SEX, MOM, AND GOD

HOW THE BIBLE'S STRANGE TAKE ON SEX LED TO CRAZY POLITICS--AND HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE WOMEN (AND JESUS) ANYWAY

In the third installment of the “God Trilogy,” prolific novelist and nonfiction author Schaeffer (Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), 2009, etc.) tells “the truth” about his mother’s curious impartation of religion and sex.

The author’s mother Edith played as much a spiritual role as his father, the late Evangelist Francis Schaeffer, and continues to do so at 96, though her memory loss and sight deterioration defy them both. The book shines in sections centered on Edith, a “life-embracing free spirit” whose sexual education of her son began with a show-and-tell of her diaphragm to him at age eight while on a family vacation. This candid abandon extended to matters outside of sexuality as well. The author distinctly remembers Edith praising a God that foreknew and condoned the miscarriage of her first male child in favor of subsequently giving birth to Schaeffer. He attributes life growing up with three sisters as vital to his affinity for women in later years, though they usurped too much of his parents’ time and attention back then. As a woman who’d sacrificed a dancing career to become a religious juggernaut, Edith’s fiery personality and sexual extroversion were contradictory to the piousness that defined her, yet she managed to formulate extraordinary interpretations. From advising women to wear sheer, black lingerie to keep their husbands’ interest to confessing Francis’ sexual demands on her—all were justified with biblical significance. A consummate memoirist, Schaeffer fills the narrative with interesting anecdotes about his sex life, like a nervous first-time encounter with a French woman and the ice-girl he fashioned (and attempted to mate with) while growing up in the Swiss mission his parents founded. The author’s heated rejection of modern Evangelicalism and discussions of abortion, Reconstructionist movements and even Sarah Palin rob the memoir of the loving glow cast by Edith’s legacy, but the sage conversation on a New York–bound bus with a distraught Asian girl is warmly resonant and a befitting conclusion to an occasionally disjointed book of ruminations, memories and frustrated opinion. Sweet and savory familial adoration.

 

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-306-81928-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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 author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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