. This is a loud cry for our modern, technologized world to evaluate whatever soul it retains. Tracing the history of technology and its rampant increase in the past couple of centuries, Neil Postman challenges us to see just how much of a hold technology has not just over our lives, but over the way we view and accept reality, humanity, and meaning. For me, this is the sort of book that grabs me at the soul level and drives me to challenge the cultural assumptions I so easily accept. I can’t wait to write about this one.
Life is A Miracle
I’m falling in love with the writing of Wendell Berry; you can expect to hear much more on him. But more on that later. I read this slim book about a month ago at L’Abri and was so captivated by his thought that I am determined to read it again first chance I get. The title really states the purpose of the book; to defend the idea of our human lives as intricate miracles made by God (the quote is from a line in King Lear), in opposition to the secular conception of humanity as merely a machine. The logical consequence of naturalism (the belief that the material world is all there is) is to view humans simply as the sum of their well-evolved parts to the exclusion of soul. It’s a cold view, a frightening view, and one that has major consequences. Berry valiantly challenges this belief while simultaneously affirming that we are indeed, each of us, created miracles, called to live in loving relationship with the God who made us, the people he created, and the earth in which he made us to live.
And I guess that’s going to have to do it for today. I must run down to the college to tape a session with our new speaker. (Joel heard the first session last night and is quite excited.) May you have rich thoughts today my friends and a lovely summer day in which to think them.