So for book club this month we read 'The call of the wild' which was a hit mainly because it was short and therefore for the first time in the history of my time at the group everyone present had actually read the book (a pre-requisite you would have thought for most book clubs).
The call of the wild follows the story of a dog (Buck) from civilised domesticated pet to wild wolf through a journey of savagery, abuse and pretty extreme difficulty. You might be tempted to think of the incredible journey (remade into the greatly inferior Homeward Bound) but don't. This book is a story of the nature of things. It asks the question what are we at our most base level? What are we when you strip away social conditioning and controlling influences? It is a story of what it would look like to follow our hearts.
This study of nature highlights the following things
1 - Pride is a powerful driving force which lies at the heart of all things. Pride drives is Buck's greatest driver it is the thing which drives him to great acts.
2 - The great acts caused by pride are not always good. Pride creates a desire for mastery and control. An abusive and bullying side to his personality.
3 - There is an irrational destructiveness in all being human and animal. Both kill, hurt and abuse at times merely because they can rather than because they have to.
4 - Behaviour can be controlled. Buck can control the behaviour of those around him through force and manipulation and the humans can control his behaviour through the same.
5 - But only the power which comes through really loving something can transform the heart. Only that can change the attitudes, the outlook and make you want to act a different way.
There is a lot more to be said about this book. But whenever I come back to any study of nature I see the gospel story told again and again. A story of a deep routed destructiveness which we can try to fight against but never quite win. The story of how only an equally deep routed love can actually transform the way we view the world.
The gospel is not a story which says you're bad so be better.
It's a story which says you are both truly wonderful (made in God's image) but broken (prideful and destructive). It's a story which says behaviour modification (being better) can't solve the problem and so instead presents you with a God who loves you. A God who loves you enough to die for you and it as you respond to this love with love of your own you find your heart won and a new and stronger passion, even than the call of your nature, starts to drive not just your behaviour but your entire attitude.
No matter where you look God's creation can't help but tell his story.
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