Teilhard de Chardin said many odd things, but when he said “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God” he had certainly hit on a profound truth. A joy that is not just a reflection of momentary emotional happiness, but a joy of reflective of living the Gospel despite what you currently feel. A new book that reflects that is Choosing Joy: The Secret of Living a Fully Christian Life by Dan Lord.
This book makes for absorbing spiritual reading. Dan Lord does not set out to give pat answers to the difficult and painful questions of life, but to write on the joy of the Christian life that takes in the reality of life. While this book has some conversion story aspects to it, it is much more than that and the author uses his own conversion as a framework to write about joy. The book starts on the story of his father’s difficult life of a child in the slums of Atlanta and his conversion to the Catholic faith and an experience of joy that stayed with hims throughout his life. Dan Lord’s own reversion to the faith took a detour through years as a frontmen for a touring rock group.
What I most liked about this book was both the presentation and the solid advice given. The writing is engaging and references the great Catholic spiritual writers from the past to the modern day. Part of the format of this book is looking at specific use cases such as dealing with some general obstacles to growing in the spiritual life. Specific examples and common objections are given in regard to this. These examples and advice lead up to how you can abandon yourself to God’s will and how the sacramental life of the Church, especially the Eucharist, is necessary in this regard.
Being able to write in a popular style on the faith without making the advice rather shallow can be rather difficult. Platitudes are common in that style of writing, but this book shows the depth of the faith and does not draw back from hard truths. At 144 pages this is a short read, but the impact this book can make is not short.