Scrutinizing “Resisting Happiness”

Matthew Kelly sent me a copy of his new book Resisting Happiness, and I recently read it.

New Words, Old Meanings

This book is about the perennial human struggle to grow in faith, hope, and love while overcoming sin.

resistbookHence, we “resist happiness” because we have concupiscence–the tendency toward sin–and so we are tempted to be lazy, gluttonous, prideful, and selfish.

Kelly avoids these traditional words in order to make the book accessible to non-Catholics, secular people, and Catholics who don’t know their Faith well. This is Kelly’s target audience and his mission, and that must be kept in mind when reading the book as a Catholic strong in your faith.

Self-Help Catholicism?

Kelly tells many anecdotes in this book–one of his hallmarks–and even admits to recycling several stories from previous books into this one. Reading Kelly’s books the same themes emerge under slightly different window dressing: become the best version of yourself (e.g. holiness, becoming a saint in traditional lingo); discover that Catholicism is true, grow in virtue.

kelly1Many people criticize Kelly because he can come across as promoting “self-help” Catholicism or that his writing is too surface-level.

My response is that Kelly is targeting the huge masses of people who don’t go to church, who fell away from Catholicism, who are nominal in their Faith.

Recently in fact, a reader messaged me describing three people he is talking with–all secular to a large degree, with lots of problems, far from God in most ways–and he asked me what books I’d recommend.

I told him something by Fr. (Bishop) Barron or Matthew Kelly. Quite frankly they are the kinds of authors that reach people who are on the outside of the Church. I respect them for that and don’t expect to read an Imitation of Christ when I pick up one of their books.

Plus, even for a Catholic apologist like me, I need reminders of the basics: in reading Resisting Happiness many times it made me reflect on my own life and how I let laziness steer me off course in my spiritual life. So there is something for everyone in it.