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Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Myth of Happiness


Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness comes and goes, joy lasts. What Christians in the West tend to think of as joy is in fact probably happiness.

I think that about summarises 'The Myth of Happiness', and it's ok. Not great, not awful, OK. It's aimed squarely at Average Joe and his wife and is an easy but not very gripping read. It's well written but it didn't capture my imagination, it didn't really deal with all that is wrong with our vision of the world and it didn't really grab me with an exciting vision of a new reality, one lit up by joy.

One substantial quibble I have is that he picks out Hebrews 1:9 which talks of the Son being anointed by joy and uses that as an overarching definition therefore of the entirety of Christ's ministry. On the next page he tries to debunk the 'Hollywood Jesus' image by quoting Isaiah 53 stopping short of the 'man of sorrows' bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm convinced that Jesus knew joy and 'for the joy set before him endured the cross' but I wasn't convinced by the presentation of the Biblical evidence. It's kind of like in Maths when your answer is right but your workings out are all over the place.

On the plus side Rich Wagner is a definite Anglophile though and I did appreciate that, listing three Brits (Oswald Chambers, CH Spurgeon and CS Lewis) as his heroes and quoting often from all things Britannic. It's just nice to see that it's not cultural one way traffic.

So this book is ok and I'm sure people will appreciate it but I just have the feeling that it's a book that will get lost on the shelves and not really hit it's mark.

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