Think of it as an extended commencement address on the meaning and purpose of life. That’s how I read The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, the latest New York Times #1 bestseller by David Brooks. We’re drowning in freedom, Brooks says, when we need direction. We’re looking inside ourselves to discover our inner passion, when we should be looking for a cause that serves others. We can’t tell right from wrong, when we should be drawing on the wisdom of the ages. We need to live on that second mountain, a life of commitment to others, Brooks argues. We need guidance in the good life. He writes:

Students are taught to engage in critical thinking, to doubt, to distance, to take things apart, but they are given almost no instruction on how to attach to things, how to admire, to swear loyalty to, to copy and serve. The universities, like the rest of society, are information rich and meaning poor.

The New York Times columnist guides readers in the quest for a moral and meaningful life through four commitments: vocation, marriage, community, and philosophy and faith. I especially appreciated what he said about the marriage decision.

You would think that the schools would have provided you with course after course on the marriage decision, on the psychology of marriage, the neuroscience of marriage, the literature of marriage. But no, society is a massive conspiracy to distract you from the important choices of life in order to help you fixate on the unimportant ones.

That’s really the benefit of The Second Mountain: wisdom for focusing on the important choices of life. Brooks joined me on The Gospel Coalition Podcast to talk about joy, community, faith, and much more, including his religious journey as a self-professed wandering Jew and confused Christian.

Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast.