Skip to main content

Death by Living

Death by Living : Life Is Meant to Be Spent, N. D. Wilson



Death by Living by N.D. Wilson

Taking a wild ride down the Snake River is an episode in terror for some, but never getting into the raft is a choice altogether different.  N.D. Wilson, poet, writer of adventurous fiction and father to five takes a unique approach in his book entitled Death by Living.  Remarking that many people go through life barely living but just passing through, N.D. carefully pieces together the beauty of the story that God writes of our lives and the ways we fumble through trying to see this story unravel.  What takes place is N.D.’s introspective focus into the wild ride of life, including bedtime stories with an endless series of hyphens, taking his family with cousins from London to Rome in a van, and dealing with the death of loved ones.  The book is brimming with hope, the kind not seen by a Hallmark card but the kind of anticipation that comes from a father reuniting with his family after a long trip. 

N.D. has a fascinating way of making theology sing in this book that is both refreshing and annoying.  Early on in the book he writes, “Understand this: we are both tiny and massive.  We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word himself” (6).  The complementary of the whole human being is unique from the outset, being made from dust and bearing the divine image of God.  Why is N.D.’s description here refreshing?  For one, he is not trying to dissect all the possible meanings of image of God but seeing the grand scope of the narrative that we find ourselves in.  Creating both the earthiness and splendor of man in words captures the narrative found in the early chapters of Genesis as well.  Annoying is the way in which theologians or commentators focus in such minutiae of the text that we lose sight of the large scope of God’s dealing with the created order.  And yet, as Wilson indicates, “Those who love to talk about Story rarely attempt to read much past their own immediate moment, and that not well” (7).  We look beyond the ordinary and rhythmic movements of life for some grander notion of what this thing called living is all about.

The memories of his grandfather comes together beautifully in the book.  N.D. writes, “Instead, he gave those kids what they could never buy for themselves, what they could never find on their own.  He gave them the memories of a boy on a Nebraska farms with brothers, a boy trying to break a wild prairie mustang.  He gave them memories of his mother, born in a sod dugout in the prairie grass” (116).  Further on down the page Wilson writes that “He chose a passage of Scripture for each of their children and their spouses, and for each of their children.  Forty-six souls (and counting)” (116).  The rare combination of retelling a life’s story alongside the deep wells of faith that he holds onto is most apparent here in the life of his grandfather.  If there is one key ingredient in the main meal of this book, it is the wisdom to spend one’s life to the full, not in useless endeavors, but in the cavernous depths of laughter, thankfulness and obedience to a God who never quits writing our story. 

You don’t want to miss this book.  You’ll belly laugh at points, you’ll be moved with great grief and pain, but you won’t leave reading this book without a passion for the story of what God is doing for people who live full lives, with wine and beer too. 


Thanks to BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for the copy of this book in exchange for review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…