More provocative than exacting, this re-evaluation of religious dogma will appeal to anyone who wants an intellectually...

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THE UNHOLY TRINITY

GOD, THE CHURCH & THE HOLY BIBLE

Allsop’s theological treatise radically re-examines the Bible as a source of revelation and moral instruction, while reassessing the relationship it prescribes between God and man.

Writing in response to his crisis of faith, Allsop scours the Bible for a universally applicable doctrine and comes up empty. Instead, he finds a pastiche of apocryphal stories, irresolvable contradictions and some genuinely edifying moral lessons that only make sense when considered in their context. He adumbrates an interpretive approach that views biblical writing as the work of fallible human beings rather than the divinely inspired word of God. This leads to fundamental reconsiderations of basic church teachings like the divinity and resurrection of Christ, the intelligibility of the Apostles’ Creed, the nature of petitionary prayer and the promise of personal immortality. The author’s view that God refrains from directly intervening in human affairs functions as the crux of his attempt to wrestle biblical principles from their institutional misinterpretations. Allsop’s writing is admirably lucid, even breezy, for such a weighty topic. However, his tone sometimes becomes overly strident, frequently proclaiming too confidently what is “obvious to any reasonably careful reader.” Also, he has a tendency to present arguments as “personal reflections” rather than occasions for scholarly exegesis. Given that the nature of his topic depends on close textual analysis, the author should more frequently and rigorously engage the massive body of scholarship that presents alternatives to his often idiosyncratic readings. Finally, episodic excursions into political commentary about topics such as terrorism and environmental disaster are more distracting than edifying, not to mention dyspeptic—he refers to the “unfolding story of the human race” as a “black comedy.” Still, the author makes a moving argument for taking the Bible seriously, since it expresses “moral principles that resonate with our deepest sense of what is right and promises that meet our deepest longings.”

More provocative than exacting, this re-evaluation of religious dogma will appeal to anyone who wants an intellectually light, accessible introduction to scripture-based skepticism.

Pub Date: June 30, 2006

ISBN: 978-1412029247

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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