Tagged: Wendell Berry

Reflecting God’s glory, by living well, in the pocket of the Kingdom: a book review

The truth is we are broken people. We were created as image bearers to reflect the glory of God, but because of sin we are twisted and broken image bearers. We reflect God but are fragmented and alienated from others.

Kevin Scott’s Recreatable: How God Heals the Brokenness of Life takes an honest look at the reality of our brokenness but also offers us the Good News: we are broken people, but we are not broken beyond repair. As people created by God intended to bear his image, we are ‘recreatable.’ God is able to take the broken shards of our life and help us to live holy lives which reflect his glory to a watching world.

I really loved this book. In part, this is because it contains both what I consider the single best analogy of human brokenness and one of the best summaries of the Christian life. In the first chapter, Scott tells the story of his daughter Courtney baking brownies and dropping the glass pan that they were in. While smell of brownies was still enticing, the brownies were full of shards of glass and were dangerous to whoever dared partake of them (19-20). This seems a vivid picture of our image bearing. We humans have the scent of heaven on us, but because of our brokenness we hurt all who get close to us.]

Scott summarizes the Christian life with this ’45 second’ explication of the book’s sections (Reflecting his glory, Living well, in the pocket of the Kingdom):

“Reflecting his glory” means that God is taking  the shards of the world and our broken lives and restoring his glory to them. We become a place of intersection where people can meet God as he makes us holy.by

“Living well” means that Christ develops in our hearts a sustainable pattern of faith, hope and love. This is the essence of healing, hope, and God’s glory in us.

“In a pocket of the Kingdom” means the holy life– the attractive life–is lived with other Christians who come together around Scripture, worship, and community, and welcome other Christians into the Kingdom pocket through Christian mission.

It is through this process–this story recapitulated in every disciples life–that God heals the brokenness of life. We may be broken but we are recreatable (*13-4).

These paragraphs describe in brief the outline of the book. Part one looks at “reflecting his glory,” part two describes “living well,” and part three explores the context of ‘pocket of the Kingdom”–Scott’s description of how the church relates to the Kingdom. This forty-five second version hints at what the Christian life is about and draws on three thinkers which help Scott frame his theological vision  in reponse to three thinkers, “the scholar, the philosopher and the farmer—N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, and Wendell Berry (9).” Scott claims that the insights of these men have uniquely impacted his life. I think they helped him frame his summary of the Christian life in terms of biblical theology (Wright), spiritual formation (Willard) and local context (Berry). All three men are quoted and referenced in the text, though I think Wright and Willard’s influence (providing the biblical vision and how this is lived out) are more explicit and Berry is more implicit (i.e. how community and local communal context relates to the concept of church).

This book provides an interesting look at discipleship. I think Scott has important things to say. At times he is incisive in his conclusions (i.e. the reality of human brokenness and the gospel  news of healing and restoration). At other times he is provocative (i.e. he tells disciples that they ‘maybe’  reading the Bible daily isn’t the best way for them (153). But he is always compelling. This is the sort of book that makes me want to pursue Jesus full force. Its focus is more on ‘personal aspects’ of faith rather then social implications, but Scott is careful to situate this communally. As a book describing personal discipleship, I give this 5 stars and recommend this book for small group study and personal reading. This is an excellent resource for those seeking to deepen their spiritual life and grow beyond brokenness into holy living. This is well worth reading: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★.

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Easter week 3/ Earth Day 2012 poems

Having spent yesterday weeding and trying to ready a garden plot, for this years vegetables. I spent a good part of yesterday with my hands in the dirt, hunched over and seeing how much the soil teems with life–beetles and spiders, worms and slugs and the odd gardner snake warming herself on a stone. In the northern hemisphere Easter coincides with new life and growth. So I thought it appropriate to share some poems which reflect on this seasonal rising. Below are two poems taken from Luci Shaw’s The Green Earth: Poems of Creation and one poem from Wendell Berry’s A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997.

From Luci Shaw

Rising: the Underground Tree
(Cornus sanguinea and cornus candensis)

One spring in Tennessee I walked a tunnel
under dogwood trees, noting the petals
(in fours like crosses) and at each tender apex
four russet stains dark as Christ’s wounds.
I knew that with the year the dogwood flower heads
would ripen into berry clusters bright as drops of gore.

Last week, a double-click on Botony
startled me with the kinship of those trees
and bunchberries, whose densely crowded mat
carpets the deep woods around my valley cabin.
Only their flowers — those white quartets of petals –
suggest the blood relationship. Since then I see

the miniature leaves and buds as tips of trees
burgeoning underground, knotted roots like limbs
pushing up to light through rocks and humus.
The pure cross-flowers at my feet redeem
their long, dark burial in the ground, show how even
a weight of stony soil cannot keep Easter at bay.

—-

Stigmata

The tree, a beech, casts the
melancholy of shadow across the road.
It seems to bear the enormous weight of
the sky on the tips of its branches.
The smooth trunk invites me to finger

five bruise-dark holes where rot
was cut away. Years have pursed
the thickened skin around the scars
into the mouths that sigh,
“Wounded. Wounded.”

As the hurt feels me out,
wind possesses the tree and
overheard a hush comes; not that
all other sounds die, but half a million
beech leaves rub together in the air,

washing out bird calls, footsteps,
filling my ears with the memory of
old pain and a song of cells in the sun.
“Hush,” they say with green lips.
“Hush.”

From Wendell Berry

Another Sunday morning comes
And I resume the standing Sabbath
Of the woods, where the finest blooms
Of time return, and where no path

Is worm, but wears its maker out.
At last, and disappears in leaves
Of fallen seasons. The tracked rut
Fills and levels; here nothing grieves

In the risen season. Past life
Lives in the living. Resurrection
Is in the way each maple leaf
Commemorates its kind, by connection

Outreaching understanding. What rises
Rises into comprehension
And beyond. Even falling raises
In praise of light. What is begun

Is unfinished. And so the mind
That comes to rest among the bluebells
Comes to rest in motion, refined
By alteration. The bud swells,

Opens, makes seed, falls, is well,
Being becoming what is:
Miracle and parable
Exceeding thought, because it is

Immeasurable; the understander
Encloses understanding, thus
Darkens the light. We can stand under
No ray that is not dimmed by us.

The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.