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Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search for the Meaning of Life Paperback – 2 Jan 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (2 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310250609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310250609
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,667,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Herb25 on 12 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enjoyed reading this book. Takes a panoramic view of some answers to the big question. Initial chapter or two could be a bit depressing for some - but well worth persevering to the more hopeful sections.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A LONG JOURNEY HOME by Os Guinness 4 Oct. 2001
By Mr. David W. Virtue - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Not since C.S. Lewis wrote Mere Christianity in 1943 has a book the potential to influence a generation of Christianity's cultured despisers as Dr. Os Guinness's new book "Long Journey Home." A guide to your seasrch for the Meaning of Life.
Guinness is not only a prolific writer, (he has 21 titles to his
name), he is a first rank Christian thinker, apologist and one of the world's ablest defenders of historic Christianity in a world increasingly shaped by post-moderniem, religious pluriformity and sexual diversity. His book divides into four sections. A Time for Questions, A Time for Answers, A Time for Evidence and a Time for Commitment.
Guinness is the master of the anecdotal quote. In one chapter, "An examined life in an unexamined age" he manages, in just two pages to quote Huxley, Simone Weil, Ann Lamott, Annie Dillard, and concludes with this golden paragraph. "The fact is that many of the greatest thinkers, writers, artists, musicians, scientists, inventors, poets, and reformers throughout Western history ahve been people of profound and genuine faith--Augustine, Dante, Gutenberg, Pascal, Rembrandt, Newton, Bach, Handel, Wilberforce, Dostoevsky, and T.S. Eliot, to name a few--yet faith continues to be dismised by many of the educated and cultured as something only for the uneducated and uncultured."
This book is must reading for any intelligent agnostic, for those who may have lost their faith, or for hard core atheists.
I cannot say enough good things about it. Simply buy it.
David W. Virtue
The nation's largest evangelical and orthodox Episcopal/Anglican Online News Service read by more than 80,000 readers in 36 countries.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A Seeker's Roadmap 20 Aug. 2004
By M. P. Ryan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Author of numerous works of theology, religious sociology and cultural apologetics, Os Guinness is one of today's most perceptive and engaging writers. This, his latest book, is an exceptional work that deserves to be read widely and disseminated eagerly.

Written as a seeker's road map to the quest for meaning, and presented as an exploration of the road toward meaning as taken by countless thoughtful seekers over the centuries (p.8), Long Journey Home offers insight into how such meaning can be found today. Beginning with the dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living (p.12) and concluding with the realization that the untransformed life is not worth finding (p.204), Guinness invites the reader to join him, and to recognize with him, that the humanness of life as a journey is something we should all care enough about to want to make sense of (p.9). Winsomely written, replete with stories and choice quotations, I believe this volume and its approach will resonate with significant numbers of people.

Structured around four major sections, with each section highlighting a particular stage of the journey, this work offers no `keys' to happiness, no `short cuts' to success and no `techniques' to master. Avoiding both simplism and stereotype, Guinness offers the thoughtful seeker only a well-beaten path to follow. The stages of the journey mapped out by Guinness are: (1) The asking of questions, (2) Actively seeking out answers to the questions, (3) Evaluating the evidence for the answers, and (4) Commitment to what is discovered, realizing that all stages of the journey ought to culminate in responsible action.

In the first section, Guinness introduces the journey by pointing to the human desire to know meaning beyond the meaning we know. Building on sociologist Peter Berger's identification of "signals of transcendence" (those catalytic experiences in everyday life that point to a higher reality), Guinness illustrates the impetus deep within us all to search for more. Pointing to G.K.Chesterton's experience of gratitude, W.H.Auden's absolute sense of justice and the impossibility of not condemning evil, as well as C.S.Lewis' deep sense of joy, Guinness articulates how such experiences raise questions and creates seekers.

With the second stage of the journey characterized by actively seeking answers to the specific questions raised the focus of this volume now falls on truth-claims and the nature of the search for answers (p.68f). Showing his practical genius in narrowing down what could potentially be an overwhelming search, Guinness counters two frequently voiced objections. First, that the search for answers is unnecessary (because all beliefs at their core are the same), and second, that the search for answers is impossible (because there are too many beliefs to investigate). Guinness then shows how the truth lies somewhere in between and in so doing introduces the idea of `families of faith' (p.69). By addressing the vexed question of evil, suffering and death among the Eastern, Secular Western and Biblical `families of faith' that Guinness exemplifies how the search for answers can proceed.

Building on the answers gleaned in the previous stage, the third stage of the journey commences when the answers arrived at are evaluated. In short, this stage asks: Are the answers uncovered true? Acknowledging the controversial nature of truth-claims today, Guinness attempts to clear away some of the fog (p.120ff) and to shed light on the notion of truth. (Following in the footsteps of Francis Schaeffer, he talks about truth in terms of its correspondence to reality and its livability). Managing to avoid a complicated and protracted discussion of all things epistemological, the argument of this section is propelled forward by exposing two common roadblocks: the skepticism of old wounds and the skepticism of bad experiences inflicted by people of faith (p.132). Leading ultimately to a consideration of the identity of Jesus Christ, Guinness shows his dissatisfaction with those who dismiss the evidence for truth and shows up two equal and opposite mistakes: The setting up of impossible standards of truth, and the attempt to bypass the question of truth altogether (p.145). In contrast, two positive means of assessing evidence are advocated. One, the examination of particular beliefs "up close and in detail' (illustrated, in this instance, by Phillipe Haille and Eleanor Stump). And two, seeing the `big-picture' or assessing large webs of interwoven truth claims (i.e. worldviews).

In the fourth and culminating stage of the journey, Guinness focuses on individual responsibility and the full embrace of responsible faith. Emphasizing commitment in light of the conclusions the search has led to, this final section does what too few books of this genre do. It warns against the intrusion of techniques and the simplification of faith. It embraces the diversity of ways in which individuals come to faith. It highlights the holistic nature of faith, recognizing that people are far more than walking minds. It celebrates the often forgotten reality that we are never more ourselves than when we come to faith. And it wonderfully plays up the truth (illustrated by the story of Simone Weil) that we find God because He first finds us; that the secret of our quest for purpose and meaning lies not in our brilliance but in His grace.

As a reviewer, I've not rushed my description of the contents of this book because I believe the ebb and flow of its argument deserves to be highlighted. On the whole, this book deserves to be read as much by pastors and preachers as by the `seekers' it was penned for. It is an excellent volume that draws upon classical and contemporary sources (often juxtaposed in fascinating ways), which is informed by a sound biblical anthropology (cf. p.198ff), and which dares to rely upon the diverse integrity of human beings and the sovereign freedom of God. Long Journey Home is a book whose themes and approach ought to shape evangelism, inform preaching and dissuade anyone from dependence upon, generic, pre-packaged, `one size fits all' forms of witnessing.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A first-rate, stimulating read 27 Dec. 2001
By Craig - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book I've read this year. Guinness very thoughtfully and intelligently walks through the challenges of coming to terms with the deepest issues of life. For any thoughtful person who wonders how faith (real faith in a real God, not belief in belief itself) can be embraced by rational, logically thinking 21st-century people, Guinness helps you work it through without being naive or insulting, and without doing the wrestling for you. Read it and be challenged to think, and find true hope.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Journey Worth Making 12 Oct. 2003
By Paul M. Dubuc - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a very fine distillation of wisdom applied to the "big questions" of life's meaning and purpose. Os Guinness takes the reader on a tour of how the world's major religions and some of its greatest thinkers have wrestled with questions of ultimate significance. How does death and human suffering affect our sense of hope and longing for purpose and meaning for our lives? What is the place of gratitude for life's goodness? What principles are worth living and dying for? There are no prepackaged answers to these questions, of course. But whether or not we are to believe there is an answer and what road we take to lead us there are crucial steps in the journey upon which we are all embarked. Whether we conscious of it or not, life is taking us somewhere. When we get to the end, will we look back on our journey with satisfaction and fulfillment or with a sense of shame and loss? For those who feel that an unexamined life is not worth living, this book is provides much to consider. Philosophy and Religion are not an intellectual game we can play with detachment and control over the outcome. The questions are bigger than we are and the Answer must be bigger still. The implications of the search for your life's meaning, if you follow it honestly enough, will end up handling you rather than you handling them. Are you ready? Then read on...
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Decent, good and true. 6 Feb. 2002
By Joshua D. Hamilton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book. It's short, easy to read, and fairly well written. It also contains true wisdom, not only from Os, but from the brilliant thinkers across historical and cultural spectrums.
The best thing to do is accept this book for what it is and not for what the author intended it to be. Mr. Guiness sought to show how humanists, and those in western and eastern civilizations have approached the "meaning of life." Os is so overtly partial to Western thought, that he gives only cursory explanations on Eastern and humanist traditions. Besides, it just over 200 pages, can you really plumb the depths of even a single thinker from any one of these traditions?
Instead, enjoy this book as a background work that you can use to direct further study. This is philosophical book for your bedstand, that give pretty simple explanations for complex issues that mankind has grappled with since we gained constructive use of our frontal lobes.
However, despite this, I walked away with teachings and instruction that inspired, compelled and provoked me to live with a greater understanding of how I can give to others.
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