A sincere, well-written study of why youth leave religion and how to lure them back.


Heaven's Gold


An accessible, relatable guide for bringing young adults back into the church.

With today’s youth being pulled toward autonomy and what some might say sinful pleasures, do age-old traditions and religious ideals have much appeal? McMurtry tackles this dilemma in his well-thought-out, innovative study that looks into the question of why young adults tend to escape and ultimately ignore the call of the church; he offers solutions to end the crisis, too. He begins his argument with the theory that the Bible isn’t a litany of rules and burdensome edicts but a treasure map guiding its reader to a bounty of “spiritual gold.” Recognizing that today’s youth respond well to acquisition and wealth, McMurtry comments that Christianity asks its believers for much investing, although the religion, he says, promises such great rewards that there’s no question of the investment’s value. Overall, McMurtry’s view of religion differs greatly from the fire and brimstone generally associated with the pulpit. Instead, he draws parallels to movies such as National Treasure, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Wizard of Oz to explain God’s presence in the world, emphasizing God’s love for humanity and desire to be close to people. In addition to his understanding of young adults’ drive for monetary gain and general acceptance, McMurtry also recognizes today’s trend toward physical fitness. He goes so far as to present the church as a “Spiritual Fitness Center” in hopes that young people will better understand how the church can shape them on the inside. Written with openness and insight, this guide outlines issues that exist in any religious group. Religious leaders will benefit from the helpful advice in this user-friendly guide, and lapsed religious youth will appreciate the nonjudgmental tone. The clarity of prose and engaging, conversational style suits his book’s purpose beautifully and enlightens McMurtry’s clear, persuasive arguments.

A sincere, well-written study of why youth leave religion and how to lure them back.

Pub Date: March 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1449787271

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

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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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