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'Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl': An Exhilarating Ride

For most of us, the vacation — if we got one — is past. The workplace beckons. School is around the corner, with all the homework and pop quizzes. Put simply, it’s back to the grind, to the mundane, to paying the bills, to feeling a chill in the air.

For some of us, the end of summer can make us feel rather blue. Well, I’d like to share with you an astonishing, invigorating book that will lift your spirits and put a spring in your step, no matter the season.

It’s called Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World, and it’s written by the gifted young author N.D. Wilson. While Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl is not a new book — it was published three years ago  —it’s new to me and, perhaps, to you as well. This book is absolutely bursting with playful, sobering, and fresh insights about living on this giant tilt-a-whirl.

What, you may ask, exactly is a tilt-a-whirl? Well, it’s a platform-style ride with seven spinning cars that hold three or four people apiece. Because of the scientific effect known as chaos, riders never quite know what direction they will go on the tilt-a-whirl!

I think Wilson is onto something with his metaphor. On planet earth, this ball of rock and mud which is rotating at about a thousand miles an hour around its axis and whooshing through space at some 67,000 miles per hour, 93 million miles from a gigantic ball of fire that we call the sun, we often feel exhilaration, unpredictability, and yes, sometimes even nausea.

But instead of telling you about Wilson’s volume, I’d like to show you, as it were, by reading some short passages. Wilson touches on what kind of place this earth is:

“The round kind. The spinning kind. The moist kind. The inhabited kind. The kind with flamingos (real and artificial). The kind where water in the sky turns into beautifully symmetrical crystal flakes sculpted by artists unable to stop themselves (in both design and quantity). The kind of place with tiny, powerfully jawed mites assigned to the carpets to eat my dead skin as it flakes off. ... The kind with people who kill and people who love and people who do both ...”

In Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, Wilson covers the mystery of our existence with a grateful and yet still questioning heart.

He reminds me of a young Chesterton, who once said: “The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs?”

I love Wilson’s book because it captures the beauty, the grandeur, and, yes, the awfulness of life on planet earth. “I love it as it is, because it is a story, and it isn't stuck in one place,” Wilson writes of a place spoken into existence by the Word of God. “It is full of conflict and darkness like every good story, a world of surprises and questions to explore. And there’s someone behind it; there are uncomfortable answers to the hows and whys and whats. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through Him were all things made. ... Welcome to His poem. His play. His novel.”

Our sad, dark and decaying culture needs more salt, light and joy from such authors as N.D. Wilson.

As summer winds down, I urge you to pick up a copy of Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl. I promise: You’ll be refreshed and inspired!

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: August 27, 2012

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