A PRETTY GOOD PERSON by Lewis B. Smedes

A PRETTY GOOD PERSON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dewy-eyed look at what it takes to be a good human being, by Smedes (Theology & Ethics/Fuller Theological Seminary; Choices, 1986; Forgive and Forget, 1984). In spite of our selfish impulses, Smedes says, deep down we all want to be good. Here, he tackles what it means to be good or, more possible, ""pretty good,"" since saint. hood is beyond reach of most of us. The ingredients in his recipe are gratitude, courage, integrity, self-control, discernment, and love. He explains each with down-home meditation (""We all write our stories out of the material somebody else has given us""), and loads of anecdotal and literary references--for instance, as an example of courage, Ruby Bridges, the black six-year-old who broke the color barrier in the New Orleans school system; as an example of discernment, his own experiences in observing drivers involved in near-fatal traffic accidents; references to Mark Twain, Erich Fromm, etc. Smedes' conclusions are common-sensical, but worth pondering all the same: courage is not the absence of fear but the will to do what's needed when fear reigns; gratitude requires a tolerance for imperfection. Integrity is not truth told for its own sake, but a compassionate honesty; discernment is the sensitivity of awareness that knows the difference between the two. Self-control is not the vanquishing of desire or anger but the triumph of intention over temptation; and true love is a fair love, open-eyed and forgiving. Laid-back and effectively inspirational in the Fulghum manner, albeit a bit precious (""Gratitude dances through the open windows of our hearts. . ."").

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Harper San Francisco