Book Review: Death by Living

Death By Living_Book Cover_High ResolutionIn the opening pages of Death by Living, N.D. Wilson warns us that “for me, meditation is a noisy, noisy business. There’s a chance of hard cider, and a likelihood of shouting.”

Yeah. I knew I liked this guy.

Pass the cider, my brothers, and listen up. Life is a story, but between the knowing and the living lies a chasm that has swallowed many a man whole. “My life is a story,” says the latte-swigging hipster, and he doesn’t understand how right he really is. Do you? Do I? Or do we merely pass this idea around “like a cigarette between furtive fourteen-year-olds, the smoke puffing in and out like empty speech”?

Somewhere there is a disconnect – God help us, such a disconnect – and Wilson is ready with the much-needed rebuke: “If you think it, live it. If you don’t live it, you don’t really think it. You are not what you think (or what you think you think). You are not what you say you are. You are what you do.”

So we say it again: Life is a story. Yes. We know this. Now let us live like we know it.

The story spins on – every day, every hour, every minute. We can clutch, we can grab, we can try to horde the moments that slip through our fingers like water; or we can open our hands and give, give till there is nothing left, let ourselves be poured out by others and for others. Our days on this mortal coil are numbered. The only question is: will we live fully and deeply, the way God intended us to live, or will we not?

Drink your wine. Laugh from your gut. Burden your moments with thankfulness. Be as empty as you can be when that clock winds down. Spend your life. And if time is a river, may you leave a wake.

In trying to review a book as beautiful and as brilliant as this, I have a deathly fear of saying the wrong thing; of failing to get even a smidgen of the book’s wonder across to you fairly; of sounding like a nut who can’t be taken too bloody seriously. Therefore: if what I’ve written moves you in any way to go out and buy this book, I will feel that I’ve succeeded.

If not, forget this review completely.

And buy the book anyway.

Oh, one more thing. Eric Metaxes has said that N.D. Wilson reminds him of a young Chesterton. Higher or more accurate praise could hardly be given, I think. And that brings me to what I love best in Wilson’s writing: the joy. His prose is saturated with it, just like Chesterton’s. This joy isn’t the naive optimism of a happiness guru, but the deep, glorious, soul-bursting exultation that finds its roots in the cry of Job: I know that my Redeemer liveth. This is the joy that comes from knowing the Storyteller. This is the joy that comes from knowing how the Story ends.

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Death by Living”

  1. Awesome review! This is so beautiful: “This joy isn’t the naive optimism of a happiness guru, but the deep, glorious, soul-bursting exultation that finds its roots in the cry of Job: I know that my Redeemer liveth. This is the joy that comes from knowing the Storyteller. This is the joy that comes from knowing how the Story ends.”

  2. Why must you taunt me with all these glorious books, like visions from Paradise, when all I can do is add them to my to do list and then go back to doing college homework. *tear*

    It’s very cruel of you. :p

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