An appealing and inventive educational resource for young Christians.

LORD OF LEGENDS

JESUS' REDEMPTION QUEST

A reconsideration of the heroism of Jesus’ life and the ways his story has shaped other accounts of heroism both ancient and modern.

According to Eichinger, Jesus is the ultimate protagonist; against formidable odds, he is called to save the entire world from destruction. His enemies are great—he’s not only opposed by the “triple threat of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees,” but also by Satan’s trials of temptation. And his superpower is unbeatable because he “possesses the exclusive ability to conquer death eternally.” And like many other superheroes, Jesus, who is both human and divine, boasts something of an alter ego, or “altar ego,” a corny joke charmingly delivered by Eichinger, who is primarily targeting a young audience bored by church and religion generally. The author thoroughly recasts Jesus as “the most courageous protagonist the world ever knew” and furnishes a vivid retelling of the biblical story of Jesus’ dramatic ministry, comparing it to stories of heroic triumph in ancient literature like Homer’s Iliad and contemporary tales in popular culture that feature Spiderman, Batman, and Luke Skywalker. “The seeds of Christ’s true narrative are evident in so much of our celebrated heroic literature, from ages past to modern triumphs. The underlying difference is that the story of Jesus actually happened.” The author is a Christian pastor and writes with the focused zeal of one. The result is a powerful representation of the story of Jesus’ life, though one that has the didactic tenor of a sermon. Also, in Eichinger’s enthusiasm, he sometimes makes a case that reaches beyond the evidence he adduces. It’s hardly obvious, and certainly not on the basis of the argument he furnishes, that the tale of Jesus is completely independent of the Greco-Roman mythology that precedes his life. However, this is still a buoyantly cheerful argument that Jesus is the original superhero.

An appealing and inventive educational resource for young Christians.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7586-6990-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Concordia Publishing House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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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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