Years ago, while living in South Dakota, I was pleased to build a friendship with a pastor in Rapid City. Greg and I have enjoyed our connection over the years. His journey has taken him through a PhD program (in Rhetoric), to London, and now to Hong Kong.
Greg loves to read, but doesn't often recommend books on his Facebook page. So recently, when he posted a picture of David Brooks' new book, The Road to Character, I took notice. His exhortation, "Read this book- it is life changing!" was all the further motivation I needed. Amazon delivered, and I started reading last night.
Right from the beginning, I'm drawn into this reflection on the journey of life. Brooks speaks of the need to develop two kinds of virtues: resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Our culture seems to focus on the first: What have you done? What are your skills? The eulogy virtues take longer: Who did you influence? How did you love? What impact did you leave?
This is a familiar topic, and yet one increasingly diminished in our culture. Our obsession is with the immediate, the superficial, and the impressive. We don't want to spend time or effort on our identity question (Who am I?) or our mission question (Why do I exist?). We want, mostly, to be comfortable, to consume, to be noticed, and to be like others.
I don't believe that Jesus rejects our culture, or any culture. The very nature of incarnation is that of coming among us, and coming among us means an entry into culture as well as an entry into individual story. At the same time, Jesus transcends our culture, and invites us to see more of what life can be. And, to the extent that a culture limits our vision, Jesus calls us to look beyond and live differently.
The role of each follower of Jesus, and certainly the role of the Church, is to model these deeper values and aspirations. Of course, values and aspirations must be considered before they are modeled. The Road to Character is an invitation to thoughtfulness.
I think I'm going to enjoy this book. If you enjoy reading, perhaps you'll want to pick up a copy. I'd love to hear your thoughts. But with or without a reading of The Road to Character, I'm reminded that the road and the journey are before us. I hope your journey of faith finds you ready to take the next steps.