3 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever heard of the term "serentrepid"? Probably not, unless you have read Don't Worry, We'll Make It: The Art of Serene Fearlessness by Leo Bilings. Mr. Billings coins the term and writes "serentrepid is a combination formed from the words serene and intrepid, meaning a serene fearlessness." (P.11) Written almost like a devotional, with short affirmations that should be reflected on one at a time, this book describes Mr. Billings' belief system which rejects dogma, and values observation, critical thinking, personal choice, self control and failure. He asks the big questions of existence, such as "How did this all come about? Where did I come from? Do I go anywhere after I die?" (P.13)
His stated goal in the description of the book is to present short entries geared toward "the Twitter generation". He accomplishes this goal with an attractive layout. Quotes by Nietzsche, Aristotle, Helen Keller and Gandhi, among others, alternate with one- to two-page affirmations of the author's belief system. There are 45 short chapters, a clickable table of contents and ten lined pages at the end of the book for readers' personal notes and reflections on the text. It is written from the first person perspective, speaking directly to the reader.
Mr. Billings has a Christian background, having completed seminary when he was younger, but the beliefs put forward in the book are not Christian in their entirety. In "The Serentrepid Tenets" Mr. Billings repeats the recurring theme of the book when he writes, "I am here to love others, do good works, and forgive those who offend me." (P.19) Kindness, hope, responsibility and charity are values discussed in the work, but the author also makes statements that are not biblical. For example, in his meditation on suffering, Mr. Billings writes "I don't need to pray and ask for God's intervention..." (P.49), and in "Spiritual Intervention" he asserts that "God does not intervene in the world..." (P.123) The author shrugs off being labeled or placed in any known category, hence the term "serentrepid".
The author's opposition to being affiliated with any known religion is often thwarted by his use of biblical precepts and allusions to scriptures. For example, in the piece titled "Religion", he paraphrases 1 Corinthians 13 in his discussion of the hypocrisy of works without love.
The sum impression the reader comes away with is that Mr. Billings has spent much time considering the big questions inherent in the human condition, and that he does not take them lightly. While he may not have answers to all the questions, he has found a way to live his life in constant awareness of them, and to be at peace as he does. My favorite pieces in the collection are "I'm Afraid to Quit" and "Don't Make Me a Victim". In the former the author argues for quitting and starting afresh as a means to greater success when the current path is obviously failing. In the latter the author rejects being called a victim, as victimhood hinders progress and helping others.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The content is thought-provoking, the layout is appealing, the electronic format is user-friendly and the entire work appears to be professionally edited. What keeps me from giving Don't Worry We'll Make It: The Art of Serene Fearlessness a higher rating is the inconsistent voice. While Mr. Billings rejects organized religion, the apparent foundation for his serene fearlessness is Christianity. He makes several statements that are not biblical, but much of the work paraphrases scriptural concepts.
Don't Worry, We'll Make It
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