Just finished the biography of Dallas. It brought back a lot of memories of conversations I had with him over the years. I was impressed with the way Gary Moon treated Dallas' imperfections and traits that were less known. I give Jane Willard and the family high marks for their honesty as well. Often times, families want to gloss over reality, but the book gently, but firmly, was honest. A big take away was that Dallas was not always the practitioner of what he advocated. In other words, what we advertise or teach as the pathway to transformation is not always the actual ways that transformed us. I had several discussions with him about personal devotions et al and what the book said about his use of Psalm 23 and the Lord's Prayer were accurate to my remembrance. I also found several parts of the book moving and proved to be a tearful experience for me. I was dabbing my eyes on the airplane as I read. I thought the book picked up momentum as I read and proved to be thought provoking. I was sad when it ended, I wish it had been longer. If the reader knew Dallas Willard personally, those memories made the words take on special meaning and power. My critique is not an emotionally removed literary statement, but from someone who was ministered to by Dallas himself and by remembering so many things that made him special. I hope that many who read this will take up some of the books that Dallas wrote, it may cause them to take up a new life in Christ.
I just finished reading Gary Moon's new biography of Dallas Willard, 'Becoming Dallas Willard' and all I can say is "Wow." I own almost all of Willard's Christian books but I've only read 'The Spirit of the Disciplines.' I've had every intention of reading 'The Divine Conspiracy' and 'The Great Omission' but have just never found the time. I'm going to find the time now. Dallas Willard was a philosopher who swam against the stream. He believed, taught, and argued that there is a reality beyond the one we see. The Kingdom of God truly is here. God is literally "at my right hand" (Psalm 16:8). The Christian world claims to believe these things, but do we really? And how does it affect our daily living? These are the questions that Dallas wrestled with - and attempted to live - throughout his life. From his early childhood in Missouri to his years teaching philosophy at USC, Dallas Willard's life is an inspiration. It will challenge you. It will encourage you. And it just might leave you with a tear or two.
What a gift Gary Moon has given us. Those who have read some of Dallas's books on being an apprentice of Jesus will get a virtual seat at his feet and begin to sense why so many felt being with Dallas was what it must be like to be with Jesus. For those who knew Dallas and worked with him there are many times when you put the book down and reminisce or wipe away a tear of being in his presence once more. And the author's interweaving of Dallas's thought and many books in his first discipline, philosophy, together with his work in scripture, theology, psychology is thorough and deep yet accessible and even downright as "homespun" as the country boy that was Dallas. From the succinct summaries of Dallas' main themes to the eye witness accounts of the banquet for his honor that made Dallas squirm, Gary has taken us behind the scenes and into the heart of our beloved teacher. This is clearly a labor of love from a beloved colleague, friend and fellow Jesus apprentice of Dallas who invites us to bask in the light of a giant like C. S. Lewis, and a flawed human being whom the author rightly termed "a once in 500 years kind of person" at his passing in May of 2013. Gary, you did justice and honor to our teacher whose USC colleague described him with words originally for Socrates, "as the best, wisest and most just man" we have ever known.
If I could describe Dr. Moon's biography of Dr. Willard in one word, it would be, "Hopeful." Dr. Willard has been a personal hero and mentor to me through his writings and whatever video and audio resources I can find on the internet for many years. After reading "Becoming Dallas Willard" I was left filled with hope. I had no idea he had come through so many struggles to become the humble genius that he was. This biography is honest about not only his early life, but the personal and marital issues he went through. It is so easy to think our spiritual heroes are sort of bullet proof spiritually and must be the most awesome husband and best father ever. The book encouraged me since God led and grew Dr. Willard in and through his issues and struggles, there is hope still for me also! God bless Dr. Moon and the Willard family for giving us this profound insight into the life of such a wonderful person.
In the Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard wrote that “Jesus took time in his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount to point out the natural beauty in every human being.” In a like manner, this biography by Gary Moon brings out the natural beauty of Dallas Willard's life.
This book honors the upbringing, academic achievement, Kingdom significance, and even the struggles of Dallas’ life. As is characteristic of Gary Moon, the book shows immense respect for Dallas, even as the telling of the story tenderly highlights the vulnerable areas of Dallas’ life. This book makes for a powerful reading because it becomes apparent that in each of those important learning spaces, Dallas’ character was being shaped like Christ’s.
My wife and I read the book together and couldn’t put it down. In some sections, we read through tears, with deepening gratitude for Dallas Willard's life, his very special family, and his many friends. It immediately makes its way into my handful of favorite books.
This engaging, well-written biography of Dallas Willard is much more than an inspiring account of one of the greatest teachers of our generation; it is a guide and commentary for those us who have been students of Dallas to better understand and appreciate his work in philosophy, spiritual formation, and discipleship. Gary Moon does a magnificent job helping us see where the concepts we have learned were initially conceived and how they shaped Dallas himself in the crucible of his own spiritual formation. Dallas was not one who talked about himself much at all. But we all knew there was a compelling story behind what we learned from him. Now we have…the rest of the story.
I am fairly new to learning about Dallas Willard and this book has made me more intrigued about what he believed. When I saw this book had won an award, I had to have it. And I loved reading about his life. I just kept wishing that Moon would go deeper into Willard's beliefs. For example, what does it mean that he crosses denominations? His "Dallas-isms" also only scratch the surface: "The fires of heaven burn hotter than the fires of hell." "Know does not mean 'to know about him.'" This was a bit frustrating. I loved learning about how Willard balanced his Christian beliefs in a secular environment, USC, and staying much-loved and in demand for speaking all over the world when he never really asked for fame or recognition. I loved learning about his family life, and was amazed that I had lived for years in a nearby neighborhood and never heard of him. I regret that I didn't know about him sooner, and this book did whet my appetite to learn more and read his books. I wasn't sure where to start, however, so signed up for the spiritual formation course, Renovare. Willard's life touched many around the world and at USC, and I am grateful to learn about him in this book.
just finished reading, “Becoming Dallas Willard”. It’s been awhile since I have read a book in 3 days. I’ve already reread parts of it. I am grateful that I can say, “I was there with Dallas 12 of the moments described. At the end of the book there is “A Letter from the Willard Family” in which they wrote, “…Gary Moon (the author) took on the almost impossible task of choosing which aspects of Dallas’ life to highlight and what must, by necessity, be excluded. While we might have chosen different events and brighter tones in telling the story, we are pleased that so much of who Dallas was during this time with us has been captured in this volume….” One personal event for me was participating in the “Spirituality and Ministry” class along with 700 other pastors over 25 years. I have a “moment with Dallas” not included in the book which I would like to share. During the class Dallas shared that he was concerned about the loss of hand written letters because we only use email. What is missing are the hand written words, “Dear (the person’s name). Since that moment in 2010 I often begin email letters and texts, “Dearly loved (he person’s name). Paul writes this in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” I memorized Colossians 3:1-17 because Dallas encouraged us to do this during a Renovare Conference. I am curious about all the stories of Jesus’ life on earth that people who knew him could have shared. “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” John 20:30
I expected this book to be well researched, and it is. I expected this book to be thoughtful and have keen insights, and it does. But what really caught me off guard is the excellence in writing style. The author captures the heart and mind of Dallas Willard. Have you ever read a biography and felt like it was just a series of disconnected photos? Or a bad slide show? This book is a fluid, beautiful, thoughtful film by an artist. Well worth reading and a must-read for any Dallas Willard fan.
Although I have read most of Dallas Willard's books and know people who know Dr. Willard, I never had the privilege of meeting the man—until now. Gary Moon's portrayal of Dr. Willard is nothing short of brilliant. (To be honest, philosophy gives me a big headache, and when I try to wrap my head around it, my head seems like it will implode; however, I could grasp Dr. Moon's clear explanations of Dr. Willard's journey through philosophy.) To know that the material in his books was lived out in everyday life makes the principles he expounded from the writings of the Gospel writers and the apostle Paul hopeful; hopeful in the sense I don't have to wait until heaven to live a life in God's kingdom; hopeful in that Jesus is a living part of the life I've chosen to live in the now/not yet; hopeful in that real people can live the with-God life today. This book is not a how-to live like Dr. Willard book, but a book that points the way to a life lived in joy.