The Wonders of Creation (Book Review)

  • Author: Kristen Page
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Pre-Order Now
  • Synopsis: Through three lectures, Kristen Page explores the fictional landscapes of Narnia and Middle Earth— and how these imaginative worlds can shed light on the need to steward our own.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary eARC of the book from the publisher, via NetGalley. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

Spiritual Themes

Stewardship is HUGE, throughout the book. In addition to citing the verse from Genesis, there are various Scriptural references that point to our role, as fellow creatures, in creation.

Contents

The book, part of the Hansen Lectureship Series from Wheaton College, consists of three lectures by Page, and each lecture includes a response. The introduction is by Walter Hansen,

  • Stepping Out of the Wardrobe: Searching Fictional Landscapes to Guide Our View of Our Own World
    • Response by Christina Beiber Lake
    • Chapter one introduces the concept of fictional landscapes in Tolkien and Lewis’ work. Page explains that both authors were intimately acquainted with the natural world and this familiarity lent to lush, filled-out, fictional settings. She excerpts passages describing the destructions of Narnia and the Shire, discussing the emotional response that these scenes elicit in readers.
  • A Lament for Creation: Responding to the Groaning of God’s World
    • Response by Noah Toly
    • Chapter two shifts its emphasis to the created world in which we live, with discussion about how decisions by one group of people affect other groups of people— and the world’s ecological systems, at large. Page also discusses a harmful cultural phenomenon: Christians, despite receiving the call to stewardship in the Bible, are those who are least likely to believe that the earth needs to be stewarded.
  • Ask the Animals to Teach You: How to Regain Wonder and Rejoin the Chorus
    • Response by Emily Hunter McGowin
    • Chapter three highlights the importance of wonder, in recognizing the glory of God and cultivating an appropriate relationship with what He created.

What I Liked

The book’s premise drew me in, first because of the literary/fantasy emphasis on the works of Lewis and Tolkien and second because of the stewardship correlation. Stewardship is something that the Lord has strongly emphasized to my mom and I over the past several years, and He has led my mom to design our yards to create a bird/wildlife/pollinator sanctuary. Plus, Meadow Arc is sectioned into various cultural and literary spaces, including “Baggins” and “Narnia.” (It is a lovely landscape and a work in progress.) In some ways, this book felt like it was written especially for me.

There was an argument I really liked in the first section— something to the extent that stories can make arguments that people wouldn’t ordinarily be willing or able to hear. I’ve seen this in very positive ways, such as when the Lord uses books to speak to me. On the other hand, this is also a reason why I’m so adamantly in favor of promoting good books— because bad books can promote messages that people wouldn’t otherwise be receptive to.

Page’s argument is linked to the theme of stewardship in Narnia and Middle Earth, and I feel that this is a positive instance where otherwise unreceptive readers are invited to consider a new perspective, through literature. Conservative Christians are often fond of Tolkien’s and Lewis’s work, but less open to discussions about the importance of taking care of the world God has given us. I think that The Wonder of Creation, along with the original books, themselves, are eye-opening resources for those who have eyes to see.

I enjoyed the excerpts from the books, as well as the commentary that illuminated some familiar passages in a new light. The close readings were fun and insightful.

One point that really stood out to me was that the Hebrew word used in Genesis in the call to take care of the earth is the same term used later on in commissioning temple workers. This is significant and beautiful to think about!

Content

This book is definitely “challenging” for Christians, especially Conservative Christians— in the best way. I have no content notes.

Recommendation Status

Highly, highly recommended! This work has a strong academic quality (it is, after all, part of a lecture series). For this reason, I could see it integrated into curriculum about Inklings authors, at either the high school or the college level. (I had the opportunity to study the Inklings during my undergraduate experience at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, and I could definitely see this book being integrated!)

I would also recommend the title for those who are big fans of C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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