Tim Casteel's Reviews > The Second Mountain

The Second Mountain by David  Brooks
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it was amazing

Full of wisdom. Brooks writes "We all get a little thrill when we come across a passage in a book that puts into words something we had vaguely intuited." This book is full of such thrills.

I read two incredible books in 2019 that portrayed the emptiness of the two ways to pursue life apart from God:
- Russell Brand pursued pleasure to the nth degree and found it lacking
- David Brooks pursued achievement in work, succeeded, and found it lacking

I think the gospel preached to this generation: Work/Achievement Is the New God.
A great antidote is reading Brooks' The Second Mountain.

The Second Mountain is worth reading if only for his chapter on his Christian conversion (from secular Judaism). It's beautiful & profound:
"In college & early adulthood, I [used the Bible] as wisdom literature…for understanding and solving the problems of life. I was big & the stories were small, just an old book in my hands to be used by me in leading my life. Over decades things began to change imperceptibly.
My old ideas were not adequate for the extremes of joy & grief I experienced.
I think what changed, in the most incremental, boring way possible, is the sensation that these stories are not fabricated tales happening to fictional people: They are the underlying shape of reality.
To anybody who lives in the secular culture, one’s first encounter with a joyful intelligent Christian comes as something of a shock. We’re used to looking down on the Pat Robertson types, but it’s unnerving to encounter a Christian you would, on balance, very much like to be.
At lunch [w John Stott] we chatted a bit, and then he questioned me directly & hard: What did I believe? Where was I on my faith journey? What did I think of the Gospel? What did I think of Judaism? I thought we were there to talk about him, but he was interested only in me.
Even if you have no faith at all, there's something moving about seeing a person who acts like Jesus
I was [someone] who endorsed religion in theory…thought it a good influence on other people but didn’t believe in it myself. I [saw it as] a useful collection of self-help hacks.
At some instinctive level I treated my journey to faith as a homework assignment: If I did all the reading certainty would come.
I was struggling with the concept of surrender and grace. I didn’t like Martin Luther’s idea that you can’t be saved by works, but only by faith…"

[side note - it's interesting that for both Rod Dreher and David Brooks "The first glimmerings of faith came to me architecturally…at Chartres." Fascinating. I think we underestimate awe.]

"A thick life is defined by commitments and obligations. The life well lived is a journey from open options to sweet compulsions.

On the first mountain, a person makes individual choices and keeps their options open.
The second mountain is a vale of promise making. It is about making commitments, tying oneself down, and giving oneself away."

"Have you noticed how many people are more boring and half-hearted at age thirty-five than they were at twenty?
Workaholism is a surprisingly effective distraction from emotional and spiritual problems.
In short, the meritocracy encourages you to drift into a life that society loves but which you don’t."
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Reading Progress

September 23, 2019 – Started Reading
September 23, 2019 – Shelved
October 7, 2019 – Finished Reading

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