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The Wonders of Creation

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I wanted to feel more in awe of my Creator when I finished this book. Instead, I felt a burden impossible to move. The second essay especially left me feeling like I could do nothing to help with the horrible state of the planet.
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I will read just about anything on Lewis and/or Tolkien, and to have a book that combines the two is an automatic perk for me!

Page does a good job at assessing each author's take on the environment and stewardship, aligning them with Scripture and giving the reader a number of practical takeaways. No matter where the reader may fall on the political spectrum, we can each find something positive here.

There was a bit of a blunt comment midway through about how evangelical conservatives were the least likely bunch to be concerned about environmental stewardship. This was a bit off-putting to me, perhaps because I am an evangelical conservative for the most part, LOL! So it did hit home, as it should have--but I also felt like it was an imbalanced statement that could alienate the reader or shut down the conversation instead of keep the dialogue going (ergo defeating the purpose or point she was trying to make). A few other comments down the line had the same effect, to me at least.

That aside, this is a solid read, with plenty of footnotes (I can feel my TBR list growing!). A bit academic at times; some sections were more interesting and easily digestible than others, but all certainly provided food for thought, whether or not I agreed with it all.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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The Wonders of Creation
Learning Stewardship from Narnia and Middle-Earth
by Kristen Page
Pub Date 29 Nov 2022 
 InterVarsity Press,  IVP Academic

I am reviewing a copy of The Wonders of Creation through Intervarsity Press and Netgalley:

When authors such as C.S Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams employ their imaginations and sets characters in a new location, they are in a sense creating a world. Could such fictional worlds give us a deeper appreciation for our own?

Many Readers have found themselves transported by C.S Lewis to Narnia like the Pevensie children.  They have traveled  from Lantern Waste to Cair Paravel and the edge of the sea. Thanks to J. R. R. Tolkien, readers have also journeyed with Bilbo, Frodo, and their companions across Middle-earth from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain, the forest of Mirkwood, the mines of Moria, and the very fires of Mount Doom. But as often as we enter these fictional worlds as readers, we eventually return to our world refreshed with sharpened insight. In The Wonders of Creation, biologist Kristen Page explores the beloved fictional landscapes of Narnia and Middle-earth in order to discover what we might learn about real-life landscapes and how to become better stewards of God's good creation.

The Wonders of Creation is based on the annual lecture series hosted at Wheaton College's Marion E. Wade Center, volumes in the Hansen Lectureship Series reflect on the imaginative work and lasting influence of seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.

I give The Wonders of Creation five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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As Someone who's Read Lord of the Rings & The Chronicles of Narnia, I Can Guarantee You Will Enjoy Reading this Book.
(Thanks to Net Galley for this Book).
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Delightful book to read. Page’s passion for both creation and literature is palpable and serves to both call Christians to action as well as cast a vision of biblical stewardship. Page used Tolkien and Lewis to convey how fiction can be a beautiful means of helping readers re-orient their perspectives and reconsider their ways. 
This is a very encouraging and convicting read and can easily recommend it to anyone who is interested in nature and/or literature. Ultimately, this work serves as an act of worship and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to join Page in it.
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If you love Chronicles of Narnia & Lord of the Rings… this book just might be for you. 

The Wonders of Creation take lessons they gleaned from these two well loved books. These lessons find themselves rooted in biblical principles that help us, the reader, to also learn these leadership and stewardship principles. 

This book is an anthology of sorts. With a different writer for each section (3 sections total) offering a similar yet different biblical perspectives in their response to Kristen, who writes from the perspective of nature and seeing creation at work in Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia.

If you walk away with nothing from this book, it will likely be a renewed appreciation for creation and literature.
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The Wonders of Creation by Kristen Page is based on her series of three lectures at Wheaton. There are three main chapters/sections each followed by responses from colleagues in different disciplines. 

For the first two sections, the discussion of Tolkien and Lewis was used more as an illustration for the author’s arguments rather than an analysis of those writers and their works, which wasn’t quite what I was expecting. In the third section, however, the use of those authors’ works was much more developed and connected to the chapter. This was definitely my favorite section of the book. 

The three responses to the sections written by scholars of other disciplines reflected on the points made and connected them to their own disciplines, which broadened the perspectives on the topic, but were more personal and not necessarily critical responses to the chapters. 

I learned some new things by reading this book and ended up with a lot of footnotes highlighted to do more research on. There were points that I felt, though, like the author was starting from a base point that may be different for different readers and so needed more explanation or support depending how much they’ve considered about environmental topics. However, if you’re interested in environmental studies and thinking about how what we read shapes us, you’ll find this book interesting.
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The Wonders of Creation is a set of three essays exploring our attitudes to creation through the consideration of imagined worlds, namely those created by Christian authors CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien.
These imagined worlds may seem fanciful when compared to our world, although it had me thinking whether the inhabitants of Narnia or Middle Earth may well feel the same about parts of our amazing world ! But when we read about these worlds, it does trigger our sense of wonder, that can in turn bring us into a place of observing our own environment with fresh eyes.
The final essay, which focused on the importance if wonder, is especially of interest. It shows that an attitude of wonder and awe for creation will lead us to knowing our place in it, understanding its purpose and developing in us a healthy attitude to protecting and caring for the created world. The response to this should be for us to be more concerned to care for the creation around us, to steward our world better and perhaps even begin to worship its Creator.
Each of the three essays has a written response from three different contributors, offering a helpful insight into how we may respond, whether in attitudes or actions.
We have an infinitely creative God, and we, made in His image, are blessed with the gift of imagination. As authors, artists, poets, dancers, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs or whatever outlet we have for this creativity, we can use this gift to reflect something of the glory of God. Knowing that whatever we can imagine and wonder at about God's creativity here, is likely to surpass our imaginations when we see His creativity in heaven.
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This book is based on a lecture series on understanding the role Christian’s have in climate change and what Christian stewardship means, through the Lens of the fictional landscapes from the Inklings’ works. A fascinating idea, but half of the book is “responses” from 3 other scholars, mainly praising Page, and not adding much to the academic conversation IMO. The transitions between ideas and texts within each “lecture” could also be choppy. It also felt dragged out (it took me 3 weeks to read, and it’s not long at all!). Apparently the lecture videos are available online, and once I learned that, I’d recommend watching rather than reading the lecture series.
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The primary content is based on three essays (originally lectures) from Kristen Page arguing Christians need to be better stewards of creation. Conservation can be inspired through literature and Page leans on the worlds of Lewis and Tolkien. I am appreciative of the essays and the challenge to care for creation. Each of the the three essays contained a response, which was nothing more than a brief praise for the essay and added nothing of sustenance.
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Thanks NetGalley and InterVarsity Press for the ARC in exchange for review!

This book is less reflection on Lewis and Tolkien (and five others) and more on touting Kristen Page herself. There are only three essays she herself has written and then there are three response essays written by others talking about how great Page’s ideas are. Personally, I’d rather come to my own conclusions from listening to the author talk and not from people talking about the author. My own conclusions: Page has interesting points I need to think on more but overall I can’t quite meet her there (yet?).
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‘The Wonders of Creation’ consists of three essays by Kristen Page, along with a written response for each by varying authors (Christina Bieber Lake, Emily Hunter McGowin, Noah Toly). Each piece of writing - both the essays and responses - were fascinating, and I found Page’s perspective really refreshing.

Page’s essential argument is that conservationists are often drawn to their work through an emotional connection to landscapes, something that can often be inspired through literature. She draws upon Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C. S. Lewis’ Narnia to demonstrate this - for example, the sense of familiarity that is generated through Tolkien’s Shire being based on the West Midlands in England. 

I loved her idea that fiction inspires people, changing their view of nature and stewardship. A particular quote that drew me was, ‘now, when I walk through forests and trip over a root, I wonder if it was my clumsiness or the forest’s intention’. Page really made me think and feel such enthusiasm for being outdoors! 

Following this, Page also makes the claim that fictional characters / landscapes challenge people to action in conservation. While those in a more privileged position may not see pollution outright, literature and the arts allow for greater access to it. The use of emotion and the creation of lament by authors, she suggests, is also important for creating change. 

In her final essay, Page mentions the importance of wonder. She observes that it is often in short supply nowadays - hard to find in a modern, artificial age. Nonetheless, it is something that can be found in literature and even in the Psalms in the Bible as David speaks of the wonders of creation. 

Overall, I enjoyed ‘The Wonders of Creation’ as a piece of writing - most prominently for the originality of it. Literature and the environment / conservation are two things I’ve always been passionate about! I would recommend this wholeheartedly.
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If you are a fan of Tolkien and/or Lewis then you'll want this for your library. The added benefit of using these world-making writers to inform our stewardship of creation brings an unusual and worthwhile angle. Worth reading.
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This is a fascinating read! Through three essays, Page explores the lessons that we can learn from the work of Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, the landscapes that they created and how their characters respond to them. Through the positive and negative relationships to these landscapes that the characters exhibit and through how the worlds are created by the authors, Page shows the importance of being connected to nature and looking after it. She connects this to biblical stewardship and the importance of caring for Creation. Each essay is followed by a response from a colleague, each of whom reinforces her ideas with their own stories and experience. A brilliant book for helping with our connection to nature, understanding our place within it and showing us how we can look after it.
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The relevance of this book is HUGE!  Christians nowadays needs to remind lessons to pratice the word of God in every little aspect of life, that include Enviroment. And We must hurry up at thinking about doing somenthing to -if not end to this, because we already are running out of time- at least decrease its impact, because climate change is not simply a political thought, It is a fact and We're  all suffering its consequences. I enjoyed and was inspired by the narrative pretty much.
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The Wonders of Creation by Kristen Page is 3 essays and their responses.
This was a very quick read, and it set off to do what it claimed to do. It talked about how you can use Lord of the Rings and Narnia to enhance how you take care of nature. The first essay is the most devoted to this, the other two are less about that and more about Christianity. The essays were well written, with plenty of quotes and the correct format. I do not think the actual information was expanded on enough. Also the responses were essentially just praising the author of the essays rather than about the actual essays. 
I would recommend this book to people who are looking for reasons to care about the planet more, and looking for a way to view it. I would not recommend to anyone who is not Christian.
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This was absolutely wonderful and fascinating especially for one who loves Narnia! This is one I'll return to again and again. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.
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Dr. Page uses the pivotal works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to emphasize how important stewardship of the earth is for Christians in these three lectures. 

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the stories of Narnia and Middle Earth through this lens. and Dr. Page made some strong arguments about how those who have "privilege would hide the truth that creates discomfort" when it comes to sustainability and the impact of humans on the earth. It was a challenge to me to think of more ways my lifestyle can be sustainable!

The last lecture emphasizes the importance of wonder in a Christian's life and how being in nature can help us encourage the sense of wonder in ourselves. "When we fail to exercise wonder and delight in the natural world, we open ourselves up to the risk of following Saruman's lead by believing that we have discovered new and better ways to shape creation and utilize its resources."

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the eARC of this book!
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The book, part of the Hansen Lectureship Series from Wheaton College, consists of three lectures by Page, and each lecture includes a response. The introduction is by Walter Hansen,

Stepping Out of the Wardrobe: Searching Fictional Landscapes to Guide Our View of Our Own World
Response by Christina Beiber Lake
Chapter one introduces the concept of fictional landscapes in Tolkien and Lewis’ work. Page explains that both authors were intimately acquainted with the natural world and this familiarity lent to lush, filled-out, fictional settings. She excerpts passages describing the destructions of Narnia and the Shire, discussing the emotional response that these scenes elicit in readers.
A Lament for Creation: Responding to the Groaning of God’s World
Response by Noah Toly
Chapter two shifts its emphasis to the created world in which we live, with discussion about how decisions by one group of people affect other groups of people— and the world’s ecological systems, at large. Page also discusses a harmful cultural phenomenon: Christians, despite receiving the call to stewardship in the Bible, are those who are least likely to believe that the earth needs to be stewarded.
Ask the Animals to Teach You: How to Regain Wonder and Rejoin the Chorus
Response by Emily Hunter McGowin
Chapter three highlights the importance of wonder, in recognizing the glory of God and cultivating an appropriate relationship with what He created.

What I Liked

The book’s premise drew me in, first because of the literary/fantasy emphasis on the works of Lewis and Tolkien and second because of the stewardship correlation. Stewardship is something that the Lord has strongly emphasized to my mom and I over the past several years, and He has led my mom to design our yards to create a bird/wildlife/pollinator sanctuary. Plus, Meadow Arc is sectioned into various cultural and literary spaces, including “Baggins” and “Narnia.” (It is a lovely landscape and a work in progress.) In some ways, this book felt like it was written especially for me.

There was an argument I really liked in the first section— something to the extent that stories can make arguments that people wouldn’t ordinarily be willing or able to hear. I’ve seen this in very positive ways, such as when the Lord uses books to speak to me. On the other hand, this is also a reason why I’m so adamantly in favor of promoting good books— because bad books can promote messages that people wouldn’t otherwise be receptive to.

Page’s argument is linked to the theme of stewardship in Narnia and Middle Earth, and I feel that this is a positive instance where otherwise unreceptive readers are invited to consider a new perspective, through literature. Conservative Christians are often fond of Tolkien’s and Lewis’s work, but less open to discussions about the importance of taking care of the world God has given us. I think that The Wonder of Creation, along with the original books, themselves, are eye-opening resources for those who have eyes to see.

I enjoyed the excerpts from the books, as well as the commentary that illuminated some familiar passages in a new light. The close readings were fun and insightful.

One point that really stood out to me was that the Hebrew word used in Genesis in the call to take care of the earth is the same term used later on in commissioning temple workers. This is significant and beautiful to think about!


This book is definitely “challenging” for Christians, especially Conservative Christians— in the best way. I have no content notes.

Recommendation Status

Highly, highly recommended! This work has a strong academic quality (it is, after all, part of a lecture series). For this reason, I could see it integrated into curriculum about Inklings authors, at either the high school or the college level. (I had the opportunity to study the Inklings during my undergraduate experience at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, and I could definitely see this book being integrated!)

I would also recommend the title for those who are big fans of C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien.
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