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    Review Ending Note: The Organic God

    July 18, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    So here I am, having come full circle. My journey through this book has been different than I expected, and yet good. I began by explaining that reading the book is a struggle for me, because it is difficult to separate the ideas from the person. However, after spending much more time on all of this than I ever planned to, including creating a detailed outline of one of the chapters, I think I have discovered the key to my angst.

    The difference between current, popular methods of thinking and the classical method of thinking and learning is distinct. Even though I never attended a classical school, never received a classical education, and never intensely studied formal logic or reasoning, I have recently, through preparing for the new school year, realized that this is how I think and process information. Even though I tend to make many connections while reading, I still read and write in a linear manner.

    The Organic God does otherwise. I will use the chapter entitled amazingly wise as an example. Various true statements about God’s wisdom, or man’s ability to aquire wisdom are sprinkled throughout the chapter. These little gems are held together by the story of the author’s college experience. The chapter begins with Feinberg’s applying for college, and includes anecdotes from her freshman, sophmore, and even senior years. It is the story that holds it all together, not the reasoning.

    I have created a graphic to help explain this idea, based on the first half of the chapter:

    If one approaches the graphic as a clock, twelve-noon would be the beginning of the chapter, and then the various truisms would be approached clockwise. The general idea of the chapter is God’s wisdom, and all of the little truths reinforce that general idea. But one travels around the circle through the narrative, not through any force of argument.

    By argument, I mean a process of reasoning. This is not to be confused with a desire for contention.

    Because the story causes movement rather than argument, one learns much more about the author than one does The Author.

    Now, allow me to reorder the boxes in a linear, logical progression according to the classical method of learning {the Trivium}:

    {Yes, I left out the Maya Angelou box. I just couldn’t figure out where it would fit.} Here I have, as an intent to study God’s attribute of wisdom, a progression that begins with grammar and ends with rhetoric. Grammar {meaning the basic facts one must know before beginning the discussion} would start it off. This is important since the prevalence of poor education means one should never assume a high level of prior knowledge. The first two boxes are grammar level. The definition of wisdom is given, along with an explanation of what the absence of wisdom looks like. Finding wisdom in Scripture brings about the transition from grammar to logic.

    Scripture is where one can learn more than just the basic facts. The logic level involves understanding the dynamics of the subject. God’s giving Feinberg what is best rather than what she prefers, God answering prayers, all of the bits learned about wisdom here fall into the logic category. Then, one can move on to rhetoric, skillfully applying what has been learned and understood. Falling into this category would be the last two boxes, containing one positive and one negative. The negative is what would not be done and the positive is what will be done {living the best possible life}.

    Most of the same stories could be told. But the reordering into a linear model seeking to understand God and His wisdom does a most important thing: it places God in the center. If the force of the narrative of Feinberg’s life is what moves the reader through the pages, then she herself is subject of the book, regardless of the thesis statement. Only when the paragraphs are reordered can it be said that one will really come away understanding more about God.

    If this were a memoirs, I would not be making these statements. After all, the point of reading a memoirs is to learn about a person’s life, and anything that person learned about God is somewhat incidental. But this book seeks to help a reader understand, and therefore love God. I would say that, with its current memoirs-styled approach, it is much more likely to inspire admiration and affection for Feinberg herself.

    I am sure this was not deliberate. I found Feinberg to be intriguing and very likeable. I am sure that a cup of coffee with her in my living room would be a fabulous way to spend the afternoon. The unfortunate fact about the postmodern writing style is that it is ultimately man-centered, despite the author’s best intentions. This is why I believe logical, linear argument to be of the utmost importance when addressing this sort of subject.

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    4 Comments

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts May 11, 2011 at 4:41 am

    You’re welcome! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Howard Fisher May 11, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for the review. It helped confirm my thoughts about the book.

  • Reply Brandy July 20, 2007 at 5:16 am

    Hi Lydia! πŸ™‚

    I’m glad you thought the diagrams helped. I must say, I was never much for diagrams, but my husband is a Diagram Master, and I’ve learned their importance as a tool over the last few years.

    I checked out your link to Let Them Eat Cake. There weren’t any reviews yet–looks like maybe it’s not quite out yet? I am with you on not mentioning a work unless I have read it or am at least in the process of preparing to read it. I am completely unfamiliar with the author, too, so I wouldn’t know what to expect from it.

    I guess I don’t usually say whether or not my readers should read the books I review. Honestly, it never dawned on me to do so!

    So, what would I say?

    Well, it’s a nice little read. It’s milk, not meat (spiritually speaking), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think that most every book has sand and gold all mixed together, and if a reader can learn to sift through that, their mind can be sharpened through the sifting process, plus they get to keep the gold at the end as a prize! I definitely found some gold in The Organic God, even though I found sand, too.

    However, sometimes in my life I have been so crunched for time (this is code for “had a newborn”) that I really had to boil it down to the essentials. This meant Scripture and a couple really encouraging MommyBlogs. I couldn’t even handle a book because of the exhaustion. So I suppose it kind of depends on where a reader is at in life, too.

    Sorry to be so vague, but I hope it helps a bit.

  • Reply Lydia July 19, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Wow! This was such a thorough explanation of how the author expresses her thought. I loved your diagrams too. πŸ™‚

    I agree that the linear model for conveying ideas would be superior to the web approach in this particular book. I have not read the book and I am not sure I want to based on what you wrote but it might be something to provide good reflection if held up to Scripture as the standard.

    BTW, have you heard of the book, “Let Them Eat Cake” by Sandra Byrd? It is a Christian fiction work recently published. I was asked to either mention it on my blog or write a review of it but it sounds like a bit of an odd book to me. Not that it is a bad book but maybe not something that would be the best use of my time in reading. I don’t feel right about mentioning it on my blog if I haven’t read it first.

    Anyway, just wondered if you had heard of it or had any thoughts about it.

    Thanks for all the work you put into this review. I know writing a detailed review can be incredibly time-consuming. πŸ™‚ I would like to know whether you would recommend this book to others to read. Maybe you don’t give blanketed endorsements or discouragements from reading a book but that is something I would like to hear based on your review of the book.

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