A faith memoir with a simple but endearing Everyman tenor.

HELP ME HELP YOU

One Christian’s guidebook to a stronger, more personal religious faith.

“I have had many wrestling matches with all those forms of bondage,” writes Petree in his nonfiction debut. “I chose to stay under their yoke for a long time before ultimately learning to choose Jesus and be set free,” referring to all the worldly forces like worry or envy that Petree sees as standing between Christians and purity of faith. He adds: “I hope I’m able to help you make the same wise choice.” This is the narrative ethos of the entire book; the author reflects on the challenges he’s encountered to make the walk easier for others. In a series of fast-paced chapters, Petree draws not only on his own life story and faith encounters but also on a pleasingly wide array of other voices, including spiritual leaders like Billy Graham (“One of the best ways to get rid of discouragement is to remember that Christ is coming again”). He also reflects on less conventional sources of religious inspiration, from 15-year-old high school athlete Tyler Trent, who stirred many with his professions of faith before dying of bone cancer, to an unidentified stranger Petree met on a bus while on a high school trip to Mexico years ago. On the whole, his faith-observations manage to steer clear of both the treacle of typical Christian-inspiration titles and also the reflexive science-denial of American fundamentalism. He stresses that these Christians already have all the food they need for spiritual nourishment. “The good news is that, in terms of your soul food, your sustenance is covered simply by believing in Jesus,” he writes. “The bible [sic] should always be your main course.” Through these and other invitingly simple metaphors, Petree makes an intuitive case for a revitalized faith, and although it has the weaknesses of all intuitive cases, mainly a fondness for clichés and unsubtle concepts, the book’s direct and relatable tone wins out in the end.

A faith memoir with a simple but endearing Everyman tenor.

Pub Date: March 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9736-8632-3

Page Count: 186

Publisher: WestBowPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2020

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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