A detailed, offbeat account of a spiritual leader’s life-changing recommendations.




A debut guide offers tips on surviving in the modern world.

The Introduction of this extensive tome informs readers that “these teachings are written by Steve,” the spiritual leader of the Church of Terra Sanctuaria. It explains that what follows is meant to provide “instructions on how to enlighten your mind and help improve your daily experience of life.” That encompasses everything from eating a vegan diet to knowing how your car works to exercising regularly. There are warnings about the dangers of alcohol (“Alcohol abuse is an extremely large problem for Society”), a stern command to not purchase used goods (as they “reek of external energy”), and a list of movies to watch with eccentric encapsulations (Pulp Fiction is described as a “BDSM music video featuring Uma Karuna Thurman”). Thornier topics include an exploration of the violent nature of Islam, the insistence that both men and women stop all types of shaving, and the claim that homosexuals can be detected by “an enlightened reading of their aura.” The book concludes with an autobiography of Steve that describes personal highs, lows, and a quest for a nice place to live. To say a lot of ground is covered in the over 700 pages would be a gross understatement. If any one lesson can be extracted, though, it would be the importance of awareness. Whether on the subject of meditation, the sources of clothes, or the upbeat dictum to “Enjoy your life, don’t waste it!,” the work regularly asserts that this attribute is something extremely useful to have in one’s life. It is a theme that even readers who might be perturbed by certain viewpoints can glean from a cursory reading. As if this valuable concept were not enough, Steve himself emerges as a subject of great interest. Who is this man who quotes Buffy the Vampire Slayer and advocates withdrawing from society? The autobiographical portion in an appendix is relatively short compared to the rest of the book, but it changes completely the angle with which the reader approaches the contents. It sheds intriguing light not just on one man’s semi-controversial advice, but on where all such counsel might have originated.

A detailed, offbeat account of a spiritual leader’s life-changing recommendations.    

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5429-7262-8

Page Count: 816

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2017

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


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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