I cannot muster up even a tiny bit of interest in birds. A few minutes ago, Atticus asked me to come to the sunroom because a bird was tweeting. What I wanted to tell him–but didn’t–is that birds are boring. Sometimes people talk about bird watching and birdsong and I cannot even imagine why they think those would be fun activities. Why would I want to put up a bird feeder or a birdhouse and attract more birds?
And what could be even more boring than birds? A book about birds! So at first I was not even going to consider Consider the Birds, which is an exploration of different birds in the Bible. However, I could not pass up a book that Lauren Winner said was the best she read all year. Even if the book is about birds.
In the introduction, Lauren Winner (who is not really interested in birds either, for the record) says that one of the beauties of Consider the Birds is that it gives us a new way to look at familiar scriptures. That is putting it mildly, because this book is a revelation. Debbie Blue talks about birds and scripture and birds in scripture in ways that amazed me, not just once but over and over and over. There was something I wanted to quote on almost every single page. I was blown away from the very first chapter, where she talks about purity in the context of doves and how doves are actually the same thing as pigeons. This is a hard book to describe, so I will just quote from that section on doves and pigeons:
Maybe the spirit of God is so common–wherever life is, that we don’t recognize it or necessarily respect it. And so we snuff it out sometimes. This does not seem entirely unlikely to me. Maybe this is the explanation–the explanation for why we are unkind, ungenerous, why we ever hate and kill one another. Why we are ungrateful and destructive. The spirit of God is among us, the Holy Spirit, and we often don’t even notice it.
Maybe we don’t notice because we are looking for something pure and white, but the spirit of God is more complicated than that–fuller and richer and everywhere. Perhaps we’ve read the dove wrong–it is not pure as the driven snow. Maybe we get a little hung up on purity. God, after all, created LIFE (everything swarming and creeping, fruitful and multiplying). Maybe the Holy Spirit of God is more creative than puritan. Maybe we are mistaken about what holy means.
The whole book challenged my ideas of power and sacrifice and beauty while talking about eagles and vultures and pelicans and ravens. (Did you know that when the Bible talks about eagles it could actually be talking about vultures? Is your mind blown?) I can’t say that I have started looking at birds more or listening to them, and I will not be putting up a bird feeder. But I have started noticing when people refer to birds in our society, and thinking about what those references mean. I treasure the insight that I gained from Consider the Birds and I will definitely be reading it again.
Recommended for: I liked this book so much that it is hard for me to say. I want to recommend it for everybody! Even if you don’t like birds! But especially if you do!
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley but my opinions are my own. In fact, I liked it so much I ordered myself a physical copy, if that tells you anything.