Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is, in my mind, a grand slam! It features one of my favorite poets (George Herbert), possibly the most prolific evangelist of history (George Whitefield), my all-time favorite author (C.S. Lewis), all tied together by my go-to theologian (John Piper). Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is part 6 in Piper’s series called “The Swans Are Not Silent.”
George Herbert was a pastor of a small country church and a prolific poet who wrote almost all of his poems uniquely. “Of the 167 poems in The Temple, 116 are written with meters that are not repeated,” which even modern poets find astounding. George Whitefield spent more hours of his life preaching than he did sleeping, and he spoke with such a captivating style that he was quite possibly the first celebrity of the American colonies. C.S. Lewis wrote everything from history to fantasy, autobiography to poetry, theology to children’s novels. Peter Kreeft says of him, he “was not a man: he was a world.”
John Piper finds in all three of these men a common thread: They all were able to not only see the beauty of God in everything, but they were able to express it in a beautiful way that drew in others to see the beauty of God for themselves. Pastor John calls this “poetic effort.”
Pastor John also wrestles with how the profound creativity and eloquence of his three subjects meshes with the apostle Paul’s admonition that human eloquence could drain the Cross of Jesus of its power (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5). He concludes that poetic effort for the sake of exalting the speaker or poet does turn people’s eyes to man and away from God. But that poet, evangelist, or author that uses the beauty in God’s creation to point people to the Creator is doing so in a way in which God is supremely exalted. This, Pastor John says, is exactly what Herbert, Whitefield, and Lewis have done, and done so well that their poetic efforts are still fruitful and God-glorifying long after their deaths.
Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is a wonderful book for those who enjoy biographies, theology, or the craft of skilled artisans. If you don’t know about the poems of George Herbert, the preaching of George Whitefield, or the vast library of literature of C.S. Lewis, let this book be your doorway to a rich new world of discovery, enjoyment, and God-glorification.
It’s only happened twice in American history: A father and son both serving as President. The first was John Adams and John Quincy Adams, then George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. But only once has the son written a memoir about his father, and that is 41: A Portrait Of My Father.
In the book’s preface, President George W. Bush writes, “Over the years, I suspect there will be many books analyzing George Herbert Walker Bush, the man and his presidency. Some of those works may be objective. This one is not. This book is a love story—a personal portrait of the extraordinary man who I am blessed to call my dad.” What a perfect description of this book, for indeed it is a love story, and a very moving one.
President Bush (the 43rd President) does an amazing job showing the “stuff” that went into making President Bush (the 41st President) the man that he is. It also helps us to then understand the decisions that 41 made throughout his extensive political career. I also appreciated reading how 43 used his personal, eye-witness experience with his Dad as material for his presidential decision-making.
This was a unique way to write a biography, and I found it very engaging and heartwarming. A truly great read!