“New York Times writer David Brooks’ new book, On the Road to Character, examines what it takes to create a virtuous life,” says Elise Hilton in this week’s Acton Commentary. “The author’s central question: Does a person of character focus solely on building on one’s strengths or does he confront and improve his weaknesses?”
It is an interesting topic for a man who makes his living writing pithy, sometimes political, columns in a very secular newspaper. While Brooks is Jewish, a Christian will be comfortable with his language and motifs. And in the end, the book is not simply about character, but about sin, grace and salvation.
This is not an interpretation. Brooks himself reflects, “I wrote it to be honest, to save my own soul.” While the beginning of the book speaks to professional achievement and what it takes to make it in one’s field of endeavor, the book’s secondary themes of joy, love, and redemption make this more than a self-help book or guide to success. In fact, it reads as a decidedly religious work.