Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 13, 2004
Books urge each of us to take action
Light One Candle
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
At the heart of the Christopher message is the conviction that just one person, putting to use his or her God-given abilities, can make a positive difference in the world. You can imagine my delight, then, in seeing that message on virtually every page of two new books, both of them written by well-known men and both of them imbued from cover to cover with the spirit of The Christophers.
Not only is one of them about making a difference; it actually uses that phrase in the title. It's Fifty-Two Simple Ways to Make a Difference (Augsburg Books), completed by the late Paul Simon, former Democratic senator from Illinois, shortly before he died last December.
In 52 brief chapters, Simon uses personal examples or tells about people he's known to illustrate the contributions we can make by using common sense and doing positive things. They range from the simple - Volunteer, Donate to Good Causes, Listen to People - to more complicated undertakings, such as working with others to help former prisoners find a job. But each of them is eminently do-able.
Bob Dole, a former Senate colleague, said that for years he witnessed first-hand Simon's "compassion and caring for those in need." Of the new book he adds: "Once again, he calls on us to help create a better world though simple, everyday acts of kindness and generosity. We can follow his lead and make a difference, just as he did during his illustrious life."
Another figure who's made a difference, in another arena, is John Wooden, the long-time basketball coach at UCLA. His 10 NCAA championships in 12 years speak to his coaching prowess, but they carry no hint of the man within. And, as it turns out, quite a man he is.
In Coach Wooden One-on-One, co-written with Jay Carty (Regal Books), he demonstrates why the difference he's made extends far beyond the athletic record books. He is a man of faith and a man of prayer, and he writes about his spiritual life in a straightforward manner.
Wooden's book instantly reminded me of the one Simon had written. In 60 short individual readings he passes along his own hints for living, all of them designed to strengthen individual faith and to brighten the lives of others - once again, making a difference.
At 92 years plus, John Wooden has had a lot of life to live, and the advice he dispenses here has a homespun quality about it. It has a truth about it, too, and that's one of the things that makes it so appealing. The coach talks about overcoming adversity, giving thanks, getting to the point, and dozens of other practical topics. He's well worth listening to.
There's no mention of The Christophers in either Fifty-Two Simple Ways to Make a Difference or Coach Wooden One-on-One, but either one could be a Christopher textbook.
Do what you can to make this a better world, these books tell us, and remember where you came from. I think Maryknoll Father James Keller, who founded The Christophers nearly 60 years ago, would be delighted to know that the Christopher spirit is so visibly alive and well.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Right This Minute - You Can Change The World, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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