Rev. Daniel Fusco didn’t anticipate that his book “Crazy Happy” would be released a year into a pandemic and amidst political upheaval, but he sees God’s handiwork in the timing.
He hopes the book examining Jesus’ teachings about happiness helps people during this difficult time — even if they don’t consider themselves Christian.
“Jesus is one of the most famous teachers, historically, no matter what you believe about who he may or may not have been,” Fusco said.
The pastor of Crossroads Church in Vancouver, Fusco is a former professional musician who grew up in New Jersey. Rev. Bill Ritchie, who founded Crossroads in 1975, passed the reins to Fusco in 2012. Fusco lives near Battle Ground with his wife, Lynn, and three children: Obadiah, 16; Maranatha, 13; and Annabelle, 7.
Before the pandemic, some 3,000 worshippers would gather at Crossroads’ campus off Northeast 78th Street, with three times that many participating virtually, Fusco said. Because Crossroads already offered a robust digital program, providing online services during the COVID-19 pandemic was an easy transition, he said.
Fusco’s digital reach includes his daily #2MinuteMessages on Facebook, “Jesus is Real Radio” broadcast, and the TV show “Real with Daniel Fusco” aired weekly on the Hillsong Channel.
He wrote several books before “Crazy Happy: Nine Surprising Ways to Lead the Truly Beautiful Life” (WaterBrook, $11.99). This one includes a forward by Rev. Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has sold 35 million copies.
Fusco wrapped up writing “Crazy Happy” in 2019, well before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, but its release this month comes just as people are hitting the so-called pandemic wall.
“People ask me all the time, I mean all the time, ‘Doesn’t God want me to be happy?,’ ” Fusco told The Columbian. “I always say ‘yes.’ ”
He just adds a caveat: “God’s plan for our happiness is found in crazy places, surprising places.”
Fusco structures the book around the Beatitudes, one of the most famous parts of one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes list nine kinds of people who are blessed.
“Don’t miss that Jesus said we are blessed (happy, lucky) in some crazy situations,” Fusco writes. “Remember the list? Poor in spirit, mourning, persecutions, and the like. That’s why I call this kind of happiness ‘crazy happy.’ Jesus is giving us the gift of happiness in the most unexpected ways and places.”
In addition to drawing on biblical passages, Fusco incorporates stories from his life.
“I want to talk about what Jesus says about happiness, but I also want to put in on street level,” Fusco said.
He’s heard from readers that they enjoy his anecdotes, as well as the numerous footnotes, which include remarks to his kids. (“I put my vain sense of humor in the footnotes,” he said.)
Fusco emphasizes that it’s not bad to want to be happy.
“There’s a reason why McDonald’s never sold a Sad Meal,” he said. “Our definition that we have adopted culturally is that happiness is defined as a happening. If I get the job, get into the relationship, when the kids grow up — then I’ll really be able to be happy.”
Fusco called it the “hamster wheel of happiness seeking,” adding that he’s not immune. “I’m on this journey too.”