A book of insights about finding Christian inspiration in nature.
Baker’s (Natural Conclusions from the Big Thicket, 2015) latest book, geared for students and adults and pitched in an easy, accessible prose style, finds spiritual teaching situations in the contemplation of the animal and plant life of the Rockies. Each of the book’s many short chapters begins with a natural fact, provides the “natural conclusion” and a bit of the underlying science about that fact, and then gives Baker’s view of the spiritual parallels of those facts. In this sense, the book joins a very long Christian tradition of teaching by allegory, and Baker early on signals his Christian target readership not only by including regular urgings to discuss concerns with God, but also with fundamentalist insults to the nonreligious, calling their worldview self-centered and noting their “shades-of-gray morality” and “situational ethical system.” But Baker’s Christian readers, even the citified ones who’ve never so much as hiked a trail in their lives, will find a great deal of inviting faith advice in these pages, all of it using natural facts like the protectiveness of moose for their calves, the seed-hoarding of chipmunks, and the needle-casting of pine trees. In the process of his pastoral instruction, Baker manages to impart a good deal of scientific information. The natural fact that “during hyperphagia in the fall, brown bears may eat up to ninety pounds of animal and vegetable material per day!” is followed up with the “natural conclusion” that “Christians need to feed on both the easy and difficult portions of scripture.” The follow-up projects suggested to bring home the practical side of the lessons are often hands-on and interesting—Christian instructors will find them heaven-sent.
The lessons of the natural world seen engagingly, but narrow-mindedly, through a scriptural lens.