Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl Movie
I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I am a fan of Nate Wilson’s engaging and thoughtful book Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, a poetically subversive piece of work against idolatry and for the gospel. You can read below an earlier post I wrote on it.
Now there’s a film companion, putting a lot of the content on film. It’s nicely done, and I hope it will take the message of the book to a new audience. WTS Books is running a 60% off special (so $8.79 instead of $21.99), with the sale ending on Tuesday, June 28.
Here’s the description:
An Idea Film. A Bookumentary.
A cinematic treatment of a worldview. A poet live in concert. A motion picture sermon. VH1 Storytellers meets Planet Earth. 60 Minutes meets Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In this unusual but fascinating film sequence, best-selling author N.D. Wilson gives an emotional and intellectual tour of life in this world and the final chapter that is death. Everything before and after and in between is a series of miracles—some of which are encouraging, others disturbing and uncomfortable.
Here’s the trailer, followed by some excerpts, followed by some endorsements:
“Combining stunning visuals with an entertaining and engaging text, Wilson yanks you out of the numbing sameness of your frenetic pursuit of what quickly passes and leads you to care about and inquire into things that are transcendent. Don’t watch it once. Watch it over and over again. It’s just that powerful and and important.”
—Paul David Tripp, Professor and Executive Director of Pastoral Life and Care, Redeemer Seminary; President, Paul Tripp Ministries
“This is a masterful and compelling use of God’s general and special revelation. Nate Wilson artfully brings the two together in this symbiotic blend of verbal and non-verbal word. If apologetics has more to do with persuasion than proof (as I think it does), this film is replete with apologetic depth and richness. The “poetry” of God is brought out in bold relief. Watch, learn and be persuaded of the Truth.”
—K. Scott Oliphint, Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary
“My friend Nate reminds me of C.S. Lewis and Jerry Seinfeld at the same time. Like Lewis, he has a white knuckle grip on philosophical themes and inquiries while at the same time using them in service to the gospel in a way that resonates with the real questions and concerns of our time. He’s also Seinfeldian in the sense that he has a remarkable knack to see usually ignored details. He has a keen eye for seeing God’s handiwork and finding gospel truth that many would overlook as every day, mundane things. Combine all this with a good sense of humor, remarkable creativity, humble confidence, and savvy vision and you have a trustworthy and fun guide showing you around. Highly recommended!”
—Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale
“The Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl Film Companion is a compelling medium for N.D. Wilson’s meditations on theology and the world in which we live. In these ten, short, video portraits, Wilson provokes us to consider the God who is there; the God who speaks into existence a lavish universe and all the stories of our lives; the God who, in turn, hides himself in the myriad details of those stories to be discovered by those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Wilson beckons us to stand on the edge of the storm; to confront our unbelief and petty fears so that the goodness and greatness of God might astound us and fill our hearts with gratitude and joy. I highly recommend this resource.”
—Scott Anderson, Executive Director, Desiring God
“Every time Nate Wilson opens his mouth my mind is bent a little bit, and this film is no exception. Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl throws out all assumptions and takes me on an adventure which ends with a bigger awe for God, a more mysterious world, and a thankfulness to be part of God’s big story.”
—Mike Anderson, The Resurgence, Mars Hill Church, Seattle
Here was my review of the book-version:
N.D. Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl is certainly unlike any book I’ve read before. I pity the publicist whose job it is to provide a soundbite or snapshot from the book!
How would one describe it?
Wide-eyed, look-ma-no-hands exuberant enjoyment on this spinning tilt-a-whirl we call Earth as it passes through its four seasons?
In-your-face mockery of the atheists and their god called Boom?
Full-throated defense of a good and sovereign God in a world of pain and evil?
A poetic exploration of eucatastrophe?
A gospel tract for postmodern times?
All of the above.
If I had to summarize it in a word, I’d choose provocative—in the old-fashioned sense of provoking, prodding, stimulating, inciting. To do what? To see and to sense and to smell the glory all around us.
Wilson is one of those literalists—he takes Solomon and Jesus seriously when they say to “observe the ant” and to “consider the lilies of the field.” Wilson doesn’t stare at them for a few minutes or look them up on Wikipedia–he gathers the kids and gets dirt on his chin and engages in delightful, obedient study.
And then he does the same with topics like heaven and hell, gospel and grief, wonder and disbelief.
The result—for those of us willing to following the biblical paradox of being childlike without being childish—is that we feel like fish being pulled out of the water for a few moments, finally able to see with new eyes what we have long taken for granted.
Calvin wrote about how God’s powers are portrayed for us as in a painting, that we stand within and enjoy the theater of God’s glory, and that the created world is a mirror of God’s divinity. If you want a faithful and creative exploration of what this means, Notes from the Til-a-Whirl will help you greatly enjoy the ride!
Publisher’s Weekly recently gave it a nice review:
Hold your breath and throw your hands in the air! This theological ride thrills with a colorful whir of profound and profoundly amusing meditations on creation, existence and God. Influenced by his evangelical Christian faith, Wilson (Leepike Ridge) uses an engaging, casual style in this personal notebook of spiritual thought as he offers readers a peek into his world of unapologetic wonder. Spinning through the pages, reflections on philosophers, theologians, leeches and kittens offer dazzling new perspective on the bright lights and dark corners of our carnival-like existence. Wilson’s most striking achievement in all his whirling musings is an ever-present insistence on optimism. Even when contemplating death, he cheerfully concludes that he will then have admission to “go on the gnarly rides” of immortality. Indeed, Wilson excels in his elegantly intricate arguments for hope: even a naked mole rat matters. Yes, the prose often jolts and reels on its paper track. It can be an unsettling ride. But that is the poetry of a tilt-a-whirl—the poetry of living.
And this is Doug Wilson’s explanation for the book:
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 through the four quadrants of one trip around the circumference, through the seasons of winter, spring, summer, autumn. Those who don’t get either thrilled or sick (or both) in the ride are those who, in the name of realism, resolutely ignore everything that is going on all around them, and they ignore it all day long.
As they are on display in this book, Nate’s gifts revolve around a very basic truth. He has the same ability that Chesterton had, that of making ordinary things seem extraordinary, and then with a start you realize that it is not a verbal trick — ordinary things are extraordinary. Why don’t we see that more often? I mean look at a walnut, for Pete’s sake.
A metaphor is a twisted and circuitous route that goes straight to the truth. Some metaphors are so convoluted that they get there right away. This book is just crammed with them.