Learning the Good Life

Wisdom from the Great Hearts and Minds That Came Before

by Jessica Hooten Wilson, Jacob Stratman, David I. Smith

On Sale: 2022-05-03

Book Summary

What is 'the Good Life'? How can we live well and fully in the world? Learning the Good Life seeks to help readers answer these age-old questions through introducing them to timeless texts from some of history’s wisest hearts and minds. In doing so it offers a broader, richer, and more cohesive narrative in which Christians may participate.

About the Book

Discover the Good Life as you learn from the wise voices of the past.

We've lost ourselves. Disconnected from the past and uncertain about the future, we are anxious about what our lives will be and troubled by a nagging sense of meaninglessness. Adrift in the world, many Christians have their identity completely wrapped up in work, and their definition of the "good life" is financial success. Fewer of are staying committed to the Christian faith, finding it difficult to reconcile their experience with their longings and desires. With so much uncertainty, where can we find a true vision of "the Good Life"?

Learning the Good Life speaks to this malaise with a curated collection of voices from the past, inviting Christians into an ages-old dialogue with some of history's wisest and most reflective minds. Featuring thought-provoking writings from a diverse lineup of over 35 writers and thinkers:

  • From the classic—including Confucius, Augustine, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Henry David Thoreau, and Frederick Douglass;
  • To the modern—including W.E.B. DuBois, Flannery O'Connor, T.S. Eliot, and Simone Weil;
  • To the contemporary—including Wendell Berry, David Foster Wallace, and Marilynne Robinson.

Together these sages, writers, philosophers, and poets address important issues such as virtue, beauty, community, wonder, suffering, and meaning.

Each of these texts are introduced by experts from a variety of Christian colleges and universities to help provide a richer narrative in which Christians can participate. Each text is also accompanied by discussion questions to provoke further thought and contemplation and to facilitate discussion when used in groups.

Learning the Good Life is ideal for any Christian seeking a deeper connection to the wisdom of the past and wanting a more cohesive vision of the good life. Though not all these writers were themselves Christians, they all have a message for you. All of them are calling you to die to yourself, to your habits of indulgence, to your pride and ambition—and to dedicate your time to learning, thinking, and loving.


'Anyone who fails to recognize that he or she has much to learn from the great thinkers of the past--including the distant past--is a fool. But it's not enough merely to acknowledge that we can learn from these thinkers. We have to actually read their writings. That's why I warmly welcome--and commend--this new collection of 'great books' published by Zondervan. Those who take advantage of this opportunity to learn from the true teachers of humanity will enrich themselves intellectually, morally, and spiritually.'

'Learning the Good Life is a magnificent compilation of the timeless principles of human flourishing. Strolling through it, the reader cannot help but appreciate how often wise thinkers independently have come to similar ideas about living well. Across time and place, certain principles--such as detachment from earthly things, being honest, kind, and virtuous for its own sake, and leading a life aligned with one's internal principles--have stood the test of time, earning endorsements from teachers interested in helping us pursue good living together. This book pulls together works from different thinkers and traditions that might at first seem desperate--from Confucius to Plato to Fredrick Douglass--but the texts and the introduction helps the reader see how they contribute to a harmonious whole.'
Each text and author in this book contribute to the Great Conversation, the iterative dialogue on questions of origin, purpose and destiny that thoughtful people have been engaging in across human history. This anthology is essential reading for the Christian student of any age; it serves as a powerful reminder that all truth is God's truth, and that people of all backgrounds can, and have, come to appreciate his wisdom, even independent of his revelation.'

'Learning the Good Life is like an encyclopedia of the humanities that should be on the shelf of every classical school educator and every Christian educator. Starting in 450 BC, renowned scholars and teachers offer concise yet deep reflections on the wisdom of the greatest books and most important ideas that have shaped human civilization. Every chapter is food for the soul, and readers will undoubtedly come away with new knowledge and new habits that make learning fun. Particularly moving are the prayers written by scholars at the end of the book--a wellspring of faith and inspiration for anyone who cares about integrating the head and the heart.'

'There's nothing I love more than timeless literature, and this collection has it in spades. So many books today are enslaved to the pressure of the here and now; Learning the Good Life is a welcome breath of fresh air, gathering wisdom from all across the world that has proven its worth for thousands of years. Magnificent!'

'The terrors of the past threaten to tear apart the future. And perhaps that is as it should be, for none of us deserve a better future than the one we've made. But hope springs eternal from this hothouse of past and future, especially as we follow those who thought their way out of terrifying pasts toward viable and even flourishing futures. At least this is what the authors of this splendid volume would have us believe. And why not believe them? If they are right, it will be the past that saves us and books like this that get us there.'

Product Details

  • Imprint: Zondervan Academic
  • On Sale: 2022-05-03
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Zondervan Academic
  • Publication Date: 2022-05-03
  • Trim Size: 159.000mm x 248.000mm x 22.000mm
  • Weight: 589.000gr
  • Category 1 : RELIGION / Christian Education / Adult
  • Category 2 : SELF-HELP / Personal Growth / Happiness