Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mini-Review: “The Good Life” by Charles Colson with Harold Fickett

I had an interesting interchange of e-mails this past week with a first-time reader of The White Rhino Report. He was put off by some of the spiritual content of the Blog, and he made the following statement: “I suppose I am a bit uncomfortable with executives leading with their spirituality as a business differentiator. It is not that I have a problem with spirituality. It is just presenting it as a distinction.”

I respect the opinion of this reader, but would like to respond briefly. I have made a choice to offer in The White Rhino Report my thoughts on a wide variety of topics – leadership, sports, books, movies, theater, faith, world travel, etc. In this Blog, there is no hermetically sealed boundary between personal and professional, because in my life there is no such barrier. Professional colleagues are often friends, and friends are often colleagues. The readership of this Blog is diverse, and I assume that regular readers scan the title of a posting or read the first paragraph or two and then decide if they wish to invest more time in reading the entire posting. I also assume that when I write about spiritual maters that are personal to me, some of my readers, whose perspective on faith is different from my own, may choose to ignore what I have written, privately disagree or choose to share their disagreement in the former of a comment or e-mail to me.

I think it is a fair statement that anyone who knows me well, knows that faith is integral to my life, but that I do not beat people over the head with Bible verses nor do I use my faith in an exclusionary way. Having laid on the table this issue, let me offer some brief thoughts on a book I have just finished reading, and found to be valuable and thought-provoking.

Chuck Colson has written over twenty books since his surprising bestseller, “Born Again,” written in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Following his release from prison, he founded and has run for over thirty years a successful ministry called Prison Fellowship. For almost ten years, I was a member of the staff of Prison Fellowship and came to know and respect Chuck Colson’s commitment to justice, informed by his Christian faith. Colson has one of the keenest minds I have ever encountered, and his faithful service for over three decades to prisoners and their families around the globe has silenced most of his early critics who were convinced that his talk of religious conversion on the heels of his Watergate conviction was a cynical attempt to garner sympathy. On the contrary, Nixon’s notorious “hatchet man” has hewn an impressive path through the forest of prison injustice and has emerged as a thought leader within the Christian community on issues of applying faith to social problems.

“The Good Life,” written in collaboration with Harold Fickett, represents Colson’s reflections based on thirty years of wrestling with how to apply his faith to his own personal struggles and those of society. In Colson’s own words, here is the theme of this book:

“In one sense, this is a thematic memoir – the rest of the story after “Born Again.” It includes reflections on my own life, some joyful, some painful. It recounts some of the crucial moments in my life and the lessons I’ve learned from them. I hope it also reflects my personal pursuit of what we all want – to live a life that matters, a life of significance.

Please don’t think that this book is a grand summing up by a senior statesman who means to impress you with his accumulated wisdom. No. This book is for seekers – seekers of any kind, of any or no religious faith. That may surprise you. Anyone who knows about me knows that I’m a Christian. I have deep and abiding convictions, and I can hardly claim to be a neutral observer. But I am a seeker too. My search led me into Christianity, and since ten it has driven me to uncover more fully the truth that we are meant to know and live.” (Page xv)

Colson weaves together in a very compelling way stories of men and women who have come to his attention – some personally and some indirectly – who have struggled mightily with question of meaning and purpose in life. “The lack of peace within our hearts spurs us on a quest for the meaning of life – a command imprinted on ‘unextinguished souls.’ Pope John Paul II sums up the matter elegantly: ‘One may define the human being, therefore, as the one who seeks the truth.’” (Page 10)

Despite the fact the Colson writes from an unabashedly Christian perspective, I feel confident in recommending this book to thoughtful persons of all religious persuasions – or lack thereof. The author’s look through the lens of thirty years of searching for ever deepening understanding of truth is helpful to anyone who sees herself or himself on a similar quest.



1 comment:

Anthony Lorizio said...

While there is much this Al Chase fan could write about the codified, put it in a box, I know everything culture that embraces logical fallacies because they are often easier than applying critical thinking, this fan will not.
Instead, count this as a BIG vote of encouragement to keep being the intelligent, wide awake, insightful, generous, kind, and effective human being and business person that you are. Whatever it is you "lead with," keep it up!

Tony Lorizio