If we read enough, we are fortunate to find very few books that expound on problems we don’t often experience ourselves, and offer advice we are already taking. Then there are many books that we draw wisdom from, though it is specially applied to our own context and situation; while we see the author’s point about one’s x, we understand the underlying motive and how it can help us think about our y.
But then there are some books that make us feel like the author is not writing about his or her experience, but about our own. They use words that feel like our words, or that bring to life the groanings we thought too deep for words. We are amazed at God’s attention to our need of a well-timed word. These are books to be read carefully, and multiple times. You are grateful when you stumble upon a book that is not a waste of money, or paying for what you’ve already seen and heard, but when you get your money’s worth and more.
This third kind of book that I have mentioned explains my sentiment towards Mike Cosper’s latest book, Recpaturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World. Of course, perhaps it impacted me in the way it did because of my own spiritual journey and where I find myself. It could be explained away as coincidental, that I picked this book up in these moments and it resonated with me powerfully on the sheer reality of chance. That thought process would make a lot of sense in a disenchanted, the-God-who-is-not-there worldview. But with Cosper’s help, I’m working to wake up and smell the coffee, and I hope he can help you, too.
After outlining his eye-opening encounter with his own faith’s disenchantment in Chapter 1, Cosper invites us to discover our own with two action steps:
“First, we must understand that we already have a way of life. It’s not enough to say the world is disenchanted; we must also acknowledge that we are disenchanted, and that we did it to ourselves. We have embraces ways of living—habits, practices, and stories that we’re often unaware of—that prime us for disbelief and doubt…The second step is embracing a different story and, with it, a different set of habits and practices” (23).
This is not a typical book on spiritual disciplines. No “six steps to better Bible reading” will be found here. But there are “pathways” that follow the closing of each chapter, helping readers figure out how to take what Cosper has unpacked before and begin to implement it tangibly into real life. He believes that these habits are nothing to skimp on. “The power of habit,” Cosper writes, “is in the way it tunes our body and soul to anticipate a return to the rhythm. We’re primed for it, and when we’re starved for it, we’ll feel pangs of hunger” (63).
Cosper’s strength is how he combines a breadth of topics with depth of wisdom, without writing a 400-page book. As Russell Moore rightly notes, Cosper is “one of the keenest gospel Christian analysts of culture alive today.” And not only for the culture, but my heart as well. Out of the few dozen books I’ve read so far this year, Cosper’s is one of the most important I’ve read, one that is leaving me changed for the better, ready to do something different.
Cosper’s book offers a new look at how and why we pray, give, read Scripture, be present, find solitude, fast, order our life, and so much more. My copy is full of underlines, as Cosper has a real gift of being able to write with a poetic vigor that captures one’s attentions. I have already recommended it to many friends in conversation.
Some of Recapturing the Wonder‘s truths will sting us a little, but we will be better for it in the long run if we own our mistakes and begin to pursue a way forward. Cosper’s quote of Chesterton in the last chapter is a fitting word and challenge for our cultural moment as Evangelicals: “The problem of Christianity is not that it had been tried and found wanting, but that it had been found difficult and left untried.”