In a world of selfies and social media, where each of us reach for “fifteen minutes of fame,” as Andy Warhol put it, is it good or bad to have ambition? Without ambition how is it possible to do anything well? But ambition can feed on itself, take over, become insatiable. A goal, duly accomplished, often leads to greater plans. Success with those plans leads to even grander possibilities, and soon blatant ambition is running the whole show.
Nine members of the Chrysostom Society of Writers asked themselves what role ambition has played in their lives. The volume, AMBITION, is the result: a collection of essays in which, with striking honesty, they muse on their own motivations and experiences of ambition. The book contains a fascinating spectrum of responses and cautions, ranging from Diane Glancy’s praise of ambition as a gift, to Eugene Peterson’s narrative about how busyness can become spiritually crippling. Along the way Dain Trafton ponders his family’s respect for ambition, on the one hand, and on the other, biblical condemnations of overweening pride. Erin McGraw argues that the extent to which ambition is good or bad depends upon the goal—the what for which one is ambitious. Jeanne Murray Walker wrestles with the ambivalences that accompany the gender-specific challenges of a woman with ambitions, while Gina Ochsner offers an entertaining appraisal of ambition’s insatiability. Luci Shaw recounts her ambivalence regarding her literary acknowledgment. And Emily Griffin reflects on her own wrestling with the lure of “Fame”. Finally, Bret Lott urges that wherever we are –having achieved our ambitions or still struggling with them, they should take a back seat to gratitude.
The purpose of AMBITION is to inspire honest self-searching. It will encourage readers to probe their own identities and purposes, helping them to find a balance between hubris and self-abnegation. What is the legitimate role of ambition in a sane and ethical person’s life? Does gender affect ambition? What does it mean to be justifiably ambitious for our children? How can we set and maintain limits for ambition in our own lives? These questions may be more urgent now than they have ever been. The fresh and original thinking of well-known and widely-published authors will challenge the readers’ pre-conceptions, leaving them to ponder their own deeper reasons for doing what they do.
From October 15 to January 15 Ambition will be available exclusively from Image journal so that sales from that period will benefit the work of The Chrysostom Society as it supports excellence in writing by people of faith.