An unconventional, thought-provoking organizational scheme for pondering Christianity via a fundamentalist lens.



An approach to scriptural devotions using acronyms.

Oliver’s nonfiction debut features a unique, inviting approach to thinking about the Christian life. He arranges acronyms in alphabetical order (with many letters repeated), and after each one is given, Oliver expounds at varying lengths on their meanings and his thinking behind creating them. Entries range in length from brief, like “ALL” (Agape: Lingering Love), to middle length (“GOSPEL”: God’s only Son Provides Eternal Life) to slightly longer and more involved (“IMMANUEL”: Immaculate, Marvelous Messiah’s Atonement Necessary, Uniting Elohim’s Love). Some of the repetition in letters and acronyms is clearly intended to underscore thematic significance—such as “JESUS” (Justifying Eternal Salvation unto Sinners). In a short Foreword, Oliver claims divine inspiration for his conception of these acronyms, and throughout the text, he strikes an evangelical tone that many Christian readers will find bracing, for instance, “there are so many ways we can sin and not be aware of it.” In the text sections explaining his acronyms, Oliver sketches a theodicy of fundamentalist basics. “We must let God be true and every person a liar to be anchored believers, immovable and determined eternally to see the victory God has for us as we overcome the world,” he writes. Oliver doesn’t shy away from fire-and-brimstone warnings. He touches repeatedly on the fact that finding Jesus is the only path to avoiding the eternal torment of damnation (you don’t just die and that’s that, he writes—you suffer forever). Jesus, he writes, is the answer to everything in life, the standing offer of God to reconcile with the faithful. Some of Oliver’s concepts will strike many as just too absolutist; he writes that “all the problems we experience in life are a result of evil in this world” (bad phone reception? Car trouble? Liver cancer?). But Oliver is good at his central conceit: some of these acronyms are bound to stick in readers’ minds after they’ve put the book down.

An unconventional, thought-provoking organizational scheme for pondering Christianity via a fundamentalist lens.

Pub Date: April 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-7765-9

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: July 7, 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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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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