The Great Wall of China and the Salton Sea: Monuments, Missteps, and the Audacity of Ambition

Russell Rathbun. Eerdmans, $21.99 (198p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7365-1
Rathbun, a founding pastor at House of Mercy in Saint Paul, Minn., breaks through genre lines with this lyrical musing on life, grand achievements, and unexpected failures. Starting with the canard that the only man-made objects visible from space are the Great Wall of China and California’s Salton Sea, Rathbun spends time with both, exploring Chinese history and recounting his time living in China for a few months, and detailing his family connections to the Salton Sea, which drove him to research the genesis and fall of the associated failed resort towns. Throughout, he reflects on the nature of God and humanity, riffing on Biblical stories such as the Tower of Babel as symbols of the long-existing human ambition to build monuments that last. Rathbun knows and relies on the Bible, but the book is no religious tract; instead, it’s an explication of the mundane inside notions of the colossal or the grand, and a model of how to truly live and appreciate the world. Rathbun’s eclectic book will be enjoyed by a wide readership of seekers. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2016
Release date: 01/01/2017
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