Thursday, July 9, 2009

Review: Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson explores our Universe, from snowflakes to weather to ants, with wonder and awe at their creation and their purposes. But he doesn't stop at the awe and creation of our Earth's plants and animals, but goes on to seriously explore poetry, physics, gravity, good and evil, sunsets and darkness, and so much more through a stream of consciousness style. At times the author lost me on the point he was trying to make, but that did not derail my ride at all. I couldn't choose a favorite excerpt from the book, but to give you an idea of N.D. Wilsons' wide-eyed wonder at our world, I chose this excerpt:

"Snow is so overused. One sentimental, overly structured ice flake might have some value. But God never seems capable of moderation or of understanding the basic concepts behind supply and demand. He constantly devalues His own products. Give me one flake, a cool room, and a magnifying glass and I will admire its artistry. But right now, I'm sitting by my window on a Christmas night, staring out at winter wastefulness in the extreme. Miles of clouds, clouds larger than states, have turned into crystal stars and now streak silently past my window to their deaths. Well, not quite silently. The stars are falling fast enough that if you step outside, like I just did, you can hear the whisper of collisions and delicate frozen impacts, each six-pointed perfection complaining as it arrives-

"They told me I was special. There's two and a half bazillion of us in this hedge and more falling. Does anyone here care about overpopulation? A market crash? Close the sky. Lobby for a moratorium."

But the storm-whispers sound more pleased to me. Excited even-

"I knew I was different from the rest of you plebes. Look how silly and gothic you all look with your skinny, knobbed arms. I'm unique. Neoclassical."

Try counting the flakes. Really count them. I'll step back outside for a quick estimate. Let's be conservative. Assuming that we're in the middle of this storm and it only stretches ten miles in each direction (Ha, says the weather man), and assuming that the storm is a tiny one hundred feet tall, and skipping the preexisting ground accumulation, and eyeball estimating the frenzied blizzard's air content at a meager ten flakes per cubic foot, then we are looking at about ... 11,151,360,000,000 flakes in the air above a small patch in Idaho at one particular moment on Christmas night at the end of the year 2007. Just this storm, this tiny little slice of winter could divvy out seventeen hundred flakes to every person on this planet. More impressively, that number has the US national debt beat by trillions."
And this one...
"I have an olive on my desk. It is a product of Spain. It was grown on a tree. Which means that the chlorophyll in the olive leaves absorbed energy from the sunlight and used that energy to attack the air. Carbon was harvested from the carbon dioxide, the oxygen was released back into the lungs of Spanish children, and the carbon was shaped into leaves and bark and this olive. Like me, the olive is carbon based. It is made of cells, which are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are (as we all now know) made of quarks and leptons, which are...

Here is the moment of my amaze. The olive that I hold in my hand along with its friendly minced pimento, this olive that I now taste and eat, that former olive was, on some level, made out of something that was... not made from anything.

There is another word for not anything. The word is nothing. At some point, that is the answer to the question. What is it? What is it made of?

Nothing. And yet... it is."
Not since Darwins' Origin of Species has a book so captured my imagination and wonder. Even as a Christian, I find Charles Darwin's work is thought provoking and worthwhile to read. On the other hand, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl go in a different direction and paint God as the artist of our world in a believable way. This should be just an enjoyable for non-believers as it is for believers. This book might just adjust your focus on the world, it's purpose, and it's possibilities. This is a book that I will be talking about for a long time and plan on gifting to many people.

A 35-page preview can be found at this link.


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