“Friedmann writes lucidly, with a free-flowing style and above all with keen and empathetic discernment as a man who has cut for himself a broad swath of life, has drunk deeply at its richest sources, and overlooks the highest peaks of human aspiration as well as its illusions and pitfalls.”
—Clarence Bauman (1928–1995), Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
“Design for Living addresses the essentials of life itself, communicated on each page by the author’s distinctive and profound voice. Although he proceeds philosophically, Friedmann dares to address the limitations of his own discipline, touching on those rare instances of in-breaking love, the living nature of which transcends human reason.”
—Leonard Gross, Executive Director emeritus, Mennonite Church Historical Committee
“This book could have been called ‘The Educated Heart’ (the title of chapter 1), which Friedmann calls the singular topic of his work. That would gesture more fully at the existential and spiritual impetus of this ‘secular’ work by a philosophical historian, influenced by the Anabaptists, who identified himself as ‘a Jew who sides with Christ.’ Education of the heart is now as ever what it is ‘all about,’ and Friedmann’s work helps show us why. Kudos to Max Kennel for bringing this work into the public domain.
—P. Travis Kroeker, Professor of Religious Studies, McMaster University
“Friedmann tried to avoid direct references to Anabaptist core values because he thought they would be inappropriate for a philosophy course in a secular institution. The result is an argument for those values that is conducted using mostly secular language and drawing many of its illustrations from a range of secular writers and thinkers (including Emerson, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Beethoven). In a couple of key instances, Friedmann does appeal to religion. Only those open to the divine, he says, will appreciate the full savor of his ideas. But in no case that I could discover does he depend upon specifically Christian assumptions. This is a strength of the book. It argues for an approach to ethics that should appeal to any person of faith, as well as to many people without explicit religious belief who recognize the sanctity and dignity of human life.
—Mennonite Life Vol. 72 (2018)”
"Editor Maxwell Kennel has provided us with a new window into Friedmann's thought with the publication of Design for Living, a manuscript that originated as lecture notes from an undergraduate course taught in 1954. This book reflects Friedmann's attempt to articulate a meaningful philosophy of life by translating the values of Anabaptism into a public, secular context. As such, Friedmann builds an argument for a life oriented toward values of regard, concern, service, and love without assuming a prior commitment on the part of his audience."
—Mennonite Quarterly Review 93.3 (October 2019): 569-570.