It speaks well of Alabama's chief justice that he finds the time, along with his work on all his legal cases, to give his attention to a case of another kind, the case of character. And that he would dare connect character and the Bible seems nearly miraculous. Yet in his book just published it is exactly this connection and the honesty with which he confronts character that makes his book so interesting.
An early copy of the book arrived at our household addressed to another member of the family, but I intercepted it and took it over. You see, I was intrigued by the book's title, since before my retirement I had taught school for over thirty years, and since l995 had been compelled by the Alabama State Department of Education to teach "character." I was told to teach character for ten minutes a day (what a joke). Who can teach about something like honesty for ten minutes a day for a week and expect 30 bright-eyed cherubs to get it?
Once I started reading The Case For Character I could not put the book down. I think it was because God's purpose might be that I needed the mind-jogging experience that this book offers. If we are lucky enough to have character in our lives it is by the divine grace and purpose of God that we have it. It is a gift taught to us directly and indirectly by loving parents, Sunday school teachers, ministers, coaches, teachers, and other devoted and loving individuals that cross our paths in the journey of life. This along with many other godly character insights can be found by reading the book.
We all are in search of happiness. Paragraph two of the book's preface tells us how to find it:
Our happiness depends on character. So does the peace of our souls. Our success in family and business depends upon our character. The strength of our nation's government and its economy rests on good character. In fact, character is the single most important building block for quality of life in any individual, company, team, or nation.
Could it be that there is so much unrest and unhappiness in the world today because we are so short on character? Or, is it that we are so concerned about being politically correct and so timid in our stand for Christ that we have danced all around the issue and failed to pass it on from one generation to another.
Sunday at church our minister told the story of seven frogs sitting on a log in a pond. Four of the frogs decided to jump into the water, and the preacher asked, How many frogs were left on the log? Since this seemed like easy math, most everyone said, "three." Then the preacher slammed dunked us by saying that the correct answer was, "seven." You see the frogs only decided to jump into the water.
The author makes exactly the same point using the words of Jesus: "In concluding His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.' (Matthew 7:24 NIV, emphasis added)." Jesus was telling us not to just decide to jump into the water but to actually jump in and put His teachings into practice as we walk out into the world each day of our lives.
Part 2 of the book, The Content of Character, was especially interesting to me. There are not many of the eight words the author gives as essential character words (humility, faith, hope, wisdom, courage, self-control, justice, love) that you would find on the Alabama State Department of Education's character list. Is it because that "to grow in these virtues is to have a godly character." What better character to have than to have a godly one. Today we have separated Jesus and His teachings, the core of character, from our schools. How can you teach children character (virtue) without using the teachings of Jesus.
The last part of the book is about Character in the Real World. The three final sections are about character in government, business, and leadership. It would be good if some of the people who have been given the opportunity to serve in these rolls would read this book.
I highly recommend this book. If you are a parent, church youth director, government official, businessman, or teacher, this book will lift the vail of political correctness from your eyes and you will see with a new light the responsibilities that God has given each of us.