Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Captive to Christ - A Short Review

Captive to Christ, Open to the World by Brian Brock is not an ordinary theology book. The book, in fact, is not really "by" Brian Brock at all; instead it is a collection of interviews with Brock which are split up into eight chapters.

Film reviewer Roger Ebert once said that what matters in a film is not only what it is about but how it is about it. Something similar could be said for Brock's book. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about, other than merely repeating the title (which actually captures the essence of the book perfectly). But what is fascinating about the book is its unusual style and the way in which Brock thinks about various subject matters. More than most books I've read, Brock displays a mind which has learned to think theologically. His is a way of seeing the world that is illuminated by God's reconciling action through Christ. Moreover, the light of this reconciliation shines on all things great and small, so that it becomes possible and necessary to think theologically about architecture, city planning, water charges, and all the other stuff that makes up the life we live.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Brock finishes the book by citing Terence Malick's The Tree of Life as the best piece of theology he had "read" in the last month. Malick and Brock share not only a Texas childhood, but a vision of the world as the theatre of divine glory. They understand their vocation as a summons to make this world known, to show us a different (attentive) way of seeing what is staring us in the face. For Malick, this task is fulfilled using a camera and the images of nature and grace which it can capture. For Brock, it is Scripture which transforms our seeing. In his hands this "book" becomes like one of Malick's lenses, showing us a reality more real than our narrow vision will allow. Our response to this reality can only be wonder, awe, and praise.

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