Though at times dense and hard to follow, still a useful reference to counter Christian claims that the Bible is a divinely...

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A SKEPTIC'S GOD

A scholarly look at the Bible and its value as a moral guide.      

This in-depth work begins by chronicling the history of how the Old and New Testaments were written. Through well-researched facts from other biblical scholars, Garcia supports his assertion that there is no evidence for most of the stories in the Bible; rather, they are legends invented by scribes to create a common cultural heritage for the Judeans and Israelites. The time gap between when events actually occurred and when they were recorded seriously undermines the credibility of its “prophesies,” which were written well after the fact. Garcia goes on to argue that Jesus was probably only one of many insurgents whom the Romans crucified. Garcia skewers the morality shown in the Bible; its directives are more concerned with how to worship rather than how to behave towards one another. He gives many examples from the Bible of God acting in an immoral way, deceiving and murdering, as well as the obvious immorality of the Bible’s acceptance of slavery, war, and rape. He addresses the existence of God, and not by falling into the common assumption that if the Bible is fictitious, then there must be no God. He asserts that our universe, and life itself, is so complex that it is statistically impossible that it arose out of pure chance. Here, his writing can get rather dense with scientific jargon. However, though he seems to believe in the existence of a creator, a “biochemist of omniscient intelligence,” in the end, he says, it doesn’t matter if God exists or not. His (Garcia uses the masculine pronoun exclusively when writing about God) existence isn’t essential to morality. Therefore, the author argues, we must create a morality based not on religion, but on human dignity. Garcia’s only real weakness is his habit of belaboring the point. In the end, though, the book offers a scathing criticism of religion (Christianity in particular) backed up with plenty of research.

Though at times dense and hard to follow, still a useful reference to counter Christian claims that the Bible is a divinely inspired historical record.

Pub Date: March 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1452876139

Page Count: 366

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2012

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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