A forthright call for Christians to pursue a more private and personal relationship with God.

The Hidden Evils of the Biligramite Cult

Demaree’s nonfiction debut offers an exposé of what he sees as the personality cult surrounding American preacher Billy Graham.

The crux of this book’s opening segment is a full-throated condemnation of the message and ministry of a revered figure in American religious circles: the hugely popular televangelist Graham. The author attacks Graham’s familiar exhortation to go to church in order to “get right with God” on multiple grounds, primarily contending that “Telling others to go to church and seek a group of people is the opposite of telling them to go to God and seek Him.” He scornfully refers to Graham’s congregants as “biligramites,” programmed to fill up “pretentious” megachurches and pay pastors handsomely for the privilege. He’s aware of the generational reach of Graham’s long tenure, pointing out that “biligramite children are nurtured and polished in hypocrisy.” Demaree himself is a proponent of a “God within” philosophy that dispenses with most public and communal aspects of Christian faith, in favor of private, inner contemplation: “When we are alone with God,” he writes, “we can easily pray deeply and sincerely,” whereas churchgoing Christians tend to “trust in their fortresses to save them.” The author lays out the keys to “spiritual joy” in the book’s middle section, telling his readers that it represents the “supreme value” in the Bible. Overall, Demaree’s book is as unexpected as it is fascinating. The narrative drive of its clearheaded spiritual advice, however, is muddled considerably by the book’s final segment, which purports to give “scientific certainties” for the existence of the Christian God. Instead, it falls back on old claims that God is the author of all morality and that all concepts of “right” and “wrong” ultimately derive from him. Such notions may have non-Christians, and particularly atheists, rolling their eyes, but it’s unlikely that they’re the book’s target audience.

A forthright call for Christians to pursue a more private and personal relationship with God.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5194-3813-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Fellowship Books

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2016

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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 MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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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