In The New Flatlanders, teacher, scientist, and chaplain Eric Middleton challenges traditional ways of looking at reality by engaging readers in a "voyage of discovery starting with questions." The book engagingly begins with a discussion group embarking on an exploratory conversation about the nature of the universe and the place of human beings in it. Daunting questions emerge, such as "How can there possibly be a tear or hole in three-dimensional space? And if there is a hole, can something fall through it? Where would it fall to?" In short order, students and teacher are on a quest to develop a "working theory of everything" that takes them from stone circles to quarks, superstrings, quantum theory, the anthropic principle, evolution, consciousness, miracles, chaos, and the spiritual universe.
The key to exploring these questions is finding a language with which to talk about the awe and wonder of today's science alongside the joy of experiencing the spiritual. This is done by interweaving into the discussions the philosophy of "Flatland," a nonreligious entry point to Jesus posited by nineteenth-century clergyman and educator Edwin A. Abbott in his classic parable Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions.