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Posted July 27, 2006
HAPPINESS: The Way it Was Meant to Be
JP Moreland and Klaus Issler ransom the contemporary idea of ¿happiness¿ from the obsessive, authoritarian grips of pleasure-seeking narcissism, and cleanse it with biblical counsel, Spirit-led wisdom, pastoral insight, and the demonstrable lessons of their own life lived in the fellowship of others. Their thesis is articulated in eight life-empowering chapters, which claims that happiness is best understood and obtained if it means living our life as it is meant to flourish. We are meant to flourish in a life of character and virtue formation that manifests itself in wisdom, kindness and goodness (25). The life of Jesus Christ and the gospel of the kingdom of God are both the indispensable model and means for obtaining this kind of abundant life. Chapter One and Two both (authored by Moreland) establish this foundational claim. Chapter Three (Issler), Four (Moreland) and Five (Issler) form a unit to give clear instruction and pastoral insight about how to get good at living this kind of life: Namely, form a tender, receptive heart (ch. 3) form a thoughtful mind stayed on God (ch. 4) form a trustful will that risks with God (ch. 5). With the foundation laid in chapters one and two, and the edifice formed in chapters three, four and five, this house of edification is nearly complete. But first, Chapter Six (Issler) and Seven (Moreland) tests a biblical conception of human flourishing in light of the so-called ¿hiddennes of God¿ (ch. 6) and in view of experiencing anxiety and depression (ch. 7). These two chapters form a potent unit of instruction and insight, encouraging the reader to embrace the reality of God¿s hiddenness and to learn not to just ¿cope¿ with anxiety and depression but to actually defeat its control over one¿s ability to flourish. I found these chapters to be liberating, helpful, and truthfully conveyed. Moreland openly shares his experience and defeat of anxiety and depression. This testimony should encourage anyone who is afflicted with such struggle. Lastly, Chapter Eight (Issler) caps the entire discussion of the book with a focus on ¿cultivating spiritual friendships.¿ Topically, I would expect Chapters Three, Four and Five to be part of a book on spiritual formation, even though the authors offer a decisively unique perspective on these topics. However, it is Chapters Six and Seven that make the book all the more accessible and authoritative. For these chapters demonstrate that the ideas conveyed in the previous chapters are not only true, but because they are true, they actually work and are livable even in the crucible of life¿s most desperate circumstances. Structurally, each chapter faithfully maintains a length of 24 pages. This consistency appropriately informs the reader¿s attention and forms the reader¿s expectation. This prudential proportionality of space demonstrates that the authors do not overstate or understate one topic over another. Visually, the text actually appeals to the eyes. The lines have generous spacing and the fonts are crisp. Each page does not feel like it is informationally overloaded. The ideas expressed and the space and words that are used to fulfill that expression are prudentially balanced. Moreover, instructional helps and end-of-chapter exercises are found throughout the book. These are not superficial or ineffectual, but encourage the reader to give careful attention to what they are reading and to do so while attending to their own life. For example, there is an informative chart on page 26 that offers a succinct contrast between ¿Contemporary Happiness¿ (pleasurable satisfaction) and ¿Classical Happiness¿ (virtue and well-being). On page 117, Issler captures ¿Five Enduring Kingdom Themes¿ (Loving God, Relating, Reigning, Renewing and Resisting) in the form of a circular diagram. And in this same chapter about learning to form a trusting will, Issler provides (p. 125-26) an ¿Eternal Investment Portfolio¿ (EIP) to gauge how we are investing our livesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 19, 2010
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