(Reprinted with permission from Booklist, written by Ray Olson.)
The Cathedral Within: Transforming Your Life by Giving Something Back is not about religious consolation or giving. It is about helping—and finding that more rewarding than business or politics. But that still makes it sound too much like a self-help tome. It is an explanation of why helping is important and how sound helping organizations are succeeding these days, when government helping programs are scaling back and dying out.
The author, Bill Shore, directs Share Our Strength, an organization that helps organizations concerned with alleviating hunger and poverty, especially for children. Indeed, trotting out some fine illustrative stories about what children need from his own fatherly experience, Shore posits children’s health and welfare as the quintessential reasons for helping work. As for the success stories in helping work today, Shore profiles seven. The most striking commonality among them is entrepreneurial spirit: if these nonprofit agencies don’t already have for-profit subsidiaries, they are seriously considering them. For they see, as Shore emphasizes, that charity and redistribution of wealth (taxes for government programs) must be supplemented by “creating new wealth” through producing and selling goods and services. So young or dissatisfied businesspersons looking for meaningful work should consider helping work, Shore suggests, engaging in it as if it were the work of building a cathedral—seemingly endless but endlessly rewarding: think of it as a cathedral within.