In the prelude of The Blossoming of the World: Essays and Images (Tell Me Press, July 2011), Brian H. Peterson describes himself as someone who loves to wrestle with images and words. This physical and mental combat results in a collection of essays and photographs that I found impossible to put down.
The description on the back of the book summarizes the work as confronting painful contradictions and reconciling his Christian faith. He accomplishes this by interspersing formal essays, images and journal entries that depict the connection between life, nature and body in ways that may go unnoticed in a culture so consumed by updating its Facebook status. Peterson broaches complex subjects of self-actualization and identity, but also offers the emotional story of helping his aged parents move out of his childhood home. Some of the photographs depict nature scenes while in others he has merged images of the human body and nature. His journal entries, which read like less refined snippets of his essays, present his thoughts on a subject over the decades of his life.
While I would disagree that his essays deal with contradictions, I will concede that they sometimes touch on painful experiences of life and the subsequent recovery. He shares some of his thoughts and feelings on receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Peterson does explore his faith but in a way that sometimes hijacks the essay. Other times, it’s not mentioned at all. He introduces the reader to his Christianity in a way that may be alienating to fundamentalists, or perhaps even those who are not familiar with Judeo-Christian principles.
While some of the essays get a bit philosophical, Peterson’s honesty about common human experiences will allow most readers to connect with the author.
Who should read it: those who have ever been accused of “thinking too deeply”, anyone who has struggled with Christianity, those who appreciate the design of nature and the body.
–Audrey Maddox is a guest reviewer this month.