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the book that made my birthday

November 23, 2011

Saturday evening friends three doors down threw a dinner party.  For something like 30 people.  We’d been asked to come prepared with something for which we were thankful.  Shortly after I arrived a guy I didn’t know asked me what I was most thankful for. I replied, “I’m most thankful I’m in God’s story.” Then I explained:

I’m thankful that God is the Maker of all things, and that he’s still working in the world and in me. In other words, I’m thankful I’m part of the bigger, deeper, true story.

Well, my grandmother sent me a check in my birthday card, enough money for a book or two, or clothes, which I suppose I need more, but I’m a bit like Erasmus, who is rumored to have said, “When I get a little money, I buy books.  And if there’s any left I buy food and clothes.”  So, I ordered a hardcover copy of Vishal Mangalwadi’s The Book That Made Your World: how the Bible created the soul of western civilization.  Dr. Mangalwadi is India’s foremost Christian intellectual today, according to Christianity Today.

Mangalwadi explains his purpose in writing The Book That Made Your World in the final paragraph of his preface:

A cursory glance may give an impression that this is a book about the Bible.  Those who actually read it will know that this is about great literature and great art; great science and liberating technology; genuine heroism and nation building; great virtues and social institutions.  If you have a zillion pieces of a puzzle, would you begin assembling them into one picture, without knowing what that picture is supposed to look like?  The Bible created the modern world of science and learning because it gave us the Creator’s vision of what reality is all about.  This is what made the modern West a reading and thinking civilization.  Postmodern people see little point in reading books that do not contribute directly to their career or pleasure.  This is a logical outcome of atheism, which has now realized that the human mind cannot possibly know what is true and right.  This book is being published with a prayer that it will help revive a global interest in the Bible and in all the great books.

So the history of the west, the rise of the modern world, is tied up with the Bible and its deep influence forming our culture.  No wonder I get excited when I hear that story, because its been profoundly shaped by the same story that’s shaping me: an old, old story woven through creation, fall, promise, redemption at Jesus’ cross, mission to push back the effects of our collective brokenness, and one day all tears will be wiped away when Christ returns.  Or as my favorite children’s storybook Bible says ,“God would love his children — with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”  The love that will not let us go has given many sons and daughters of the west the courage to stand in the face of tyranny, to work unceasingly in the face of evil, and to love in the face of death.

But what about the injustices, the imperfections, the brokenness of individuals and institutions?  That’s why I answered the question with thankfulness for being in God’s story – I’m in the middle, I’m a work in progress, but I’m banking on the love of God for me, and the love of God for this earth and all he made. At the end of the day, the shape of my hope can be found all over western culture, and increasingly in the majority world as well: the cross of Christ.  My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.  And that’s cause for thanksgiving!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Hannah permalink
    November 23, 2011 3:33 pm

    Wow! Beautifully said! I’m thinking I may have to find a copy of Mangalwadi’s book for myself :).

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