Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl was an excellent book, thanks to N.D. Wilson’s ability to describe everyday life events with an eye for the divine. Once I finished reading it, I was inclined to again take a careful look at the ordinary in search of the extra-ordinary.
Wilson’s writing style is captivating and he takes you on a journey that is full of imaginative imagery and captivating metaphor. In fact, there were times that I was so absorbed by his descriptive and creative language that I forgot to try and figure out where he was trying to go. This characteristic, which I consider a quality, may be to others a flaw. Be aware that you have to have some tolerance for randomness.
However, I don’t think he was trying to be random. If you read carefully, you’ll follow the lines and recognize how he gets from one thing to another to reach his destination.
Much of the book is an invitation to snap out of our small-minded view of the world and to see it as a playground built by God for his glory and enjoyment, a place that is brimming with all of God’s characteristics:
You are on your porch. Look at the blue sky.
God, am I going to get this sale today? The commission would pay for a boat.
Look at this squirrel, He says. Do you understand it? Do you know what it means? What does it tell you about me? Watch its tail snap. You’re the only one watching. You and I are alone in the audience sharing this scene. What does it remind you of?
I need this sale.
There’s an ant on your shoe. It’s a good ant. Last spring it turned the tide in the great Sidewalk Crack War of D Street. One of its grandfathers traveled half a mile with Louis and Clark. Did you know that today it dies? That you are its death?
I wish I had a new car. Hyundais are lame.
Wilson’s message in the book is an important one: God is trying to get through to us while we are busy chasing red herrings.
The only thing I did not appreciate about this book was how he handled the problem of evil. I was grateful for the way he helped us understand that we don’t know all there is to know about the cosmos. We don’t have God’s perspective and our view of things is fatally limited. However, when presenting this point he tended to belittle the pain of coming face to face with horrific personal tragedy.
I’ll discuss that part of the book’s message in my next post, because it’s a question that deserves some space to be talked through.
Overall, I recommend Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl, and think you will enjoy the ride, unless roller coasters make you puke. Even then, it may provide a healthy dose of enjoyment that will make it worth the dizzy feeling that may follow.