Book Review: Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl
In Notes from the Twilt-a-Whirl, author N.D. Wilson takes the reader on a ride befitting the title. On the outside it cycles through the four seasons as a metaphor for the seasons of life. On the inside it spins through many of deepest questions of the human experience. How did the universe come into existence? Is there a God? If God is good and God is all-powerful, then why is there evil? All the while Wilson tilts back and forth from sacred to secular, from deep thought to light-hearted humor, and from prose to poetry.
One moment Wilson is sifting through the abstract thought of ancient philosophers the next he’s injecting tangible experiences of his past. One moment he’s exploring the beauty of a Christmas snowfall, the next he’s describing how people will curse it and dogs will pee on it the next day.
I found it to be thought provoking and yet thoroughly fun to read. Kind of a Donald Miller meets C.S. Lewis. Not many people can cite the philosophies Nietzsche, Plato, C.S. Lewis, and David Hume in a way that is not only understandable to the average reader but interesting and even entertaining. Somehow Wilson manages that feat.
While Tilt-a-Whirl twists and turns through lots of questions, the main thing I took away from it is that God has created a vast, fascinating universe full of crazy stuff like stars, aphid-sheparding ants, platypuses and human beings. History is His grand story and each of us has hit the lottery by having been given a role. Who are we question the role in which we’ve been cast? All we can do is enjoy it and play our part to the best of our ability.
Some philosophical writings are intended to be consumed like a fine wine, analyzing and contemplating every nuance. Tilt-a-Whirl is more like drinking from the backyard sprinkler. It’s fun. It’s invigorating. I probably missed ¾ of the meaning, symbolism and metaphors, but I’m fine with that. It’s a book I could read several times a year and both enjoy it and learn something new each time.