Choice, desire and the  

  will of God

        - what more do you want?

SPCK 2003

ISBN-10: 0281053154

ISBN-13: 978-0281053155

‘I have read few books in recent years

that have struck me so much with their

emotional honesty. This is a wise,

entertaining, poignant work, a joy and a

challenge to read ... '

from the foreword by Archbishop Rowan Williams

About this book .... ‘It’s all here: sex, pain, love and death. Do we know what we really want in life - what would truly satisfy us? Do we wonder what God wants for us or from us? There is some surprises here for people who do. We face a bewildering variety of choices. What is the heart of life is to be found in this disorder? This wise, funny and challenging book can help us al to think again about the most important things in our lives. beware: it may inspire you in ways you least expect. It may release holy wildness in you’ ..... (from back cover)

Here is a taster .... from the chapter called

“Let there be" - invitation, imagination and the work of creation

God is useless.

I mean, he serves no purpose.

He does not need a reason to exist.

Being God is not a job. No one appointed him.

He is complete in himself.

He just is.

And that means creation is useless too. God did not need to create the world. He was not lonely or lacking in any way.

He does not need our love or worship. So we are not here to make a point. We are not a divinely manufactured product. This world exists simply because God takes pleasure in it.  It is free gift sustained in divine delight - a work of boundless imagination.

Evidence for this is everywhere. For one thing there is too much in this world that is simply unnecessary. Creation is wildly extravagant but none of it is just for show. You never reach the edge of plastering or see where the paint stops when God is at work. This inexhaustible, mind-blowing creativity pours out far beyond all sight and knowledge.

It is the children’s bedtime and we are looking through a new Bible Picture Book. It starts with the Garden of Eden. My heart sinks. Any parent knows the struggle to say something intelligent about pictures and text that are either hopelessly sentimental, plain wrong or which reduce the mystery of creation to a predictable, dull moral tale. There are few more misused and abused corners of the Bible than the creation stories.  We feel guilty because the Bible is the ‘Word of God’ and for Christians it ought to be alive with meaning.

That ancient story actually introduces us to a world that is excitingly open, pregnant with God’s creative presence and full of enticing possibilities. To be made in the image of a God of such unendingly creative imagination, is to find our own vocation as explorers and adventurers rather than employees of a huge wild life park or landscape gardeners. But these illustrations reveal just how hard we find it to tell these stories with any real imagination.  As a result they are powerless to awaken a vision that might seriously turn our world around and even change the way we live in it.

In the foreground an (apparently vegetarian) tiger is strolling past a sleeping lamb (‘Why isn’t he eating it, daddy? Isn’t he hungry?’). The rest of paradise is densely populated with similarly lethal combinations of species. Overhead the trees are groaning with fruit.

In the background, Adam and Eve stand naked (lightly tanned Caucasian), under the shade of an apple tree (is sunburn a risk in paradise?). Though the story says they were ‘naked and not ashamed’ the children’s book illustrator arrives just as they have walked behind a shrub with unusually wide leaves.

They are always just standing around in these picture books. They look vaguely content, smiling in their innocence, but as if they are waiting for some instructions to arrive. After all, what is there for a gardener to do in a perfect garden? Without corruption there will be no weeds. Without death there will be no leaves to rake.  What kind of dominion do they need to exercise in a creation so benignly ordered and complete?

The children quickly sense there is no excitement to be found in this garden and turn over to ‘David and Goliath’ or ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’. I confess I am glad to follow them.