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In This World of Wonders
Memoir of a Life in Learning
HARDCOVER; Published: 1/16/2019
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7679-9
Price: $ 27.99
334 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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World-renowned Christian philosopher. Beloved professor. Author of the classic Lament for a Son. Nicholas Wolterstorff is all of these and more. His memoir, In This World of Wonders, opens a remarkable new window into the life and thought of this remarkable man.

Written not as a complete life story but as a series of vignettes, Wolterstorff’s memoir moves from his humble beginnings in a tiny Minnesota village to his education at Calvin College and Harvard University, to his career of teaching philosophy and writing books, to the experiences that prompted some of his writing—particularly his witnessing South African apartheid and Palestinian oppression firsthand.

In This World of Wonders is the story of a thoughtful and grateful Christian whose life has been shaped by many loves—love of philosophy, love of family, love of art and architecture, love of nature and gardening, and more. It’s a lovely, wonderful story.

Mark A. Noll
— University of Notre Dame
“The worlds of wonder that Nicholas Wolterstorff opens up in this affecting memoir include rural Dutch-America, a Kuyperian mind-set, analytical philosophy, humane pedagogy, art understood as craftsmanship, the deep realities (joy and sorrow alike) of family, and more. This book is as deeply moving as it is beautifully understated.”
James K. A. Smith
— Calvin College
“This marvelous memoir embodies everything I admire about Nick Wolterstorff. It is wise, humane, and beautiful, infused with love and a passion for justice. It is also wonderfully witty in a way befitting someone who taught us that God’s shalom is a world bursting with delight. I was absorbed by it, and when I put it down, I was grateful and inspired.”
Richard Mouw
— Fuller Theological Seminary
“I never took a course from Nick Wolterstorff, but he has been my teacher for the past half-century. The range of his contributions to the Christian life of the mind is amazing. But now, in this fine memoir, we get an even richer picture—a portrait of what it means to journey through life as an integrated person who exhibits in a very personal way a profound commitment to truth, beauty, and justice.”
C. Stephen Evans
— Baylor University
“Nicholas Wolterstorff’s memoir is a treasure. I literally could not stop reading it. Readers will find deep insights into such diverse worlds as small-town life, philosophy, the academic world, and the world of family and friends that we all inhabit. Wolterstorff provides a rich account of a life of Christian faith lived with integrity, an attractive picture of a version of Christianity that is open-minded and warm-hearted, rooted in gratitude and love for God’s creation and redemption.”
Eric Gregory
— Princeton University
“This colorful, revealing memoir defies stereotypes of analytic philosophers and modest Calvinists alike. It may not surprise those familiar with the life and work of Nicholas Wolterstorff, the leading light of a remarkable renaissance of Christian learning, that he could write such a moving book. But what a feast awaits readers old and new, religious and secular, academic or not. Opinionated but not grumpy, personal but not egocentric, Wolterstorff weaves his many loves—intellectual perplexity, politics, art, music, architecture, education, nature, and even the intricacies of Japanese ceramics and Danish furniture—into a compelling narrative of philosophical wonder and divine grace. Vintage Wolterstorff, In This World of Wonders bears witness to a generous Christian humanism sorely needed today.”
Jean Porter
— University of Notre Dame
“Nicholas Wolterstorff is best known as one of the leading figures in the revival of Christian philosophy. But to those who have had the good fortune to meet him, he is even more remarkable for his open-minded readiness to engage with anyone, to learn from anything, and to bring his keen critical intelligence to bear on the most unlikely subjects. This memoir reflects that open-minded spirit, as it brings out the many communities, events, and relationships that have shaped him. Warmly recommended.”
James Davison Hunter
— University of Virginia
“Wolterstorff’s memoir is a window into the recent history of modern philosophy, a light on the tangled engagement of Christianity with the late modern world, and—above all—a lens into a life and calling lived within and out of community. In This World of Wonders is a joy to read—illuminating, wise, and gracious as the man himself.”
Jeffrey Stout
— Princeton University
“How should one live? The question sounds abstract, as if a treatise were the expected answer. But the life for which you actually bear responsibility is your response, as the particular person you are, to the wonders and horrors in your midst, in a world that will not let you wait until all the evidence is in. This memoir by Nicholas Wolterstorff invites us to listen in while he reflects on what he has experienced and done. Here are the births, deaths, relatives, loves, associates, schools, churches, injustices, homes, struggles, projects, ideals, and patches of sedge that have mattered to him. If you have found any of his other books rewarding, you should certainly read this one.”
Jim Wallis
— Sojourners
“Nicholas Wolterstorff has contributed so much over the course of his life, and this memoir, told with incredible grace, humility, and charm, gives us a fascinating look at how his faith, theology, and commitment to justice have been shaped and put to use. Nick’s emphasis on learning and listening has blessed him with an incredible wealth of knowledge, from which we can all learn something that will in turn deepen our own faith, understanding, and love for the world in which we live. His is a life worth reading about, and he is someone I deeply admire.”
N. T. Wright
— University of St. Andrews
“If you ever thought philosophy dull, read this book and think again. Nick Wolterstorff describes the rich landscape of his life—art, music, love, grief, the academy, houses, travel, family, furniture, and much more—in a vivid, fast-paced, and deeply moving account. From these foothills there rise up the mighty peaks of his life’s work: justice, liturgy, peace, divine discourse, lament, politics, Reason, Being, Knowing. Seeing these in the context of Wolterstorff’s remarkable life, we see in new ways why they matter for all of us.”
David Neff
Christianity Today
“Nicholas Wolterstorff’s fingerprints are all over the better sort of American evangelicalism, from the revival of Christian philosophy to a reawakening of passion for social justice to the renewal of interest in liturgy and the arts. If you lived through these things, as I did, this book is for you.”
George Marsden
— University of Notre Dame
“No one in recent times has contributed more to more areas of Christian philosophy than has Nick Wolterstorff. He is a sort of Thomas Jefferson in the range of his interests and mastery. In his memoir he puts his thinking and activities in personal contexts. The story of the modest circumstances of his early years is particularly fascinating, especially in light of the richness of the experiences that follow.”
Kevin J. Vanhoozer
— Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“Nick Wolterstorff’s memoir demolishes common stereotypes of academics. The role of the ivory tower pales in significance in comparison to his Dutch immigrant community in Minnesota. This would be a compelling story even if it were not a first-person eyewitness account of the extraordinary twentieth-century renaissance of Christian philosophy. Beyond that, it is a moving reflection on a life marked by grace, grief, and gratitude.”
Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
— Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
“Always poignant, evocative, and honest, Wolterstorff leads us through one remarkable vignette after another with the deftness of a master. When you have finished reading, you will feel pain that it’s time to leave his world of wonders.”
Christian Scholar’s Review
“Wolterstorff acknowledges that some people contend that the fascination with justice issues is a fad among young people today, but states that he personally knows many young people for whom justice is not a fad but a reason for deep commitment and action. And perhaps at this time in educational history, the prospect of Christian philosophy addressing questions of justice may be an excellent way of making clear not only its relevance to the world our students are living in, but also, by extension, to all disciplines in the academy.”