The Magnetic Pull of Opposites


the good life

“Not only did prison radically transform my view of life, but the experience also gave me the one thing I thought I would never have again–an opportunity to serve others in significant ways….I discovered the first of life’s great paradoxes: Out of suffering and defeat often comes victory.

Even though Charles Colson’s book, The Good Life, precedes some of his later ones, if you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out on finding for one thing, where happiness lies and, as a matter of fact–is it even necessary? Someone once said,

“Happiness does not come from what you have, but from what you are.”    

That idea is what Colson is trying to explain in his chapter “My Happiness, Right or Wrong.” It will change how you think about truth in your life.

Each chapter of this book could be its own bestseller. It is that interesting. In “Laughing at Death” you will find the most extraordinary story of a young female prisoner in China who came to know Christ. It is worth the entire book just to read how courageous, determined, and bold she was never giving up on her faith while suffering unimaginable tortures.

In “Living Legacies,” once again Colson reminds us “Living for others makes life worthwhile.” Where else will you hear about Perm Camp 35 in Moscow, Russia, that houses 3,000 prisoners?

It’s a place where Colson was invited to visit. Every one of those prisoners read his book Loving God. In a letter to the missionary who gave them Colson’s book, they wrote:

“When we learned that he [Colson] too had been in prison, we understood that he knew the meaning of freedom. In other words, we who hated, and thought that such feelings were experienced by all people, learned that it was possible to learn to love God and other people.”

So, the question “is happiness even necessary?” makes us really think. Colson does an excellent job challenging our minds near the end of his book.

“The classical understanding of happiness, which is also the Christian view, is in direct conflict with the way people think in today’s society.”

“Freud…made a direct correlation between happiness and pleasure….C. S. Lewis says happiness is found in relationships, not in merely gratifying our own desires.”

We all knew this, right? But Colson makes us think way beyond the common understanding of so many different subjects. And that is why I give The Good Life a 4 Armchair Rating.




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