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Sunday, March 27, 2011

thoughts on: Penguins and Golden Calves, icons and idols

Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols in Antarctica and Other Unexpected Places (Wheaton Literary Series)Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols in Antarctica and Other Unexpected Places by Madeleine L'Engle
at comes from choosing books one had never before heard about based on a one sentence description.  I was expecting an exploration of how God is revealed through nature, how elements of His creation can be icons for us, how we can see God with new eyes when we marvel at the wonders of His creation.

In her opening chapter, L'Engle gives us her definition of an icon.  "My personal definition is much wider, and the simplest way I can put it into words is to affirm that an icon, for me, is an open window to God.  An icon is something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God and God's demands on us, el's mortal children, than I would otherwise."  A few paragraphs later, she continues, "If something does not lead us to God it is not and cannot be an icon.....True icons reveal more of God to me than I have hitherto understood."  This sounded very promising to me.

However, in the following chapters, L'Engle shares her thoughts on topics such as the Bible, family, our mortal bodies, God, and more.  The book is an exploration of her own deeply held theology, one with which I share the fundamentals, but on several points we diverge.  This, I must say, did not diminish my enjoyment of her writing, because she is a pleasure to read.  It is not that I did not understand her points, only that I was hoping for something different. 

I had been looking forward to reading about nature as icon.  I wanted the book to be something other than what it was.

1 comment:

The Reader said...

You know, I tried reading this book some years ago when a very dear friend suggested it. I was never able to finish it completely, though I wasn't sure why.

I think you've hit it exactly -- it just wasn't the kind of book I was expecting. It was interesting, but felt more like a memoir or personal journal than a look at nature reflecting God.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who felt so-so about this, because of that.