on March 12, 2007
Like the authors write, when Jesus needed to think, meditate or relax, he headed into the wilderness. It's time Christians did the same. We all need to step back and relax and find ways to cut the clutter from our lives. Too busy? Head into the woods, turn your phone and computer off. Read this book. Make a list of things and activities in your life you can do without. Everyone should take a few days (or more) every year and head into the woods, go hiking or camping, sit by a lake somewhere and take a real break, not a busybody vacation. Everyone needs it. This book shows how many people over the ages found how important the outdoors are to their well-being. Don't be blind, get out of the city.
on March 8, 2006
As the authors rightfully say, there are many ways to seek God. Many people have an "aha" moment, or, in my case, a slow realization that God was behind me all along through my difficult life's journey. This jewel of a book offers differing perspectives of God ranging from Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine) - Therese of Lisieux - Pope John Paul II - Annie Dillard of Tinker's Creek - to the Holy Bible. Each page is worth pondering and reflection, something we need to do more of in today's hurry-up world. Take this book outdoors, as the authors suggest, or read it, as I did, on my front porch with the sun streaming down and the first crocus of spring popping up from the womb of the earth, which is really the womb of God. Who but the Lord could mastermind a universe of total order? Indeed, God is the greatest lover of all, constantly expanding this vast universe: One in which all things, both great and terrible, are allowed to happen, through his mysterious, imponderable vision.
on January 17, 2007
I don't think they use the word, but what Brady and Neuzil offer in their little book is an anthology of readings about creation and nature. Perhaps they use the word "meditation" instead because all the readings are short, almost never longer than one page and sometimes much less. In the introduction, then, they suggest that one read these many short texts in a deliberate, reflective fashion, rather than plow straight through them from beginning to end. In the introduction they offer seven different reading plans for week-long, weekend, or single-day trips.
Many of the readings come directly from Scripture, many others from a broad array of Christian writers as diverse as Wendell Berry and Annie Dillard to Martin Luther and Mother Teresa, while still others include non-Christian traditions like Thoreau, John Muir, Chief Black Elk, and Chuang Tzu. They organize the readings into five thematic chapters--on creation and the creator, the human place in creation, the notion of a "special spot" ("thin" places or times when God speaks to us in special ways), journey in the wilderness, and the broad purview of all God's creatures. The authors give little to no attention to the problem(s) of evil in creation (natural evil, which in some ways is more troublesome than moral evil that one can attribute to human free will), what Tennyson described as "nature red in tooth and claw," or to the bleaker implications of a materialist view of nature found in a Dawkins or a Dennett. But perhaps that is the way it should be for believers who confess that "God created the heavens and the earth" and then seven times declared His creation good. The readings direct us to important themes of human dependence, interdependence, gratitude, responsibility, hope, and purpose, all appropriate to those who confess with Paul that God is "clearly seen" in His creation when viewed through the eyes of faith.