The Life of Meaning

The Life of Meaning

Reflections on Faith, Doubt, and Repairing the World

By Bob Abernethy and William Bole, with a Foreword by Tom Brokaw

Nautilus Book Awards Gold Winner 2008

The Life of Meaning presents conversations with 59 extraordinary people speaking candidly about their own spiritual struggles. Their insights on community, prayer, suffering, religious observance, the choice to live with or without a god, and the meanings that are gleaned from everyday life form an elegant meditation on the desire for something beyond what we can see and measure. Among those profiled are Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Harold Kushner, Madeleine L’Engle, Studs Terkel, Andrew Greeley, Anne Lamott, Francis Collins, Marianne Williamson, Irving Greenberg, Thomas Lynch, Thich Nhat Hanh, Marilynne Robinson, and William Sloane Coffin.

Drawn primarily from interviews conducted by Bob Abernethy and his team at PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, The Life of Meaning chronicles the ways in which individual leaps of faith can repair the world—and ourselves.

A production of Thirteen/WNET, published by Seven Stories Press in 2007 (released in paperback a year later)

Reviews and Praise

“A rich feast of accumulated wisdom”
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“This rich, meaningful book is, literally, an answer to your prayers or, if you prefer, a fascinating journey through the labyrinth of questions we all have about life, faith, God, choices and doubts….Bob Abernethy and William Bole have done us all a great favor with this collection….”
Tom Brokaw, from the Foreword

“Some books—almost all books, in fact—are for reading. Only occasionally is there that stately book which is so substantial, and yet so open and present, that it is for being with. This is a book for being with…. The Life of Meaning is more infused with wisdom than any I have seen in many, many a year.”
Phyllis Tickle

“This is a feast of ideas and insights, a banquet of hard-won wisdom to which you can return time and again when your heart yearns for inspiration and your intellect for illumination.”
Bill Moyers

“A noted theologian (Paul Tillich) said that religion is a search for the truth about our relationship with God and our fellow human beings. This book will help us in that search.”
Jimmy Carter

“Filled with ideas of people from scientists to writers, the book dismantles the myth that postmodern thinking offers little room for faith.”
Religion News Service

“If you want to know how a wide and divergent array of thoughtful Americans understand and practice their religious faith, no other one book can tell you more than this collection of honest and often powerfully moving reflections.”
Peter Steinfels, New York Times religion columnist, co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture.


  1. Understanding many of the complexities of the universe and how we got here and “HOW We Became Human” is enough for me to be SPIRTUAL about!!!

Leave a Comment