A systematic breakdown of apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible.

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THE MESSIAH'S IMMINENT RETURN

A concise, comprehensive study of the Christian doctrine of the Second Coming.

Baker (In Search of Truth, 2017) offers her readers a detailed overview of New Testament and Old Testament writings about the End Times and the Advent. She grounds the first part of her study with an examination of the various covenants made between God and others in the Hebrew Bible (including Abraham, Noah, Moses, among others) and the nature of concepts that have arisen from those covenants. Her clarifications of covenant theology and dispensation theologies, for example, are uniformly clear and well-done. She lays out key Old Testament sections, particularly the prophecies in the Book of Daniel, in an accessible manner, and how they relate to the End Times. She follows this thread through the New Testament and the writings of the early Church Fathers; along the way, she not only discusses relevant quotations in approachable terms, she also ends chapters with discussion and study questions to make the material more applicable to readers’ lives. The book also doesn’t avoid central problems with Christian eschatology, such as the fact that many Christians have been wrong about the imminence of the Messiah’s return throughout history. Jesus’ statements in the Gospels are often interpreted to mean that he thought that the Kingdom of Heaven would manifest itself in the world rather quickly. As Baker notes, “The apostles believed in Jesus’s imminent return in their lifetime,” and Christian writers and others have predicted specific dates for the End Times ever since—always erroneously, obviously. Baker circumvents the obvious conclusion—that the End Times aren’t going to happen, full stop—with a faith-oriented conception of Christians as being perpetually watchful and ready, as they were warned that the final days would come as “a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Overall, her work makes for some bracing reading.

A systematic breakdown of apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-973605-95-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 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 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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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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