Friday, May 2, 2008

Gut Check

Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, and Manhood in Your Twenties is a interesting new book by Tarek Saab. I only recently became aware of Mr. Saab as I heard him being interviewed on several Catholic podcasts and he presents an interesting story. One of his claims for fame is that he was a contestant on the reality show The Apprentice and he advanced fairly far before being fired by Donald Trump. I've never seen the show since so-called reality shows aren't my thing. But the book itself only talks very peripherally about his experience on the show and the book addresses much more serious topics.

Tarek Saab is the son of a Lebanese father and American mother and grew up Catholic. The book mostly begins with his experiences in college and the story he tells will be familiar to many. His schooling becomes a time when faith is put on the back burner and partying and chasing after women becomes the number one priority. Though Tarek never quite loses his faith in school and would still attend Mass as more of a social thing than out of any love for the Mass. While going to school at times he evaluates his life and sees the wrong in it and then sets himself out on the right path only to stumble and fall back once again into familiar habits. Something else that many of us can relate to. He relates these periods of self-reflection and the pursuit of a belief in God.

This book follows around the course of a conversion story, but it is not an overtly apologetic one of coming to fully believe in specific doctrines and making the case for them. His story is more of someone who never quite leaves faith out of his life, but at the same time never fully lets his faith enter into his whole life. He kept his faith in a sphere separate and groups of friends within each sphere. After college he enters a Fortune 500 company and is soon on the fast track in the corporate life.

Reading through the book I was reminded of St. Augustine's "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.", something that he also later goes on and quotes in the book. He writes in a forthright manner and is quite frank on his failings and the various episodes in his life before his fuller conversion. I found his spiritual biography to be quite insightful with many things to ponder. You could see the hound of Heaven following him and while at first he was not fully living a life as a Catholic, his Catholic faith was always there even if in a weakened state. This is a good reminder to those with children who have left the practice of the faith or have only made it a cultural expression. God is always pursuing is and there are those moments of grace when we slow down and actually let him catch us.

I found this to be a quite enjoyable read and Tarek is a good writer who could write about himself without at the same time making the book all about himself and making his story relatable to others.

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