A detailed, didactic guide to Scripture for daily study and devotion, sidestepping sanctimony in favor of thoughtful tips...

Biblical Solutions for Daily Living

DEVELOPING A VITAL AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Approaching religion with an academic sensibility, this autobiographical guide advocates the Bible as a text for intensive study, one to be regularly revisited by the faithful.

With a background in traditional Western philosophy, You develops her spiritual guide as a supplement to the postdoctoral academics that left her hungry for true wisdom. She builds the book by establishing principles that progress from macro concepts lifted from specific passages of the Bible to everyday manifestations of faith, such as her explanation of the Holy Spirit as it reveals itself in people’s free will to be “born again” as a Christian and even in some believers’ abilities to speak in tongues. You demonstrates the breadth of her biblical knowledge by referencing numerous, often lesser-known stories from the Bible, including Asa as proof that God protects loyal followers and Abigail to show the benefits of trusting God completely. Chapters often begin with an anecdote from You’s spiritual journey—for instance, a harrowing evening when her car was shot by a crossbow on a dark back road in New Jersey—that segues into a Christian tenet; in this case, relying on spiritual strength in the face of the devil. Though her chapter on the devil and confronting evil comes off as dogma, You generally elucidates the significance of “what a person chooses to believe” over the mere fact of whether a person has faith. For the most part, her emphasis on positive belief reconciles born-again Christianity with what can be seen as the retributive aspects of organized religion. Each chapter ends with enumerated points for daily practice, with related Scripture cataloged in book-ending indexes. You’s friendly tone evokes small-group study, more personable than a pastor preaching from the pulpit. With an erudite approach to religion, You encourages regular, in-depth study of the Bible, keeping with her professorial perspective on spirituality.

A detailed, didactic guide to Scripture for daily study and devotion, sidestepping sanctimony in favor of thoughtful tips and reader-friendly resources.

Pub Date: June 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490303697

Page Count: 220

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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