A brisk set of optimistic, religious life-lessons.



An anecdotal, highly allusive series of Christian-oriented observations on life.

“Christianity insists that grace comes through the commonplace,” writes Orr (The Instruction of Youth in the Christian Life, 2018, etc.) in his latest book, stressing that “we become human in the network of everyday.” In a series of interconnected meditations on that network, he explores how Christianity can provide invaluable direction for solving problems, whether they’re man-made or not: “People do get lost in life,” he writes, “lost sometimes because they are simply in harm’s way, in the march of human evil, or the catastrophes of nature.” Specifically, Orr stresses how the Christian faith can provide an all-embracing support system for its believers. He criticizes the modern view of God as “a great celestial nag,” insisting instead that “Christianity is not a religion of control, but a religion of redemption” and that God’s love isn’t manipulative (“He treasures our freedom”). However, some of the observations here will strike readers as a bit confusing, as when the book asserts that the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi—a Hindu who was murdered by a Hindu—was a rejection of the Christian God’s grace. But the principal charm of this book lies in the wonderfully broad range of its references; in a series of smoothly presented stories and anecdotes, the author alludes to classic films as well as the writings of Leo Rosten, Arnold Bennett, Mark Twain, Stewart Alsop, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Paul Tillich, Loren Eiseley, and the lyrics of the Beatles. Orr effectively marshals his quoted sources to underscore his central, uplifting point that “There is something more to your life. Something, which lies deep inside, which hungers and thirsts for something permanent.” In quick-paced prose, he sympathetically attempts to sketch out what that “something more” could be for his Christian readers.

A brisk set of optimistic, religious life-lessons.

Pub Date: July 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973632-72-6

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 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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