There are books that try—really try—to be read. There are others that don’t have to try at all. In fact, this class of literature is content if you just peruse and, then, indifferently, place it on the shelf. Such a book knows that you will have to return. That is the kind of book that surprised me in my Lenten reading this year.
I have read several good books this year, but the one that I will remember (like I remember AsI Lay Dying by—not Faulkner—Father Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009), the one that will remain, is The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ by Andrew Klavan. The book came out in 2016. I had wanted to read it. I missed. I was following a footnote trail when his story came up. I thought it would make an interesting addition to my Lenten reading lists. I was wrong. It tops the list.
This is not a review. It is a declaration. I love the book. That anyone should be deeply impressed with anything that author Andrew Klavan has written is hardly astounding. Many reading this humble posting are familiar with his award-winning work, e.g., in books like True Crime (Clint Eastwood made a movie from it). Read this one and you will now know him as one of the best in writing confessions. The Great Good Thing is Andrew Kavlan’s testimony, ala Augustine, and it is among the very best in the genre. More than that, the life of the Lord Jesus is not an afterthought. The risen Savior is the powerful presence in the twists and turns that lead to this self-described “secular Jew” bowing before the baptismal font, being baptized by an Anglican minister into the visible Body of Christ.
Klavan’s skilled writing is compelling on many levels. He masterfully weaves together his secular Hebrew identity, the cultural biases that were formed, the conflicts, and self-doubt, with well-placed insights from literature, religion, and, of course, the Scriptures. The book is deeply human; touching.
Now is a time for reading good books. And this one should be on your list. Despite pandemics and falling stock markets, Andrew Klavan reminds us that life remains about the great, good thing.
Klavan, Andrew. The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2016.
Neuhaus, Richard. As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning. Basic Books, 2003.