Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Leading Lives that Matter

Leading Lives that Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be edited by Mark R. Schwehn and Dorothy C. Bass. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006. ISBN: 9780802829313.

Leading Lives that Matter is an excellent anthology of readings on living lives of significance. It is a companion piece to William Placher's Callings: Twenty centuries of Christian Wisdom. Placher's book discusses vocation from a theological point of view. Leading Lives that Matter discusses the topic of vocation from a more popular, secular point of view. What the authors mean by secular view is that the readings are drawn more widely than just theological perspectives. The editors draw from a wide selection of authors and professions. Some of these authors are William James, Charles Taylor, Aristotle, Lee Hardy, Homer, Dorothy L. Sayers, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, John Milton, Amy Tan, Willa Cather, John Steinbeck and others. The authors state, "This anthology is designed for people . . . who want to live lives that matter" (1).

In addition, the authors note, "This anthology seeks to make easily available to readers of all kinds some of the best thinking and writing that human beings have done over the centuries about the very questions that most trouble human beings when they wonder about how to live lives of substance and significance" (7). The authors believe that the reading of this book is like joining the great conversation that reaches back to the Bible and ancient times. It is to enter a conversation about the most important things of life. For example, how can one live a good life, a life full of meaning and purpose.

Leading Lives that Matter are organized around seven key questions:

1. "Are some lives more significant than others?"
2. "Must my job be the primary source of my identity?"
3. Is a balanced life possible and preferable to a life focused primarily on work?"
4. "Should I follow my talents as I decide what to do to earn a living?"
5. "To whom should I listen?"
6. "Can I control what I shall do and become?'
7. "How shall I tell the story of my life?"

Leading Lives that Matter asks important questions. For example, "Should I follow my talents as I decide what to do to earn a living?" It includes some of the greatest thinkers reflecting on that most important topic of how to live our life. The topics addressed in this anthology are topics that should occupy the thoughts of everyone. The reader will be richly rewarded in taking the time to read this book. It includes not only important topics but excellent writings from some of the greatest writers of Western Civilization.

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