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White China White China
Finding the Divine in the Everyday

Molly Wolf
ISBN 0787965804 (9780787965808)
Jossey-Bass, 2005
£11.99

Category: Christian Life & Discipleship

What's in a name? If Phyllis Tickle — who writes this book's foreword — is correct, there's a lot about Molly Wolf's writing that echoes her name: it's warm and welcoming (Molly), but it bites (Wolf). I'd say she's right: these pieces do just that, draw you in gently, kindly — but they're also sharp-edged, unafraid to face life as it is, hunting out truth where it seems elusive. You're welcome, they say, but you're not welcome to complacency!

Molly Wolf writes down to earth theology — "God-Talk" as she prefers to call it — offering reflections on life's experiences: as the subtitle of this book puts it, "Finding the Divine in the Everyday". You'll find no pie-in-the-sky disconnected mysticism here, rather you'll find slices of reality served up with a twist of lemon, a tang that makes you sit up and take notice and say, "Hey, why didn't I think of that?"

You'll find questions and doubt, assurance and conviction, insights and analysis — alongside a laugh-out-loud sense of humour and an openhearted willingness to weep in frustration and grief at life's injustices. There are eight chapters, each bringing together several pieces that explore a common but fairly loose thread: Creation, Being Human, Truths and Illusions, Answered Prayers, Saints Ancient and Modern, Lighten Our Darkness, Last Things and God-Stuff. The individual pieces vary in length - some you'll read in five minutes, others will take fifteen, maybe twenty, but each will give you pause for thought, making them an ideal read to start the day — perfect in my case for my daily bus journey into work.

Wolf lives by Lake Ontario, Canada, and is a woman who's evidently in touch with nature and the seasons, and as an Anglican she's also in tune with the liturgical year. She reflects, for example, on God's presence and absence as she kicks her way through autumn leaves drives through snowstorms. She works her way through Advent and considers the cost to God of becoming human — and the cost to Mary as she became the mother of God.

Some pieces start out from Scripture, exploring what a biblical passage has to say to us today; others start from life and find their way back to the Bible. She looks both life and the Bible straight in the eye, tackles issues such as failed relationships, trust betrayed, terminal cancer, death of loved ones — and like the psalmists, she isn't afraid to shout at God when he isn't coming through. Through it all a resolute faith keeps bringing her back, refusing to give up on this deity who refuses to give up on us no matter how badly we screw things up.

If you like your spirituality tuned in to reality, you'll appreciate Wolf's approach to life in White China — it's a book you'll want to lend to a friend: just be sure to write your name in it if you want it back.

Phil Groom, August 2005

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

Author's Website: Sabbath Blessings

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