The 15-point Humility Code at the end of David Brooks’s new book, The Road to Character, echoes like a warning siren in our “age of authenticity,” calling out to the Western world, “You’re doing it wrong.” The New York Times columnist and New York Times bestselling author of such books as The Social Animal and Bobos in Paradise offers a message more countercultural that what you’ll hear from many evangelical pulpits today. Here’s a sampling:

  • “We don’t live for happiness, we live for holiness.”
  • “In the struggle against your own weakness, humility is the greatest virtue.”
  • “Pride is the central vice.”
  • “We are all ultimately saved by grace.”
  • “The person who successfully struggles against weakness and sin may or may not become rich and famous, but that person will become mature.”

The critical work writers such as sociologist Robert Bellah and philosopher Charles Taylor underlie the narrative, which explores the character development of influential 20th-century figures including Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, and Dorothy Day but also extending back to the great North African theologian of the late Roman period, Augustine of Hippo.

Brooks joined me for a half-hour interview to discuss why sincerity shouldn’t impress, how suffering forms us, when responsibility shields us from honesty, and what truly matters in life—including whether he saved his soul in writing the book.