We Make a Life by What We Give

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By Richard B. Gunderman

Indiana University Press, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-253-35076-3

In this book Richard Gunderman provides twenty-two short essays that explore topics related to philanthropy, giving, and the potential to share. Each stands alone in its given topic and provides a rich understanding of humanity and how we must live in community.

Bringing forth many biblical and Greek references, Gunderman helps the reader discover a more philosophical understanding of philanthropy, while always emphasizing its profound effect on society.

Gunderman uses a quote from Winston Churchill as the title of his book, of which the overarching theme is “generosity.” While many equate this word with money, these essays dig much deeper into the soul of civilization and how all that we have and all that we are contributes to the greater good of our society. Each essay could easily be summed up as reminding us that the action of giving is as much a blessing as the action of receiving.

For those engaged in philanthropy through the work of a faith organization, a quote from chapter 18, “Are We Hospitable,” reminds us of our true calling for ministry:

We are not likely to encounter the divine in lofty religious poetry, dazzling baroque art, rich hymnal tones, or soaring cathedral spires. Instead, it is in the eyes of others that we see God. And it is through the ailing, dirty, barefoot, lost and bedraggled stranger that we are called to be hospitable.

Review by Kirby Hughes Gould, a vice president with the Christian Church Foundation (Disciples of Christ).

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