Book Review: Lent Is Not Rocket Science

Author: W. Nicholas Knisely
Publisher: Forward Movement, Cincinnati, OH
Date of Publication: 2015
Title: Lent Is Not Rocket Science: An Exploration of God, Creation, and the Cosmos.

This is the first year that I’ve done something pretty regularly for lent and it’s been a nice addition to life. I picked up Lent Is Not Rocket Science from a church I was attending an Ash Wednesday service at. On the way out the pastor asked if I’d like a lent devotional, or, a science lent devotional. The choice was obvious.

The devotional’s format is simple and easy to read. A focus Bible verse or other quote, 2-4 short pages of meditation related to science and tradition, and leaving off with a few thoughtful questions. The way science is used doesn’t feel corny or forced, but instead seems genuinely insightful. Concepts like chemical equilibrium have clear comparison so how we can live balanced lives. Cosmic mysteries like dark matter give insight into how we can learn to comfortably deal with spiritual mysteries as well. The comparison with scientific concepts gives a concrete and relatable quality to the spiritual meditation rather than feeling like a corny token science fact.

The questions at the end of each day strike a balance between being easily applicable to daily life and the more abstract. Some of these are easy to answer: “What are the forces in your life that balance you and allow you to find stability?. . . Where is God in this balance?”(51). Other questions are important, but more difficult and abstract: “Is it possible for you to see God’s constant action in history?” (48). Yes, I guess, but I’m honestly not sure to what extent. It’s worth thinking about.

The author, W. Nicholas Knisely, is the current Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island and has done graduate studies in Physics and Astronomy. Knisely’s scientific and theological training lets him write about both subjects competently and share useful insight. I’ve seen one too many pastors with no real science training try to talk about science and completely mess it up. Or, it often comes across as a corny overly-sentimental and unnecessary addition to a sermon. Two weeks in, I haven’t found examples of either mistake in this devotional.

I wasn’t sure what to think before I started, but I’ve really enjoyed the time spent every day with Lent Is Not Rocket Science. It’s both intellectually and spiritually engaging. If you’re looking for a lent devotional that can engage with science, scripture, and tradition in positive ways, this devotional could be for you.



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