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Learning the Good Life

Learning the Good Life

Wisdom from the Great Hearts and Minds that Came Before

Jessica Hooten Wilson & Jacob Stratman

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Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Zondervan Academic
Publish Date: May 3, 2022
Language: English
ISBN-10: –
ISBN-13: –

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 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 trusted and assured voices from the past, inviting Christians into an age-old conversation with some of history’s wisest hearts and minds as their dialogue companions. Featuring classic writings from a diverse lineup of over 35 writers and thinkers including Confucius, Augustine, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, W.E.B. DuBois, Flannery O’Connor, and Wendell Berry. Together these sages of the past address important issues such as: Vocation Calling Meaning Suffering Beauty Virtue Learning Wisdom Critical Thinking Community Wonder Reflection And more Each of these texts are introduced by experts who are teachers, from a variety of Christian colleges and universities, to help provide a broader, richer, and more cohesive narrative in which Christians may participate. In addition to a substantive introduction, each text is accompanied by discussion questions to provoke further thought and contemplation and also to facilitate discussion when used in groups. Ideal for any Christian seeking a deeper connection to the wisdom of the past and wanting a more cohesive and beautiful vision of the good life. All the writers 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 instead, dedicate your time to learning, thinking, and loving.
Writers and writings featured in Learning the Good Life include Lao Tzu, From Tao Te Ching Confucius, Selections Plato, The Allegory of the Cave Seneca the Younger, “On the Shortness of Life” Athanasius, On the Incarnation Gregory of Nazianzus, On My Own Verses Augustine, On the Teacher Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book I. Pope Gregory the Great, Life of Saint Benedict, Dialogues, Book 2 Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno 1 Nezahualcoyotl, “A Flower Song of Nezahualcoyotl” Margery Kempe, From “The Book of Margery Kempe” William Shakespeare, King Lear John Amos Comenius, From The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart George Herbert, Five Poems Blaise Pascal, Selections Matsuo Basho, Three Haiku Poems Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, “Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz” John Milton, Areopagitica Jonathan Edwards, “Personal Narrative” Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France Lord Alfred Tennyson, “Ulysses” Frederick Douglass, Narrative Life Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Aurora Leigh Henry David Thoreau, “Life Without Principle” Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” Fredrich Nietzsche, Use and Abuse of History (section IV) Anna Julia Cooper, From Womanhood: A Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race W. E. B. DuBois, From The Souls of Black Folk Jarena Lee, From her autobiography Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together Simone Weil, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies” Flannery O’Connor, “Enduring Chill” Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture and Only the Lover Sings David Foster Wallace, “This is Water” Marilynne Robinson, “Reclaiming a Sense of the Sacred” Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”


Jessica Hooten Wilson (PhD, Baylor University) is the Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. She has written for The Gospel Coalition, National Review, the Christian CenturyComment magazine, and Englewood Review of Books and is the author of several books, including the Christianity Today Book Award Winner Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Wilson speaks regularly around the country and has connections with a broad array of reading communities and classical education forums.

Jacob Stratman (PhD, Marquette University) is Dean of Humanities, Bible and Arts at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Dr. Jacob Stratman’s research and teaching interests include Christianity and literature, young adult literature, disability studies, pedagogy and hospitality, and American literature. His first book of poems, What I Have I Offer with Two Hands, is a part of the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books).


“A magnificant compilation of the timeless principles of human flourishing.”

Alexandra Hudson

“Learning the Good Life is like an encyclopedia of the humanities.”

Margarita Mooney Suarez

“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.”

Jonathan Tran

“Those who take advantage of this opportunity to learn from the true teachers of humanity will enrich themselves intellectually, morally, and spiritually.”

Robert P. George