What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happiness with a "Y"

I've done no blogging for a while. Too many excuses to list.

But I just finished a book I have to talk about, "The Pursuit of HappYness," by Chris Gardner. The movie came out a while back, starring Will Smith, and Deb and I liked it so much I read the book.

WARNING: Not good reading for Pharisees or other legalists since it is peppered with profanity, several adult situations, some unfinished and unbiblical conclusions about spirituality, etc., but several threads of the most heart-rending and soul-searching truth race like a torrent through this volume. I caught myself with my face in my hands several times tearfully calling out to Jesus to help me care more for the hurting and the homeless.

Gardner spent most of his life without knowing his father and living under the abuse and tyranny of an illiterate step-father. Consequently he promised himself he would never be an absentee in the life of his son. His tenacity to his commitment to fatherhood and his resourcefulness in the face of circumstances beyond his control (as well as some self-inflicted wounds) resonate waves of respect for men like him who don't abandon their children for childish and selfish reasons. Never mind he's now rich and influential. The success I admire is his fortitude to be a good father even if it meant swallowing his pride or juggling his schedule. Millions of men need to get a grip on this ideal.

I like for my reading to include elements outside the boundaries of often-tread Christian works. As a pastor I'm constantly trying to understand what makes people tick. I want to walk in their shoes, know what they're thinking, and identify with their loneliness and suffering because I think Jesus did that. Books like this help keep my heart tender.

I could be blogging about the 944-page work on Abraham Lincoln I read over the holidays entitled, "Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin, that deals with the political genius of our 16th president. That was an enjoyable read and very well-written. But this 302-page autobiographical work by Gardner was one of those books that spoke to my soul. (Not that history doesn't speak to my soul - but in a different way.)

There have been plenty of times the Holy Spirit has imparted the lessons of empathy and impartiality to my heart and mind, including those times when I have been the recipient of judgmentalism because others did not know and understand my personal history. These experiences have moved me to work harder at trying to understand others. But this book was a repeat and reemphasis of God's instruction to me. It was a fresh "wake up call" to compassion.

I ask myself, "Do I know and care about the sad plight of some of the children and men and women of my own city? Do I understand their sense of hopelessness and why they behave in anti-social ways?"

I want to know. I want to care. I want to do something about it.


  • At Saturday, January 12, 2008 9:56:00 AM , Blogger Pastor Jeff Lawson said...

    I admire your willingness to read secular material along with your church materials. So often we get caught up in the "church" world and forget that the world keeps moving along. I also enjoyed the movie, and may "when I get finished with my graduate work" take time to read it.


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