Simpson, Stephen W. Assaulted by Joy: The Redemption of a Cynic. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.
Normally, I review books that are directly related to biblical studies. But Robin Geelhoed at Zondervan contacted me about the book in question. Wanting to stretch a bit I decided to take it on. I am glad I did. Assaulted by Joy is a series of personal vignettes describing the author’s journey from cynicism to joy. The approach is generally effective since joy is more easily illustrated than defined. Using both personal tragedy and triumph, Simpson demonstrates that joy is more of a journey than a destination and that cynicism is a constant and attractive detour along the way. And that joy, contrary to popular understanding, is not best produced individually but rather cultivated in community and in relationship with others. Overall, the book is personable and easy to read and I could not help but identify with the author’s struggle with cynicism. That being said, I wonder whether the cynics that could benefit most from this book, will conclude that Simpson’s book is too simplistic, shallow, and saccharine. Or is that simply me being cynical?