A well-crafted reflection on the place of religion in the physical world.


A wide-ranging discussion of the natural world from a dedicated but inquisitive theist.

The habits of the giant coconut crab, the workings of world religions, and the ebb and flow of the weather might seem about as disparate a group of assembled elements as possible. But seen through the author’s lens of interconnected ecosystems, the preceding topics and many more become a unified field of sound scholarly exploration, not to mention free-flowing musing. Dutifully recounting the science behind such notions before asking the inevitable question of why we believe in the things we believe in, the author confidently credits a supreme being presiding over the whole shebang. But the God born out of this reality’s Big Bang is not the meddling—some might say malevolent—deity of the Old Testament. According to the author, he can’t be, since “God’s interventions would change natural ecology and play havoc with the Butterfly Effect.” The last phenomena, as sci-fi fans know, postulates that even the flapping of a butterfly’s wings—or the absence of such flapping—has enormous consequences further down the chain of interconnected causality. Thus, the God described here is omnipresent and omnipotent, but he doesn’t intervene or answer prayers: “God does not tinker with anything on Earth.” This view, the author says, leaves the door wide open for science and theism to happily coexist. For instance, evolution isn’t a problem for the theistic writer if Charles Darwin’s theory just happens to be the Almighty’s way of getting things done. Ultimately, however, the lack of a coherent or compelling focus threatens to undermine the earnestness that resides within this constantly leapfrogging treatise. Those operating outside the restrictive lens of religious dogma won’t be inspired or especially challenged, but seen through a more accommodating lens, this God-fearing author’s exhortations could prove notably provocative and productive.

A well-crafted reflection on the place of religion in the physical world.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481254137

Page Count: 222

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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