Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness
by David Naugle
Oh my! What a book!
I am almost afraid to speak of it. For I cannot do it justice. It is beyond my ability to describe it to you in brief words. And because I want you to read this book, relish it, and through it connect with the deepest longings of your heart . . . I am afraid. For it will require thought and work on your part.
We prefer to have our truth presented to us in sound bytes and pithy slogans. Short, to the point, practical, enjoyable, quickly attained. David Naugle's offering in this book is none of that (except enjoyable).
It has been said that every author has ONE BOOK in them which they are born to write. Several years ago, David Naugle wrote a book (Worldview: The History of a Concept) that seemed the obvious canidate for him. It was so good that it won the Christianity Today 2003 Book of the Year Award (quite the accomplishment). And if you assumed that was the book David Naugle was born to write, then it is easy to forgive you for your error. For I thought the same things as well.
Reordered Love, Reordered Lives is the book David Naugle was born to write.
I (almost) do not know how to describe it to you since it is so sweeping and magisterial in its theme and scope and depth. How does one describe wisdom... describe what is profound... describe what is wonderful and beautiful? For that is what this book is.
It is wisdom, prose, poetry and story... It is philosophy and theology... It is spirituality and psychology. It is sociology and cultural anthropology... It is all this seamlessly merging together. Naugle is able to pick up the many diverse fields of fabric and threads and weave them together into a tapestry masterpiece that is far greater then the individual pieces. It is all these things in an intelligent way without being academic. Keep that in mind. It is intelligent but not academic. I know intelligence is a quality associated with living beings, but it is the best word I can come up with at the moment.
He carefully, yet boldly, names our deepest longing and its distortion, its corruption, and its loss. He describes our "now" condition of disordered loves and disordered lives built around those confused loves, and how unhappiness grows ever deeper. He diagnoses our condition like a spiritual doctor of the soul and then he guides our way forward as a spiritual director.
He uses (almost) all of my favorite authors who have wondered about and written on this theme of original happiness, now lost. Augustine, Lewis, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Donne, Bonhoeffer, Calvin, Chesterton, Edwards, Piper, Kreeft, Sayers, Plantinga, Rolheiser, Tolkien... and so many more. I have loved these authors because they have written of the great things that matter most. As I read Reordered Love, Reordered Lives, David Naugle seems to be as a conductor who gathers these magnificent instruments and voices together into a delightful symphonic orchestra. If the individual solist was good, when joined with her/his peers, together they are transcendent.
But then . . . like a spiritual Gandalf he leads me through the Middle Earth of my life, with an eye to the evil of Mordor which corrupts all good things. He leads me into the fray against what is wrong with the world, what is wrong with me, and helps me make my way back home to the Shire/Eden and a reordered love and life. I feel like I can say with Sam, "Well, I'm back." He has come home and so will all who read this book.
I recently re-watched Shawshank Redemption and here is the image of Joy regained. David Naugle wants to you to find this place once again.