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New Book Gets People Talking About Holy Renaissance | Arts & Culture

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New Book Gets People Talking About Holy Renaissance
Arts & Culture
New Book Gets People Talking About Holy Renaissance

For those who have ever joined the debate about whether the world was created from gravity, particles and the scientific realm or the actual hand of God, a new book is encouraging people to prepare for a “holy renaissance” by reorganizing our lives around Jesus.

Area residents including a pastor, a retired school official and an area music teacher, weigh in with their views on whether the renaissance should, will or is happening in the world as we know it.

When Donkeys Talk, by author Tyler Blanski, has just been published by Zondervan.  The author argues that “we are participants in God’s unfolding story of creation and redemption.”  He feels that “we get to make preparations for a holy renaissance.”

Why do we need a holy renaissance?  Wasn’t the one dating back to the 14th century enough for humankind?  Blanski states:

                        “We are on the cusp of another renaissance—

                        A God renaissance, a holy renaissance—for a

                        renaissance is what happens when new vision

                        and vitality rush into old truths and traditions.

                        People see themselves as part of something bigger

                        and beautiful.  They wake up. Minds and hearts

                        come alive.  History is changed.  We do not need to

                        obsess over what is new or how to ‘reach the culture.’

                        Renaissances don’t happen that way.  Renaissances

                        happen when people look back to what is good,

                        true, and truly beautiful and then live it in the

                        present tense, live it in their own unique way.” (30)


Dr. Bill Cansfield, a retired Grand Haven school district official who attends United Methodist Church of the Dunes, agrees with Blanski’s book.  He bases his views on what he has experienced throughout his lifetime, living through decades marked by war, violence, corruption and more.


“I feel we are in need of some kind of renaissance—holy or not—where peace, justice, understanding and compassion prevail among the diverse nations and peoples of the world.  The Renaissance (rebirth) in the 14th through the 17th centuries took hundreds of years and was named “The Renaissance” long after it was over.  We need to work toward it; we will not experience it but we must try,” said Dr. Cansfield.


Melody Schneider, regional music teacher and organist with United Methodist Church of the Dunes in Grand Haven and Temple United Methodist Church in Muskegon, agrees with Cansfield.  She feels we are ambassadors of God’s kingdom and are trusted with the mission of spreading the news of God’s reality, His love, His priorities, His plans, His preservation and purpose for humankind.


“I think a holy renaissance is always happening somewhere.  I think persecuted Christians in various parts of the world are going through it.  I have heard first-person stories of people in other cultures who were sincerely seeking God but felt lost, hopeless or completely disillusioned with whatever else they were trusting.  They had these experiences where God became very real in a dream, through a vision or through an unusual experience,” said Schneider.


“As they look at the world around them and the natural laws of gravity and the forces that hold things in place in the creation, people begin to ask questions about a general revelation, renaissance or some supreme power that is beyond us,” said pastor Jeff Bowman, with Temple United Methodist Church in Muskegon.


Blanski’s book raises the question of whether people are blind to the life of God around them.  So, he set out on what he refers to as a “Holy Pilgrimage” to rediscover the saints, stars and beauty of Christianity for the twenty-first century.  Blanski explores how to make a life application between the God of the ancient world as well as the modern world.


Blanski states:

                        “I’ve been like Balaam (Old Testament figure who rode

                        a donkey and was approached by an angel of the Lord). 

                        I’ve been blind to the life of God around me, too proud

                        to look under rocks or through a telescope in search

                        of something spiritual.  It never occurred to me that

                        the cherubim and seraphim and demons and God

                        himself are everywhere.” (111)


Pastor Bowman sees value in this statement because he feels people’s perceptions are flawed in their understanding of how to live more Christlike.

“Even as Christians, we use Jesus instead of becoming more like Him.  It’s like capitalizing on things.  Some people like Jesus but can’t stand the church.  Even if people read the Bible and they go to where Jesus is supposed to be found, they sometimes find people are judgmental.  We don’t see the benefit of Jesus,” said pastor Bowman.


If people should live more Christlike, how does that look to these area residents?  Is it possible to live and see the world guided by a hand greater than science and materialism?


“Christ-likeness is no different now than it was at the time of the disciples.  (It is) to be about the business of living and spreading God’s kingdom of priorities on earth by the same power that Christ did, by His Spirit.  It is meeting the legitimate needs of others spiritually and physically.  Sometimes I am Christlike (with patience, self-control, forgiveness) and other times I may react in a fleshly way (with resentment, fear or frustration).  I feel blessed and at peace when I act Christlike and I feel stressed, pressured and burdened when I react in a fleshly way,” said Schneider.


Dr. Cansfield feels that people can act more Christlike by studying the life of Christ and attempting to emulate His life.  This is observed by living a life that is a unique blend of compassion, rightness, humility and service.


“I, personally, have a journey yet to finish.  I think we all do.  The life of God is different for different people.  For me, God is within each of us—a still small voice—hopefully giving guidance and morality to our thoughts and actions,” said Cansfield.


“I think we miss huge instances of God’s interface with us when we are stubborn and confident in our own viewpoints.  Troubles and our own limitations are some of the ways God gives us a chance to humble ourselves enough to see Him.  I think this way because I have experienced it, myself.  I have found God in the most daily of times in little, yet huge ways that remind me that He is absolutely interested and involved in every aspect of my life,” said Schneider.


Blanski draws parallels between ancient and modern times, Christendom and Atomland (a world of materialists who believe only atoms, the laws of physics and the sheer physical world exist).  The book is an invitation to think outside the box of science and embrace the wonders of creation in Christendom:


                                    “Is it any wonder we moderns don’t believe Balaam’s

                                    Donkey could talk?  Our cult of facts and laws leaves

                                    no room for mystery or magic, no room for God.” (114)


Readers will marvel in this journey, pilgrimage and holy renaissance with Blanski as the book unfolds.  Rich with quotes from scripture, by famous theologians, scientists, thinkers and authors such as Albert Einstein, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Saint Cyprian and more, it is an invitation into God’s presence in the modern world.


Perhaps the best quote in the book is placed at the beginning, from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, which states:


                                    “How much happier you would be,

                                    how much more of you there would be,

                                    if the hammer of a higher God

                                    could smash your small cosmos.”


When Donkeys Talk is available in trade paper, as an ebook and in an audio edition.  Visit www.zondervan.com for further information.


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