Kevin Belmonte. D.L. Moody—-A Life: Innovator, Evangelist, World-Changer. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014. See here for Moody Publisher’s page about this book.
Dwight L. Moody was an influential Christian evangelist in the nineteenth century. He started schools, preached, and worked to bring Christian literature to people. Kevin Belmonte tells the story of Moody from Moody’s birth to his death, drawing on primary sources, including the recollections of people who knew Moody.
A lot of the book read like a hagiography, and I was not always interested in certain details about Moody’s life (although Moody probably accomplished more in one lifetime than I would in two!). Moreover, while Belmonte’s prose was good, and he obviously communicated his enthusiasm for his subject, the prose did not always grab me as a reader.
I really started to get into the book, though, when I got to the last third of it. Belmonte was talking about Moody’s character, the type of man Moody reportedly was: humble notwithstanding his fame and renown, affable, a lover of learning, one who admitted his mistakes, and a builder of bridges. I admired Moody when I read the stories about how he positively influenced people who were indifferent towards or even mocked him and his religion. In Belmonte’s narration, Moody was a man who was making a lot of money as a businessman and walked away from that when he saw that God could use him.
My favorite passage in the book was on page 244. Belmonte was talking about how Moody would meet new students of his school when they arrived, and Belmonte speculated that perhaps Moody’s own humble background may have influenced him to do this: “Long years before, when he arrived at seventeen without a penny in Boston, there had been no one to collect him at the train station. He could be the friend to offer a welcome he never received.”
I suppose that the fact that Moody was admired by Presidents and heralded by major newspapers is impressive, but what made Belmonte’s book interesting and edifying was his descriptions of Moody’s character. Belmonte also quoted Moody’s insights about the spiritual life, and that, too, made the book worth reading.
My thanks to Moody Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.