Loren Wilkinson will launch his new book at Regent College December 7. He taught there for more than 40 years, and for half of that time was working on Circles and the Cross (Cascade Books, August 2023).
Peter Harris, co-founder of A Rocha, wrote in the Foreword: “. . . after a lifetime of deep commitment to the creation, cosmos and Christ, here is Loren’s most wonderful book.”
Following are two short reviews of the book, one by Irish poet Micheal O’Siadhail and the other by retired local teacher Rudi Krause
Loren Wilkinson’s Circles and the Cross: Cosmos, Consciousness, Christ and the Human Place in Creation is an extraordinary book where he makes a unique contribution to the understanding of faith in the contemporary world. It is a book which has been long awaited by those who have known him and who have read previous writings.
Many will recognize here themes adumbrated in his book of poems Imago Mundi. Now he brings to bear a lifetime of thought and reading on this his magnum opus. There is an incredible wide range of reference in multiple interwoven fields of human endeavour which lends weight and substance to the work.
Deeply rooted in the environment and aware of the timescale of the landscape, the author meditates on the cosmos posing two fundamental questions: Why is there anything and why are aware of it?
A core feature of Loren Wilkinson’s approach is both his fascination with science, which is underpinned by a profound respect for discovery, and a knowledge of how it can shape our view of the world. So often the residue of a mechanistic framework and a rationalistic search for certainty still sees a contradiction between science and faith, but science has sprung surprises which can only fill us with even greater awe and wonder.
Particularly insightful is how the origins of the environmental movement are seen in the Romantic movement and how it can in time so easily slip from a stewardship of creation into a form of pan-theism. Yet anywhere the author is critical of a different viewpoint, he always remains respectful.
In the fourth and final part of the book the concepts of incarnation and of kenosis or ’emptying-out’ – and the power of weakness in relation to the creator, creation and in consciousness – are explored. This view of love which is “precarious and vulnerable” is seen at the very heart of the cosmos.
This reader will be amazed by the unbelievable sweep of Loren Wilkinson’s mind and writing which is not only stunning in its depth and breadth but also in the up-to-dateness of his reading. He has taken the Prologue to John’s Gospel to heart and finds his God in ‘all things.’
‘The Centre of the Universe’ is inscribed on the Dominion Observatory on the Saanich Peninsula. This observatory – which once housed the largest telescope in the world – makes a cameo appearance in The Circles and the Cross.
Loren Wilkinson’s book explores the question, “What is the centre of the universe (cosmos)?” In one, simple, sense the centre of the universe is nowhere and everywhere. In another sense it is located in the ‘I’ (‘eye’) of human consciousness.
In a third sense, the cosmos can be understood to be centred around ‘wonder.’ The wonder of the cosmos – that it exists and how it exists in all its variety and beauty, and (on our planet) in its life-giving interdependence and multiplicity. But ‘wonder’ is also a verb; the book shows how our ability and need and desire to wonder at the wonder of the cosmos is at the root of science, art and religion (worship).
Circles and the Cross leads the reader through the development of human wondering, or making sense of the mystery and surprises of reality, showing that there need not be any opposition between science and religion, and finally culminating in the recognition that at the heart of creation (both cosmos and consciousness) lies one more wonder – the creative, self-giving, self-emptying love of God, seen in the cross but really evident in all of creation.
Circles and the Cross deals with big, deep and wide questions, but does so in a highly readable manner, weaving the ‘argument’ of the book together with the story of Loren and his wife, Mary Ruth, in their life-long exploration of these questions – not just through study, reading and thinking, but through their hands-on engagement with creation. The reader is left with a refreshed sense of wonder.
Rudi emailed: “A well-attended book launch on Galiano Island, the Wilkinsons’ home for the past 35 years, introduced their explorations – in work and thought – to their interested neighbours. After Loren read portions of the book there was a break with food and drink. In the second half of the evening, the documentary (Making Peace with Creation), which parallels the book, was shown.”
Today (November 30) only: A 50 percent discount on the book is available at the Wipf and Stock site.
And keep in mind the Regent College Bookstore Christmas Sale, December 11 – 16: “New books and used books will be 20% off and yellow-stickered books will be an extra 20% off!”
Go here to read Loren’s Preface to Circles and the Cross.