Artist Soul? Book for Times of Doubt & Uncertainty - "There will be butterflies." A Review of Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson

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If you are an artist, or have the soul of an artist... if you are disenchanted with church-going and religion, and the usual slogans and anthems bandied about therein... if you are tired of seeing the world as hum-drum and painful... then you should put Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World by N.D. Wilson on the top of your reading list.  In a full-bodied, richly-colored discussion of everything from the nature of reality to the problem of evil, Wilson manages to paint an impressive panorama of life, death, and a decent chunk of everything that lies in between. It is intelligent, it is insightful, and it is beautiful.

The author aims high with this book, but in something of a non-traditional way; he intends to use words "as paint, spreading them on canvas instead of on paper." He wants "to write to the body and the senses as well as the mind." Largely, he succeeds; Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl is a collage of impressions, logic, memories, thoughts, philosophy, and distant times and places. It is a fun ride, but the title is honest... parts of the book may well leave you dizzy and breathless. You should strap yourself in before embarking on this journey, and you may be risking a little motion sickness.  But it will be a lot of fun, if you like the whirling, twirling, adrenaline type thing, and unlike ordinary carnival rides you might disembark with a different lens for looking at the world, and perhaps even an entirely new paradigm for reality.

However, the ride might particularly be a hard one for you if you're already a bit spiritually queasy. In fact, if you're in a place of struggle and uncertainty, then I would probably advise you to skip the chapter "Unwomb the World" altogether. Why? Because though the destination of the book is beautifully truthful and heartening, the author is also honest about the experience of hardship and the process of wrestling through the lies and ugliness and fear that life on this planet involves. It is easy to get bogged down in that, and stop reading... spending more time wallowing in the dark and queasy moments then in the reality of justified hope and faith. If you pick up the book (and I hope you do!) and find this to be true for you, then use it instead as motivation to keep reading. Recognize that the author has felt all you are feeling, and that the book was written because the experience was a deception, not a conclusion. If you have patience to keep plodding through a narrative that might reflect the darkest corners of your mind just a little too well, then you will be rewarded. Wilson walks you out of that darkness and into the bright sunshine of a day-to-day that is also glorious, if you can have eyes to see it, and the bracing reality that what will finally await us is joyous beyond anything we can anticipate. The ultimate message of the book is aptly stated about half-way through:

"You have been born into a narrative, you have been given freedom.
Act, and act well, until you reach your final scene."

Is that comforting to you? It is to me. It acknowledges all the variances of life, all the snafus and pitfalls and agonies... and yet also embraces an ultimate structure. There is purpose, and there is freedom to act and move and change reality. Wilson goes on to describe that "final scene" thusly:

"When we die, wherever or whenever that might be, there will be other characters in the story with us, evil characters, good characters and confused ants. But God is also there, shaping the story, off the stage and on the stage, closing a chapter as a turtle bounces, and smiling as it does. To His eyes, you never leave the stage. You do not cease to exist. It is a chapter ending, an act, not the play itself. Look to Him. Walk to Him. The cocoon is a death, but not a final death. The coffin can be a tragedy, but not for long. There will be butterflies."

That is a paradigm, and a reality, that I can accept and even thrive within, despite pain and trouble. To the King, and to the restoration of his Kingdom! Thrive on, fellow kingdom-dwellers, and act out your part on this planet with wonder and joy.

-- This post was originally posted on another blog that I started and kept up for about five minutes, and have since scrapped.  But I didn't want to scrap this book review along with it!  So here ya go.  ;)



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31 comments

  1. This sounds really interesting - the title was what really intrigued me (a favorite ride). Thanks for your review!

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    1. It is a fun title, I agree! Thank you for stopping by!

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  2. Sounds really interesting! Blessed to be your neighbor at Coffee For Your Heart today.

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  3. I like this, and I like the way you put things...so, I've subscribed.

    We are indeed born into a narrative. Sometimes it's confusing...my world turned upside down when I developed a terminal illness and lost my academic career, but it seems there are other things to do...like show that life is still good, even when you're walking along the edge of the abyss. And show that dying isn't "all about me" - it's about those who care for me, and whose stories will go on when I've ceased driving them nuts and have moved on to being a plague on God's peace and quiet.

    Yeah, and I found you from 3DLessons4Life, so you can blame Lyli.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-human-oasis-blogbattle.html

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    1. I'll thank Lyli, more like! ;P And thank you for subscribing! I am so very sorry to hear about your illness. I basically went onto your blog and started crying -- thank you for sharing your amazing perspective with the rest of us. I look forward to learning from you!

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  4. Sara Eliza, it's so lovely to "meet you" through Thought-Provoking Thursday today! I am a major book nerd, so this post was right up my alley. Thanks for sharing a good read with us.

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    1. So glad to meet you too! I enjoyed the party -- looking forward to getting to know y'all better in the future. :)

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  5. okay, adding this to my "to read" list. Thanks for linking up to the Book Review Blog Hop

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! Come back and let me know what you think!

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  6. Thanks for linking up with Literacy Musing Mondays! You were our most clicked this week with a record number of clicks! Congrats. I will feature this post in this week's linkup which goes live Sunday at 6 p.m. :)

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    1. WOW! That means so much to me! And thank you for hosting!

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  7. What a beautiful post. I appreciated your warning for those in a bad place to either skip a chapter or keep wading through! Well done. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!
    Tina

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    1. Thanks so much! And thank you for hosting. ;) Be back soon hopefully!

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  8. I think it is wonderful when authors apply their real life struggles that they go through to encourage others. Thanks for sharing this wonderful review with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope you will link up again this week :)

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    1. Yes, its such a relief to know you're not alone, and that others have been through difficult places too. Thank you for coming to visit!

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  9. Aha! Glad to have found another reason to like you! I follow Christ as well.
    I get motion sick really easy, so might have to skip this one. But I'm glad to hear he perseveres thru the pain and darkness into His marvelous Light!
    Melinda

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    1. :) He's the best! (not to sound flippant there... but He is!)

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  10. Thank you for sharing your book review with everyone at the Pinterest Game. Best wishes and come play again next week!

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  11. Thank you for joining my motivation Monday link up. This book sounds really good, I might need to check it out for some extra motivation and pushes to get past those difficult moments in life

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    1. There are plenty of those moments, right? Glad if this book can help a little bit!

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  12. Love the name of your blog and the interesting name of the book you reviewed.

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  13. Stopping by from Intentional @ Home Link Up. This book is one my to-read list, along with a bajillion others :) Thanks for the review. I am almost always blessed (or challenged) by anything the Wilson family puts out.

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    1. Oooh I haven't read anything else by a Wilson that I know of... I'll have to look the others up! Thanks for coming by Kara!

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  14. This has been on my to-read list forever! I need to carve some time and read it.

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    1. My to-read list is soooo long too.... but we kind of like it that way, right? :P

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  15. Off to put this on hold at the library...

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    1. Oooh did your library have it? How fun! I was wanting to reread it and my library where I live now doesn't have it. =/ MIght need to buy a copy...

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  16. Thanks so much for joining The Pinterest Game with the pin to this post. All the best. We hope to see more of your pins on Friday.

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