A compact guide deftly emphasizes the supportive closeness of God in Christian life.


An addiction, recovery, and spiritual renewal manual focuses on Christianity.

“How is it that there is such a huge gap between having religious notions and living a religious life?” asks Determan (Finding Our Way Back, 2018) in his short, dynamic study of the role Christianity can play in the lives of recovering addicts and the everyday faithful. The author points out the prevalence of “privatized spirituality” in an era when increasing percentages of people describe themselves as “none” when polled about their religious affiliations. And he mentions the widespread idea among Christians that God is an august concept located far on the peripheries of their lives instead of right at the “nuts and bolts” level. Determan embraces the traditional Christian concept that Jesus came into the world not to show mortals how to become divine but rather to reveal how to be fully human, how to appreciate “the sacredness of humanity.” Much of the book deals with this spiritual/material dichotomy and the ways it can inadvertently serve as a disconnect for the faithful who need more immediate help in the not-at-all mysterious world around them. Determan stresses to such readers the reliability of a God “who is not distant but rather is standing beside us in our grief, weeping with us…helping us to heal.” The author doesn’t shy away from the rockier side of these daily challenges (one of his most striking metaphors is that of a gladiatorial arena), but he wants to assure his readers that they have greater resources than they might think. “I am convinced that in one way or another we are all called by the mystery and miracle of life,” he writes at one point, seeking to ally a spiritual dimension with a scientific element that increasingly structures modern life. Much of the encouragements in this short book will be familiar to readers of Christian motivational works (Determan cites many of these here). But the author’s clarity of prose and recurrent theme of optimism should still make this a valuable hour’s read for his core audience of fellow believers, particularly those going through rough times.

A compact guide deftly emphasizes the supportive closeness of God in Christian life.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973635-14-7

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2018

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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 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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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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