An uplifting reassurance that sound Christian faith can be patiently molded.

MIRACLES FROM THE FINGERTIPS OF GOD

THE POTTER

An examination of Christianity that features a pottery theme.

In this slim nonfiction work, Romero takes the millennia-old analogy comparing Christianity with pottery and expands on it through personal and faith-based avenues. The analogy extends all the way back to the book of Jeremiah. Throughout his own work, the author returns regularly to the concept of believers shaping and being shaped as their faith grows and develops. This idea feeds naturally into the comparison of God to a potter: an artist who has firmly in mind the lovely shape of a piece of work even though the finished product isn’t even remotely guessable from the raw materials. Romero naturally links this to the process of faith and salvation. “Only by faith and through the blood of Jesus can we grow into our full potential, into salvation,” he writes. “He builds His purpose into us to contain and demonstrate His image and talented glory.” In the course of his volume, the author shares black-and-white photographs of his own pottery in order to illustrate the various applications of his analogy: the raw clay, the work in progress, the broken piece that’s waiting to be lovingly restored. Along the way, the technical details of pottery are woven seamlessly with Romero’s observations about the nature of the Christian faith. “As the potter’s hands cannot work with the clay without water,” he writes at one point, “in the same manner, God cannot work on us directly without Jesus, the bearer of His grace and mercy.” The author wisely keeps his book’s page count low and manageable—this analogy can only be stretched so far, after all—and although his own personal explications of Christian salvation are standard fare, they’re very effectively enlivened by the metaphor structure he’s chosen. His Christian readers will find this latest elaboration on Jeremiah’s pottery metaphor calming and thought-provoking whether or not they’ve ever seen a potter’s wheel.

An uplifting reassurance that sound Christian faith can be patiently molded.

Pub Date: April 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-973687-58-0

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2020

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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