Living and Dying With Purpose and Grace Book Review

Updated on July 19, 2018
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

Living and Dying with Purpose and Grace is one of those books you can open to any page and find something of value. Author James Armstrong, former President of the National Council of Churches and longtime Christian minister of faith, shares within these few pages a vast treasury of knowledge and life experiences.

His mind, sharpened by the ageless pursuit of wisdom, has accumulated a multitude of life lessons through his positions of leadership and decades of service that span the globe.

This is not a book for the meek, the fence sitters or the doubters. It is a serious book that identifies what we need to do to improve our lives. It surpasses others of its type in its richness of examples of real people whose lives serve as role models, some which can be seen as positive examples and others as warnings. The author explains in specific detail the things we must do to grow beyond ourselves and find true happiness.

Mr. Armstrong teaches that if we leave behind our selfishness, cruelty, hate and despair and replace it with other-centered love we will be on the road to recovery as individuals and as a society. What will deliver us from moral failure and self-worship? He explains that we are the master of our fates and that what we believe is a key factor.

He says, “Not a one of us is a finished product.”

Source

He writes about putting our suffering into perspective. He speaks of people who have surpassed the worst sorts of treatment and conditions to rise above it all, filled with an enduring sense of gratitude and love for others. He touches on things that are absorbed from studying the lives of people such as Victor Frankl, Elie Wiesel, the spirituality of the Dalai Lama and the life of Gandhi.

He highlights examples in former prisoner of war US Senator John McCain held captive and tortured for five and a half years in Hanoi, and Tammy Duckworth, a helicopter pilot who lost both legs in combat and compares the fact that though they differ radically on political issues they share “the purpose – the love of country - of what drove them to this risk and sacrifice.”

He suggests that, “Why we suffer may define our person hood more eloquently than the fact that we have suffered.”

Mr. Armstrong says we will not grow until we move beyond merely accepting Christ and actually "apply the principles." We are taught in what Rick Warren calls "the greatest sermon ever preached,” The Sermon on the Mount, that by applying the “love ethic” and “personal wholeness” and “other-centered living that rings out in the message of that sermon, we move away from unhappiness toward becoming a “fully-functioning person.”

In essence, “You won’t be the person you can become unless and until you outgrow self-worship.” He says that “Our highest purposes are to cultivate our inner worlds while helping meet the needs of those about us . . . love others even as we love ourselves.”

"I've looked at clouds from both sides now. . ."
"I've looked at clouds from both sides now. . ." | Source

As we come into maturity, we take notice of the things around us often missed by our younger selves. We begin to feel the burn of our poor choices of the past. He says it's never too late to change course and travel in a different direction.

The writer suggests, “the prayers we pray are the overriding interests of our lives and reflect our ambitions, perhaps even our obsessions." He asks what kind of God we have. Have we chosen one like the Reverend Jim Jones or the one of David Koresh? Or have we chosen a God like Albert Einstein’s? Armstrong describes Albert Einstein’s humble nature and life of selfless simplicity as one whose “gentle spirit and concern for others gave special meaning to his scientific endeavors.”

Albert Einstein 1947

Source

He asks us to consider the Dalai Lama who “proposes that happiness is a by-product of spirituality" and suggests that our unhappiness as individuals may be rooted in a "shallow and self-serving definition of happiness based primarily on physical pleasures.” The Dalai Lama states that in order to achieve happiness we must “be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit: Love and compassion; patience; tolerance; and forgiveness.” We must become in essence “good human beings.”

The author is a personal friend of Fred Rogers, known across the world as Mister Rogers, who believed that it was our job to help foster “the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings.”

Dalai Lama 2017

By U.S. Institute of Peace (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By U.S. Institute of Peace (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Through Mr. Armstrong’s extensive worldwide travels, which he believes opens up our sphere of consciousness and changes our world view, he met Fidel Castro, Lee Tai-Young, and a host of others who deeply affected his beliefs. Their stories are a shared part of his own development from studying people like Lee Atwater, Carl Adkins, Randy Pausch and others. He is a close personal friend of 1972 Democratic nominee for US. President retired Senator George McGovern who penned a stirring foreword to this thought provoking manuscript.

Autographed by the author
Autographed by the author | Source

The author draws from a life enriched by experience and practice, providing important clues to set our lives in the direction that will ultimately be all that matters. In his brief and upbeat chapters on Dying he talks about the importance of savoring the good memories of our lives and blotting out the bad; tearing up the lists we've each made of the times we've been betrayed or deeply offended and about looking at old age as a gift – the time of our lives when we can be “the person I always wanted to be.”

This book holds within its slender volume of one hundred pages words that can change lives. These are methods that can help us travel beyond our own needs, align our moral compasses and take us forward in a new direction.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Peg Cole

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        2 months ago from The Beautiful South

        Seem to be improving, thank you. Looking forward to an active fall and lots of beautiful pictures.

        Hope you are well too.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Jackie, That's the best way to start feeling better, I think. Counting my blessings and seeing others who are less fortunate really works for me as well. Seems like we have a lot in common. I love to photograph clouds and often see images in them.

        Speaking of that, I hope your health is improving and you're feeling loads better. Hubby is doing a lot better after a few sessions of PT. Be well.

        Thanks so much for your visit.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        2 months ago from The Beautiful South

        Sounds like a great book to spend time in Peg. I often remind myself of others less fortunate when I feel sorry for myself.

        Loved the Bee Gees song, can't hear enough of them. Loved your cloud picture being a favorite pass time of mine. I pick days with clouds to take pictures because they are so plain without them as a back ground. I see a couple of faces in yours too as I usually do mine.

        Enjoyed this so much!

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Yes, I also wonder when we will abandon hate, William. It seems to be gaining ground lately.

        "All we need is love," said the Beatles how many years ago?

        "What the world needs now is love, sweet love. . . no not just for some, but for everyone," Burt Bacharach.

        Anyhow, thanks so much for coming by.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        "Mr. Armstrong teaches that if we leave behind our selfishness, cruelty, hate and despair and replace it with other-centered love we will be on the road to recovery as individuals and as a society." Well-said. it just needs to be a reality. When? I don't know. Good review, Peg!

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Dora, Thanks so much for dropping by. I'm also enchanted by those words and the author's message to the living.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Michael, Your thoughtful comment is much appreciated.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        2 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks for the review of this book. I love the theme and would like to read it. Very appealing to me is this: “Why we suffer may define our person hood more eloquently than the fact that we have suffered." I'm passionate about purpose.

      • profile image

        Michael Milec 

        2 months ago

        How wonderful! Thank you Peg Cole for a review of this perhaps the most important information humanity of any age needs to know about life and living at any age. The sooner - better to meet the source of all truth-the Man of Galilee, accepting His way of righteousness and to be ready living with purpose and never "die" spiritually.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Peggy, You are so right with this insightful statement. We both know what age brings to our parents and at that stage we learn what is really important about living.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        2 months ago from Houston, Texas

        This sounds like a wonderful book to read. Thanks for the review of it Peg. Old age can indeed be a gift if we continue to learn what is most important in life.

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 

        2 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hi Peg - Your review is well worth my time. I hope I said something nice the first time.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Mike, Your comment the first time this was published here was my all-time favorite and I captured it in a screen shot for posterity.

        My apologies for moving this one around a couple of times. I did a comparison from the other site to this and the views in a couple of days have already surpassed the other place. Again, thank you so much.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hi Linda, Thanks so much for taking time to read this review and for your insightful remarks about the author of the book. He met so many interesting people during his travels and shared their best and worst.

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 

        2 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hi Peg - This books sounds so familiar. You always do such a nice job with your book reviews. I wonder if there is money to be made as a professional book reviewer. hmmm

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Liz, The book is a quick read with powerful messages. I hope you enjoy reading it. Thanks so much for the kind remarks.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This sounds like a valuable book, Peg. I believe that wisdom can be found in many religions and spiritualities. Based on your review, I think I would like James Armstrong's book not only because of the advice that he shares but also because he has studied the lives of people from very different backgrounds. I'll look out for the book.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Bill, It sounds like you have at least half of the battle under control. Purpose seems the more elusive of the two. Thank you for gracing me with your presence here today. See? Looks like you have it all under control.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Frank, Thank you so much. I hope you are doing well. Nice to see you here today.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        This is an inspirational book review. There's a lot to take away and digest from the review on its own, let alone from the book itself.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I live with purpose. I doubt seriously that I live with grace, but at least it gives me something to shoot for. lol Thanks for the book review.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Mary, That is an admirable search along with your daily ambition. Thanks for sharing this important insight.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        2 months ago from Shelton

        Peg, I really enjoy your reviews... they are true to form and detailed awesome job...

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        I wish I can live in grace and with purpose. Am still on search for the purpose of my life. Anyway, I try to live well each day. Spirituality really helps.

      • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

        Peg Cole 

        2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Hello Flourish, Thanks so much for taking the time to read this book review. The author is dear to my heart. He's still active at 93, involved in politics, and stays on top of current events. He was a strong influence in my formative years.

        I attended a church where he was the minister. He really drew in the crowds in a building that held 2,000, and his sermons were always memorable.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 months ago from USA

        Your review was very helpful, especially for anyone searching for more meaning in their lives. It’s an interesting way he looks at old age. I agree that suffering is a common connection.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)