Michael REAGAN, editor, Reflections on the Nature of God. Introduction by Martin E. Marty. Philadelphia and London: Templeton Foundation Press, 2004. pp. 160. $19.95 ISBN 1-932031-69-3.
Reviewed by Jill RAITT, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211

Reflections is both a beautiful coffee table book and a spiritual companion. It consists of truly remarkable photographs and some well-chosen quotations from all times and places and kind of humans. Martin E. Marty's Introduction sets the tone by admitting that reflections on the nature of God must be humble, partial, insightful, but always a word, never the whole story.

The first section of photographs in this striking collection are from the National Geographic Image Collection, from NASA, and other major space archives such as the European Space Agency. The next sections come from professional photographers and take us to the ocean, to the heart of a flower, to the power of a tiger, or set us before the glory of a sunset over a wide river. All provide not just food for thought, but an awed reverence at the great and the little wonders of this universe.

I have to admit, though, that the pictures of galaxies, glorious and remarkable as they are, are beyond my grasp. How can one imaging thousands of miles of light years let alone billions? The photos bring them down to the dimensions of a page where they delight by their strange shapes, colors, wisps and sparkles. That little blue point is a new-born star bigger than our sun? Really? Wow! But I can't imagine it even with its baby picture before my eyes. I'm more at home with the zebra, the hippo and even the cobra. They are somehow more creaturely because their proportions match mine. But the galaxies are also creatures and so point to their Creator. A quotation from Tillich tells us that "Creator" is itself a symbol for a relation to God. Somehow before all of creation and the telescopes and photos made available by human inventiveness, I echo Bosuet's anticipation of heaven as a long "Ahhhhhh."


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