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Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  2,237 Ratings  ·  398 Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This theological ride thrills with a colorful whir of profound and profoundly amusing meditations on creation, existence and God.

Product Description

A visual, poetic exploration of the narrative nature of the world and the personality of the Poet behind it all.

When Nate Wilson looks at the world around him, he asks "What is this place? Why is

Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 29th 2009 by Thomas Nelson (first published May 30th 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Douglas Wilson
Jun 21, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing
Stupendous. More to follow.

I had read Notes from the Tilt a Whirl before in its various manifestations. But when it arrived in its final printed form, I was happy to sit down and go through it again, left to right. What a good book this is.

The conceit for the book is that the solar system is a ride at a carnival, with circular motions inside circular motion. Not only do we have the carnival-like motions, we have a carnival-like environment, gaudy colors and situations included. The book works th
Jen H.
Jun 11, 2012 Jen H. rated it it was amazing
So, on Saturday I was the lone woman sitting amongst a group of men when the subject of this book came up. I'd started to read it once before and hated it. Why? I didn't like the author. I've thought for years he was trying too hard to be like his father and never quite measuring up. Ugly, I know. But true. And I happen to think his father a right jolly old elf, with a bit of Lewis, Chesterton and Luther thrown in for good measure. Who wouldn't like THAT sort of guy, right?

So when talk about thi
Jul 06, 2016 Banner rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious
This was a refreshing, honest and very personal book about faith...from one man's perceptive. He doesn't seem to be trying to convince anyone about anything (well maybe in a couple of places...not totally sure). He just expressed how he saw the world through faith.

His style was kind of like reading Robin Williams teaching Sunday School or maybe talking with his fellow theologians down at the pub. It took a page or two to get into, but I enjoyed the style.

This is not one of those get pumped up,
Gwen Burrow
Jun 13, 2009 Gwen Burrow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, favorites
Breathtaking. Hilarious. Scathing. Fiercely jolly. If you ever want to read about poetry, ants, creation, thunderstorms, evil, Hamlet, eternity, snow, hell, pain and death all rolled into one ecstatic ball, then read this book. It will sprawl you, wind you, pick you up, and push you on your way even as you hold out both arms to stop the world from rocking. It will blind you with beauty and insist that you see.

I read this in one dizzy three-hour sitting in June 2009, then again (much slower) in M
Dec 25, 2009 Joel rated it it was ok
N.D. Wilson's book is peculiar. I set out reading this not having a clue what to expect; and to the author's credit, I got a good handle on what I was in for after reading the introduction. Wilson's style is distinct. He is very self reflective and loooooves metaphors. This I do not mind. But it is also no guarantee of a good read.

This book has problems. It is a compilation of random personal reflections capped off by one powerhouse chapter concerning hell towards the end of the book. The writin
Barnabas Piper
Sep 19, 2011 Barnabas Piper rated it it was amazing
The peaks of this book were higher than almost any book I have read in recent years. Wilson has a genuinely unique voice and a gift for seeing the world and the greatness of its minutiae. If you want an exploration of God's kingdom and reality in a fresh way, this is the book.
Sep 15, 2009 Abrahamus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
I resolved before I even began Page One that I was not going to like this book—at least not too much. I figure that I've read enough books by this guy's dad that I really don't need to become a cheerleader for two generations of Wilsons. Well, I'm sorry. Putting on my game face didn't work and, in spite of a heroic effort on my part, I really did love this book. It's quite a ride. A bit out there, to be sure, but as far as all that goes, really nothing even remotely as inscrutable as some of the ...more
Jun 19, 2010 Crystal rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
When this book was not what I was expecting, it was ok. I liked the wide-eyed wonder theme because I think we lose too much of that in our modern world. However, this book did seems to ramble and not have a clearly defined "purpose" or if it did, it was blurred into the background by the imagery and wonder. Which maybe that's what Wilson was headed for. I think maybe I set myself up expecting too much like he might write like Brennan Manning or some spiritually enlightening master. He did, howev ...more
Callie Glorioso-Mays
I am very conflicted about this book - I'll do my best to explain why. When I read the summary, I thought I would love this book and I was thrilled to be reviewing it. But when it came and I actually started reading, I really labored over it. The first few chapters were mind-boggling. Each time I picked up the book, I literally got a headache and had to put it down within a few minutes. I was thrown off by Wilson's style and really struggled to keep reading. It was the first time I seriously con ...more
Kris Irvin
Aug 25, 2010 Kris Irvin rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. But holy cow, reading it was like stabbing myself in the ear with a toothpick.

There were a few lines and paragraphs I enjoyed. I loved the entire chapter on Hell. But the rest of the book I found painful. It reminded me of "one thousand gifts" by Ann Voskamp, another very flowery, Christian book that goes on and on without ever coming to a point.

Actually, Wilson does make a point in his book. He makes several. But I found him condescending, repetitive, and ir
Aug 12, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics
I gave it five stars with around 60 pages left. Having now finished, I wish I could give it six.

What I consider the major theme of the book from page 70:
Are we on a world kick-started by a god who doesn't know how to drive? Is this god embarrassed? Did he not know that snowflakes would come with avalanches as well as the quaint village scenes they ruin?

Of course He did. This God is big, bigger than the world. Faith is hard on the back of a motorcycle, it is hard when the Tilt-A-Whirl reverse
Sep 14, 2012 Kay rated it it was ok
take away:
this seems like a morbid take-away but I relate to this perspective:

It is hard knowing I will die
He has the authority to choose my end.
He has the authority to sever my soul from my body and call it to another part of the stage
when I die...wherever or whenever...there will be other characters in the story with me...but God will be there too...closing a chapter...smiling.
To His eyes, I never leave the stage...I do not cease to is a chapter.
Look to Him...walk to Him
when my body
Wonder is oftentimes a lost and forgotten discipline among Christians. We use a children's curriculum in our church that emphasizes wonder through storytelling. Awe of God rather than a drive to always have the right answers. One of the ways the curriculum is described is "playful orthodoxy." I think that phrase captures Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl perfectly.

This book contains meditations about the world, reflecting on God's unmistakable hand in all of it. It is thought-provoking and well writte
Jun 13, 2008 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a beef about God or who likes stuff. So, pretty much everyone.
It reminded me of Chesterton, "The greater and stronger a man is, the more he would be inclined to prostrate himself before a periwinkle."
I'd like to read it again, but I'm going to be patient and wait for the finished draft. I have to agree with Elise, if they take anything out it's going to annoy me.
Jul 07, 2008 Claire rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read, never mind that it was written by a friend of ours. When it comes into print, I'll be buying it for everyone I know--especially anyone who is...well, someone I know.
Nov 06, 2012 Suzannah rated it really liked it
Read October 16, 2011 and October 12, 2014.

Maybe it's something about Octobers. Even richer and more perceptive than I remember it being the first time. This is a volume of literary criticism on the biggest Art of all. I particularly recommend it to writers.
Helena Sorensen
Sep 13, 2013 Helena Sorensen rated it it was amazing
Wilson uses words in surprising and delightful ways. It's always a treat to read his stuff. And, besides, I don't think I've ever read anything so aggressively joyful.
Leandro Guimarães Faria Corcete DUTRA
A romp!
Jan 21, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book much more than I did. The first half confused and bored me, but the second half was much better and improved my overall opinion. I think it's a book with some definite merits; and I'm glad to see someone attempting to break out of standard evangelical literary molds. However, I do have two major issues with the book: the style and the audience. First, I actually do love the initial premise of the book and "note" style. I get what Nate was trying to do, but I act ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Tintinrulz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
"Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World" by N.D. Wilson is one of a kind. This book may be classed as non-fiction. Sort of. It's reality played out in poetic and philosophical anecdotes (think a combination of G.K. Chesteron and C.S. Lewis with a slightly modern American edge). Wilson put a lot of himself into this book. But first, I have to admit I didn't know what a Tilt-A-Whirl even was, so the possible cleverness of the title was lost on this Aussie. Today, my Ca ...more
Joshua D.
Jul 22, 2011 Joshua D. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Imagine a Rob Bell book, but with longer sentences and better theology. I suppose that's mean. Fans of Bell will think I'm taking a swipe at him (which I suppose I am). Fans of Wilson will think I'm dragging him down by comparing him to Bell (which isn't my intent). Okay, let's start over.

I read a review this morning talking about Francis Chan's book "Erasing Hell." Chan's book is a response to Rob Bell's controversial "Love Wins." The reviewer said of Chan's attempt, "right time, wrong book."

Brandon Zaffini
Jul 17, 2012 Brandon Zaffini rated it really liked it
This is a piece of art about a greater piece of art. It is a book of words about God's words, about the whole-wide world, and the universe too. It is about God's never-ending work of poetry. As N.D. Wilson explains it, the infinite God has revealed Himself in a finite cosmos, and the result is stunning, beautiful, scary and cute, with enough tension to make the final world, the final restoration of all things, that much more worth it. Understanding the ultimate character of the universe, underst ...more
Joe Haack
Aug 08, 2011 Joe Haack rated it really liked it
What if Annie Dillard was orthodox? And a bit more sprawling (with a less skilled publishing editor)? And what if she channeled her God-gift of observation not through Thoreau, but through a) the paradox-wonder of GK Chesterton, b) the cut-through-the-fog sanity of CS Lewis, and c) self-conscious (but not self-absorbed) memoir style of Frederick Buechner? And if she was a young husband and dad? And a pastor's-kid who likes his dad and his God? And a St. John's Annapolis graduate (look them up). ...more
Phil Dunn
Jan 06, 2011 Phil Dunn rated it really liked it
Probably the most unusual Christian book I've ever read!

The style is poetic throughout, but if you're not much of a poet like myself don't let that put you off. 'Unusual' in this case is good. Very good in fact. Wilson has a wonderful grasp of language and communicates in a way that I found very engaging.

The author takes a look at the world (which he refers to as a 'tilt-a-whirl' from a fareground) - and reflects on what he sees. He looks at nature, the seasons, insects, his own family experie
Joy C.
It took me a few weeks to finish reading this, and to be honest I was tempted to give it a 3.5 star rating, just because it was no where near as good as his second non-fiction book "Death by Living"; but in the end I came away with some great gems of beauty and faith hidden amidst the crazy ferris wheel of Wilson's quirky, weird, irreverent writing. How would I describe this book? W-e-l-l, it's a sort of book about writing stuff, ants and storms and snowflakes and death, and life, creation, Chri ...more
Shelby Stafford
May 26, 2012 Shelby Stafford rated it it was amazing
I would give more than 5 stars if I could.

What is the best of all possible Art? That which reveals, captures, and communicates as many facets of that Being as is possible in a finite frame.

Wilson, N. D. (2009-06-25). Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World (p. 8). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pr
Emily Woodham
Nov 06, 2009 Emily Woodham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity, grief, life
This book was a fantastic ride! I love philosophy and literature, and it thrilled me to no end to have someone, especially a sound Christian, address the different philosophies and world views in such a creative way. This is NOT boring! I read some reviews that said they found the book difficult to follow, but I only stopped my reading to savor a phrase or paragraph not because I felt it was presented in a muddled fashion.

My Mom died a year ago when her mitral valve suddenly collapsed. It was c
Aug 06, 2009 Jo rated it it was amazing
Reading this book really was a little like riding a tilt-a-whirl. Your brain is made to spin in too many directions at once, and you have the sensation of being a bit dizzy, but you really want to keep riding. With well crafted words and a healthy dose of the ridiculous, N.D. Wilson paints a picture that forces us to look at the world in new ways. He takes those observations and turns them into awe about God Himself. It succeeds in being a book that cultivates greater admiration for the Author o ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, favorites
This is the best book that I have read all year. I didn't want it to end, and so I put it down and waited for months (Stupid I know) I have a new appreciation for creation, I am seriously convinced that the world is made up of Quarks and Leptons and that those bits are the spoken Word of God.

I also fully believe that "He [God] is the rock He can't lift. He is the Infinite struggling to capture Himself, to reveal every faced of His Infinite Self in the limitations of tiny space" (188) and I also
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“The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not try to pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.” 68 likes
“Do not resent your place in the story. Do not imagine yourself elsewhere. Do not close your eyes and picture a world without thorns, without shadows, without hawks. Change this world. Use your body like a tool meant to be used up, discarded, and replaced. Better every life you touch. We will reach the final chapter. When we have eyes that can stare into the sun, eyes that only squint for the Shenikah, then we will see laughing children pulling cobras by their tails, and hawks and rabbits playing tag.” 67 likes
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