SABL: A Golden Read

Very clear and lucid, yet completely fantastical, Sought After Blood Lines by Eva Xanthopoulos captures the reader’s attention from the very first page with an especially special, unique young woman bandaging her wounded left arm. From here the smoothly-flowing narrative moves at a clip, so one is not bogged down at any point in a slough of confusion or, for that matter, caught in a web of intricate, complexly-spun detail. SABL is an intriguing fantasy novel set within a world of magic, where good versus evil in an action-adventure that keeps the reader reading, especially, perhaps, the younger reader of adolescence and early teen years. While the level of quality — good in and of itself — may not meet that of, say, A Wind in the Door; nevertheless, the tone and tenor reminded me of the late, great Madeleine L’Engle. Certainly, SABL is as well-written as Dragon Quest, by Donita K. Paul … if not better.

cover_3d_render_transEva Xanthopoulos provides just enough to draw her readers into the main characters of the novel, yet not so much information is given that one’s imagination is left no room to wander, wonder and creatively flesh out the players as the narrative runs quickly and actively. The reader is also left at the end of SABL almost hungrily anticipating the next installment. (Yes, this is but the first in what might very well end up being a series. At the very least, one more volume is anticipated.)

All in all, Sought After Blood Lines is finely crafted and sure to please the fan of fantasy or, better still, the family-fans of fantasy. After all, it certainly is a story fully capable of providing fun, family reading, say, right before bedtime. Such is the measure of the author’s creative abilities, which shine through this, her first novel, quite brightly, indeed. Therefore, it is with utmost pleasure that this reader recommends Sought After Blood Lines as an exceptional purchase for one’s own pleasure, or as an appropriate gift for another, or both!

Please, Please Vote! I NEED Your Feedback IN THE POLL! Thank You!

If you, my dear readers, would please be so kind as to take a moment to simply answer this poll, you would be doing me a huge favor! Please realize, too, that your vote remains anonymous, so I will not know who votes how … if that is of any concern. Please, it only takes a few seconds to answer, and I would/will be most grateful… The more votes I receive, the better the help provided in my answering this important question myself. Just be honest and take the few seconds necessary to answer … And a big, big ‘thank you’ to you for doing so!

‘A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President’

Garfield

First of all,  I must say unequivocally that Candice Millard is one of the best historical writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  Never did it occur to me that the rise of James Garfield to the Presidency of the United States and, more importantly, his assassination could be so intriguing and compelling.

As Millard weaves together the life stories of several unique and significant individuals brought together by an insane man’s bullet, however, the reader learns that the shooting and subsequent death of Garfield was truly “some of the most dramatic days in U. S. presidential history.” Point in fact, this was one of the most pivotal episodes in the life of America.

James A. Garfield was an extraordinary man in his own right, having risen from poverty in his beloved Ohio to Civil War hero and general, to well-educated congressman and eventually the surprise Republican presidential nominee in 1880, despite his own bitter protests.  He was truly a man of the people, someone with whom average folks could readily identify.

By all accounts, though certainly not perfect, Garfield was an individual of upstanding character and integrity, full of conviction but always congenial and gracious, even with those who opposed him and his ideas.  He loved his wife, children and friends;  he loved people and his country; he loved life and he was strong and vigorous in mind, body and soul.

Not so his assassin, Charles Guiteau, who was in all likelihood deranged from early in his tortured, psychotic life.  At one time, this pathetic man lived in a commune; at another he married and then divorced.  He tried his hand in ministry, or evangelism, and attempted the practice of law as well.  He even “wrote” a book, stolen from another author, but in everything he attempted,  he failed … except in shooting the 20th  President of the United States.

Millard beautifully contrasts the two characters of Garfield and Guiteau, portraying them as practically polar opposites, but there were other compelling people involved in this horrendous episode that literally gripped the nation for months.  Dr. Joseph Lister, for example, had recently discovered “antisepsis – preventing infection by destroying germs.”

The British surgeon tried but could not convince American physicians of the practical importance of his theory, though, which contributed in no small part to what was likely an unnecessary death.  Only after Garfield eventually succumbed to his wounds and the poisonous infection that riddled his body did the medical community finally realize the fundamental importance of antisepsis.

Alexander Graham Bell, who had just recently invented the telephone, played a critical role as he endeavored to find the bullet still lodged somewhere inside Garfield using an “induction balance.” Two attempts were made and both failed;  however, later tests were “an unqualified success,” and notably…

the induction balance would lessen the suffering and save the lives not just of Americans but of soldiers in the Sino-Japanese War and the Boer War. Even during World War I, doctors would often turn to the induction balance when they could not find an x-ray machine or did not trust its accuracy.  (298)

Even in its early and more unrefined state, the induction machine might very well have worked had Bell been allowed to search both sides of Garfield’s back. He was not, however, due quite simply to the arrogance of one Dr. Bliss, who had taken charge of the president’s care from the first day and was thoroughly convinced he knew the general location of the bullet.

Consequently, he would not allow himself to be proven wrong anymore than he would accept the ludicrous notion of Lister and his infectious germs.  And so, as Garfield struggled from day to day and week to week in excruciating pain – and dying an agonizingly slow death – Bliss was “blissfully” ignorant and arrogant, reassuring an entire nation almost to the last day that he had everything in hand and all would be well.

Millard opens up to the reader a nation still reeling from the effects of devastating war, a government hampered by corruption, peoples divided and still downtrodden … a world of fear and death as well as the hopeful promises of ever-advancing science and glories of human achievement, where lives are turned upside down and inside out and men are forever changed.

The whole narrative reads like an action-drama thriller right to the very end, and yet Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President could easily be used (one would think) very profitably in any high school or college history class. From my own experience, in fact,  I have no hesitation recommending it over typical text books.  But, then,  I would (and do) recommend it to readers in general – not just history buffs.  It is well-worth the purchase and time spent; you are sure to both enjoy and learn.

Marred by Dust and Sweat and Blood: Review of ‘Lion in the White House’

It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

— Theodore Roosevelt

Referring to Theodore Roosevelt as a “Lion in the White House,” the title of Aida D. Donald’s succinct and compelling biography, is no overstatement.  The man was a lion in life leaving behind majestic impressions that more than earned him his place beside Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln upon the face of Mount Rushmore.  Indeed, as much as these three profound influences upon the history of the nation, Roosevelt was as far-reaching and transforming … in some ways, perhaps even more so, as the author adeptly displays in her lively, captivating chronicle of an altogether compelling character.

Roosevelt was sickly child turned robust athlete; aristocrat and Dakota rancher; an aspiring naturalist turned political statesman; visionary undersecretary of the Navy and heroic soldier; progressive reformer and conservationist; huntsman and explorer; briefly Vice-President, “accidental” President and international leader; twice husband and father. All in all, as Donald accurately assesses, he was a tour de force  in the history of the United States and world at large.  There would not be, to this day, anyone quite like him, most especially, perhaps, within the ranks of all-too sedentary, laissez-faire, conservative Republicans.  Aida Donald, editor-in-chief at the Harvard University Press, remarks:

In fact, Roosevelt’s presidency was one of the great forward, or progressive, eras in the nation’s history as a whole. His party never again reached such heights in advanced legislation or in the care of the people. No Republican president since has embraced the idea of creating, through active government, the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

He largely redefined the presidency, government and the whole country at a point when masses of people, who had constituted the working middle class, were living in poverty while the bulk of enormous wealth remained concentrated in the hands of the few “robber barons.”  It was an era of subjugation and exploitation, when the American spirit faltered and languished, and the country was so turned inward that it failed to apprehend the radically changing nature of the world outside its own borders.  It was a day and age that would require a lion to tackle its problems;  that “lion” was Theodore Roosevelt.

From the earliest memories of “Teddy” to the last when son, Archie, informed his brothers, “The old lion is dead,”  Donald writes so fluently that one is immediately caught up and strapped into her narrative of this juggernaut of late 19th, early 20th century Americana.  She succeeds brilliantly in recounting every high-point and notable fact of the life of Roosevelt without ever sliding into bland or boring, merely academic history.  Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt  is story-telling at its finest, or as Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals, judges in her review, it is “every bit as vibrant, captivating, entertaining and inspiring as its titanic subject.” Touché!

Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt was first published in 2007 by Basic Books yet remains, perhaps, “the best short biography” of the man, and so constitutes “essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what makes a president a great leader,” in the words of author and historian Robert Dallek.  And again, touché!  Especially true now … maybe even imperative, as it seems to me (and doubtless many others) we need another “lion in the White House” at least as much as we have at any point in the history of our country.

With heartfelt recommendation, then,  I say read, learn and enjoy Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt  by Aida D. Donald.

Review of ‘2016: Obama’s America’

Written and directed by Dinesh D’Souza

Right up front let me say that I did not vote for Barak Obama in 2008 nor do I plan on voting for him this year. Let me also say that, though I have for many years now disassociated myself from either of the two major political parties – and really every political party – on the political spectrum I am moderate leaning (some would say leaning heavily) in the conservative direction. With this caveat, then, let me proceed to offer my own initial, “off the cuff” thoughts on 2016: Obama’s America.

Right-wing political demagoguery, to be sure, but certainly not at its best. While the film points to any number of grave problems the United States now faces, Dinesh D’Souza quite honestly fails to make his case that this is all the calculated doings of Obama, who is allegedly living and acting out the “dreams from his father.” D’Souza may disagree with the President’s politics and policies all he wants – most assuredly, I do – but if he intended to make the case that our current crisis is all part of an oblique, anti-colonialist, pro-Muslim, “dreams from my father” conspiracy, the movie does not sustain this proposition … IMHO.

One point particularly struck me, perhaps because I have been focusing on the plight of the Palestinian peoples of late, and that is the presentation of the Muslim world on the one hand and Israel on the other. No where in the movie is there any indication whatsoever that followers of Islam are anything other than American-hating, Jew-hating, radical terrorists. Israel, though, is presented as being our democratic ally and friend, with whom we are (or ought to be) so inextricably linked that one cannot possibly love one’s country and be patriotic without loving and supporting Israel 100% with absolutely no reservations.

More than once, 2016 presented the fact that Obama has reached out to the Muslim world as something very ominous, indeed, as if (of course) we ought to have nothing to do with them (except, maybe, to continue importing oil?). In other words, to attempt to improve relations with Muslim countries is automatically out-of-bounds … no matter the country, no matter the people! Arab plus Muslim equals personae non gratae, especially since they are all conspiring to form the “United States of Islam,” as the film conjectures. Had D’Souza bothered to differentiate between the whole of the Muslim world and radical Islamism, he might have been a bit more convincing. As it is, it stinks of high-handed religious bigotry. (And, yes, my own Christian convictions are solid … solidly orthodox, as a matter of fact, but the Christian faith is all about truth, not building up straw men and then tearing them down to score points.)

This is one striking problem throughout the film, though:  If it was supposed to be objective – and to D’Souza’s credit, he does not say it’s supposed to be objective – it fails miserably. No one is given an opportunity to answer any of the questions or implications raised in 2016, such as the complete economic collapse he seems to believe Obama actually desires. Of course, D’Souza may have reasonably assumed these questions or implications would be answered, and he would be right, of course. Still, there’s not even a “tip of the hat” to the other side. Another controversial film, albeit an ostensibly satirical documentary, comes to mind in Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which defends the concept of intelligent design and castigates its detractors. But Stein at least interviews folks on the other side including no less than the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Not so D’Souza, unless one counts the short news clips of individuals criticizing him … but, no, that really does not count.

So, I am back to my original assessment:  Low quality, right-wing political demagoguery obviously intended to frighten voters during an election year. To what might it be compared? Perhaps the political version of Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind novels-made-movies? It certainly has enough dire warnings and apocalyptic overtones, but at least in LaHaye’s fanciful presentation of the end of the world, some of us get swept up into glory. In D’Souza’s prophetic warning of the end of the United States, we all remain and live in an Americanized version of Kenya. Quite honestly,  I am surprised by my evaluation. Though I didn’t expect to necessarily agree with everything presented in the production, as someone who is moderate leaning conservative and definitely not a fan of Obama, I did expect to appreciate the movie and even, perhaps, benefit.

As SiskelandEbert might have said, I give it “two thumbs down,” but other reviews at least partly disagree. In fact, one reviewer who expressly dislikes the film says 2016 is far more insidiously effective than any political documentary since Fahrenheit 9/11.” Or in the words of the Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan:

One thing can be said for 2016. It’s anything but crude… As these things go, the movie seems destined to irritate the president’s supporters while mobilizing his detractors, even as it is doomed to win precious few converts.

Unless, of course, it actually backfires … and methinks that is a distinct possibility, too.

Between Heaven and Hell and the Choices We Make

Review of New Town  by Harry Blamires

It took no more than falling asleep, or dying really, to put Bernard in the strange and decaying city of Old Hertham. Leaving this municipality for residence in New Town would prove more daunting, however, as he learns all too quickly … as so many of us have discovered in our own journey through Old Hertham, while longing for an abode in another, better, brighter place.

In New Town, published by Revell in 2005, Anglican theologian, literary critic and novelist Harry Blamires tells the story of humanity, in the character of Bernard Dayman, living in an obviously fallen world – that is, Old Hertham – desiring and working and even grasping for something better. But herein lies the fundamentally important choice Bernard (and others) must make and, thus, the title of the book, New Town.

Many residents of Old Hertham believe the decaying city can be renovated and restored, at least to some satisfactory extent. Indeed, there is still much left in Old Hertham reminiscent of its glorious past, but something happened long ago that forever condemned the town to final and complete ruin. However, there is now another, far better and assuredly more secure place of residence for those who choose, if they are willing and make the necessary effort and sacrifice.

Obviously analogous to the choice with which we are faced in our life in this world, Blamires offsets the seeming hopelessness of “renovation” with the glorious promise of heaven (or the “new heavens and new earth,” in the words of St. John the Beloved.)

One must wonder, though, if Christianity, which is obviously the general orientation and perspective of this work, actually teaches one to make application for residence in New Town and then, having been enrolled on the “Waiting List,” merely to attend meetings of the “Society of Waiters.” In this respect, and unfortunately, the book seems to lend itself to the utterly unchristian idea that God is largely disinterested in this (still his) world.

Nevertheless, New Town is superbly written and easy to read, even delightful though at times a bit melancholic. Harry Blamires was, after all, sometime head of the English Department at King Alfred’s College (now Winchester University) and protégé of C. S. Lewis. Point in fact, it is said he began his writing career in the late 1940s at the behest of Lewis, and so far as quality is concerned he does not disappoint in this novelette penned late in life.

As evangelical Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias notes, “Like C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton, Harry Blamires crafts a story as only an observant Englishman can: with wry wit, imagination, and bullet insight. A wonderful and unexpected tale of the very longing for home.” Touché! New Town is, indeed, about the very human longing for home, which is ultimately to be found outside and beyond this present age in this present world.

“For the present form of this world is passing away, but whoever does the will of God abides forever… Indeed, it is the last hour.” (I Corinthians 7.31b, I John 2.17b-18a, ESV) And no matter the particular tradition or theological perspective within the Judeo-Christian faith, the consensual belief has always been that this present world in all of its darkness and decay is, indeed, passing away and will eventually be replaced with another, more pristine world.

It is the recognition of the awful truth of present reality while proffering real hope grounded in the historic death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, confessed to be the only and eternally begotten Son of God, which provides the Christian with the strength to live in this world – and, hopefully, productively so – yet without being of this world … because s/he truly has an everlasting home in “New Town.”

This and this alone makes Blamires’ book well worth the read. It is not only well-written, but entertaining, thought-provoking, hope-filled and encouraging. (As are, by the way, the many other works by Harry Blamires, such as The Christian Mind and Recovering the Christian Mind: Meeting the Challenge of Secularism.)

ISBN: 0800759974

New Book: ‘Stumbling Along the Road to Redemption’

I am very happy to announce my first book, entitled, Stumbling Along the Road to Redemption.

It is a 76 page spiritual/religious collection of poems and poetic prose that express the heart and soul of one weary pilgrim along life’s journey.

This small collection is dedicated to my two children, for whom it was first and foremost and above all, compiled and published. Still, some of my readers may also want to procure a copy.

You may do so at my “store” by following this link:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/noble_jonathan

The format is paperback, quality of binding good, layout good and the price … well, you decide. The price is $6.95

Thank you and God bless!

Eucharistic Living: ‘One Thousand Gifts’ an Invaluable Gift

Life.

Fully-lived, abundant, joy-filled life.

Sober life. Life with both eyes and hands wide open. Life as liturgy in the liturgy of Life.

This is the life into which Ann Voskamp invites the reader in One Thousand Gifts, very poignantly and passionately, clear-headedly and realistically. Absolutely no Pollyanna, she knows pain and doubt and fear and everything that seems part and parcel of living life in an imperfect world filled with so much tragedy … yet she learns eucharisteo, thanksgiving, and in this soul-deep life lesson, she learns to fully live life.

Eucharisteo, remembering with thanks,this is the bread. We take moments as bread and give thanks and the thanks itself becomes the bread. The thanks itself nourishes… And it swells up in me and I can’t stop it, this surging sense of emancipation. (158, emphasis original)

And for Voskamp it was genuine liberation, to be sure ~ emancipation from loss, agony, depression, anxiety, self-deprecation, fear … smallness ~ and rebirth into unadulterated joy, transforming joy, becoming not only blessing-receiver but blessing-giver as well:

In an endless cycle of grace, He gives us gifts to serve the world. This is how to make a life great… (195)

Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him… (197, emphasis original)

It’s the fundamental, lavish, radical nature of the upside-down economy of God. Empty to fill. (197)

Drawing upon holy Scripture, as well as her own life experience, the wisdom of faith-writers both modern and ancient, Voskamp has managed to craft an entrancing, compelling, poetic faith-story that, in the words of Lysa Terkeurst, “will challenge you and mess with you in the most beautiful ways…”

Published by Zondervan, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are, delivers on its promise to explore “what it means to be deeply human, deeply spiritual, deeply and authentically fulfilled” that most certainly “begs to be embraced.” A must-read, the investment is sure to pay a lifetime of dividends.

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: 2010 (Hardback)

ISBN: 978-0-310-32191-0

I Don’t Care and I Don’t Want To: Brief Comments on Acedia & me

At once I must admit my own inadequacy in reviewing Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, by Kathleen Norris. I feel wholly unqualified, so daunting is the subject; nevertheless, I will venture some brief comments in recommending this as a “must read.”

The work itself brings many descriptives to mind. It is informative, compelling, challenging and convicting, altogether serious but with healthy doses of humor along the way. At times quite heart-wrenching ~ many times I was moved to tears ~ yet the author is inspirational, too; there is hope in combating the “noonday demon” of acedia.

Often deeply and poignantly personal, Norris addresses the subject of acedia in a broad sweep of history including incisive and often provocative insights from theology and psychology, philosophy and medical research, prose and poetry, striking an almost unbelievably judicious balance between the scientific and the spiritual, the contemporary and the ancient.

Before we get too carried away, though, what exactly is acedia? The word is not one we commonly use, to be sure, but it is an ancient idea very closely related to, and sometimes completely identified with, the deadly sin of sloth. More than this, acedia may be defined as the inability to care; “weariness of the soul … an empty indifference.” (323)

As Norris quotes Karl Menninger, “there is a sin of not doing, of not knowing, of not finding out what one must do — in short, of not caring. This is the literal meaning of acedia, recognized as a sin for so many centuries and plaguing us still.” (306) And it leads, as the author vividly proves, to a kind of “flattening out” of everything in life.

We live more than we probably care to admit in an “imaginary world” in which we care little more “about a suicide bombing” than we do about “a celebrity divorce, and the latest advance in nanotechnology.” (128)

Advertisements direct our attention to automobiles; medications to combat high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, and insomnia; the Red Cross; a new household cleanser.

When the ‘news’ returns, there are appalling segues, such as one I witnessed recently, the screen going from ‘Child Sex Offender’ to ‘Gas Prices Rise.’ It all comes at us on the same level, and an innocent from another world might assume that we consider these matters to be of equal value and importance.

We may want to believe that we are still concerned, as our eyes drift from a news anchor announcing the latest atrocity to the NBA scores and stock market quotes streaming across the bottom of the screen… (129)

But are we? On my Internet “home page” the day’s “highlights” include “Death Toll Soars in the South … 240 Killed” within an inch of something about an “American Idol” romance, the “Daily Show” and Sarah Palin “mocking Couric’s departure” because she may “still be upset about their 2008 interview.”

The well-known 20th century monastic, Thomas Merton, was correct in his prophetic warning, Norris submits. “Our world has been flattened, and we’ve been had.” (129) And “as we grow ever more sluggish, negligent, and careless, we come to a ‘dull coldness of the heart’ and arrive at acedia’s threshold.” (152)

And so we are tired and bored and restless; always moving, chattering, shopping, looking for diversions, but upset, unsettled, plagued, anxious, afraid, stressed, despondent, depressed. As Norris quotes Charles Baudelaire in a letter to his mother, “Oh, how weary I am, how weary I’ve been for many years already, of this need to live twenty-four hours every day!” (299)

In the grips of acedia, Gustave Flaubert appropriately asks:

Aren’t you tired, as I am, of waking up every morning and seeing the sun again? Tired of living the same life; of suffering the same pain? Tired of desiring and tired of being disgusted? Tired of waiting and tired of possessing? (299)

There is hope, of course, “a way where there is no way,” for all who care to take up the fight against acedia. But “this is what God, and only God, can provide,” says Norris, who for years wrestled with religious faith and her own spirituality (or, more appropriately, her lack thereof), eventually converting to Catholicism, going on to become a Benedictine oblate. (72)

This is salvation, which in Hebrew means widening or making sufficient. As we move from death to life we discover grace, a force as real as gravity, and are reminded of its presence in the changing of the seasons, and in the dying of seeds from which new life emerges, so that even our deserts may bloom…  (285)

It is by no means an easy struggle nor ever a quick, one-time battle. To read Acedia & me is, perhaps, to realize that it is lifelong and touches ~ should we say “assaults” ~ the very depths of our soul, and does so unabashedly in broad daylight, so to speak, which is why acedia has been called “the noonday demon.” Reading Norris may very well be an excellent first blow against this insidious enemy!

Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life
By:  Kathleen Norris
Riverhead Books
ISBN: 978-1-59448-438-4

More Than ‘Dust in the Wind’

ISBN: 0830827994

“Dust in the wind; all we are is dust in the wind,” the group Kansas once crooned. “Everything is dust in the wind.” Modern physicist Steven Weinberg seems to agree. In his book, The First Three Minutes, the scientist laments that although “it is almost irresistible for humans to believe that we have some special relation to the universe, that human life is not just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents,” we are in fact only “a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe,” which all “seems pointless.”

Ah, but is it all pointless? Are we only an insignificant part of an overwhelmingly antagonistic universe? Just so much dust in the wind? Drs. Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt say, “no!” We humans are unique and valuable, and we live in an intentional and purpose-filled world, and to prove this we will start with … Shakespeare???

Yes. Welcome to A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature. Tired of stuffy, overly-academic arguments about the origin, constitution and character of the universe? Here is a breath of fresh air. Wiker and Witt deftly and ingenuously move from “the nature of genius to evidence of genius in nature,” beginning with the elegant literary prowess of William Shakespeare, whose voluminous work “both condescends to the everyday level” yet at the same time “exceeds our attempts to delve into its rich depth.”

Here we see far more than stale arguments for the existence of God and, in consequence, the divine origin of the world. Here we are introduced to God as not only Grand Architect but the Artist upon whose canvas we have been intentionally painted, the Playwright upon whose stage we have been introduced as the principal characters in an exciting, riveting, evocative narrative we call Life. And so as we stand “before the cathedral of the world,” the authors tell us, “we realize that we should not assume we comprehend all the designs of a genius so daunting, imagining that our own reasoning is the plumb line of the world.”

Rather, as Witt and Wiker advise, “humility as much as boldness and intellect is critical to scientific discovery, for it leads us to expect the mysterious -– a mystery that is not darkness but a superabundance of light… This attitude of awe and wonder is good and proper, especially as we regard the genius of nature, for a traditional understanding of the elements of a work of genius insists on the qualities of paradox and mystery. The great surprise, in a work as rich as our world, would be to find neither.”

Very erudite, clearly written, compelling, inspirational … even “charming,” in the words of Phillip Johnson, author of the popular Reason in the Balance. Witt and Wiker offer the reader quite ample grounds, an enjoyable raison d’être, for believing we truly are more than “dust in the wind.”