A profound, moving treatise on finding God in gardening.

SOIL AND SACRAMENT

FOOD, FAITH AND GROWING HEAVEN ON EARTH

A soul-searching memoir and travelogue about finding God in the food produced by community agriculture.

Bahnson (co-author: Making Peace with the Land: God's Call to Reconcile with Creation, 2012) was the founder and director of Anathoth, a rich, verdant acre of land owned by his church and used to grow food for its North Carolina community. After several years there, the author was exhausted from defending the project to church members who failed to understand that “Anathoth was not just a hunger relief ministry. It was a whole new way to be a church.” So the author, his wife and their children left the farm for their own piece of land; but once there, Bahnson still felt something was missing from his life. “What does it mean to follow God?” he asked. “How should I live my life? And what does all this have to do with the soil, the literal ground of my existence?” To answer these questions, Bahnson immersed himself in the connections between Judeo-Christian faiths and the burgeoning food movement, while also reflecting upon his life in God. Along the way, he visited a Trappist abbey and Pentecostal organic farmers and celebrated Sukkot on a Jewish farm. Whether he is describing making compost (“I became a priest dispensing the elements to a microbial congregation”) or a “devious, childlike” nonagenarian who doled out “the worst titty-twister [he’d] had since fourth grade,” Bahnson’s lively prose is spiritual without ever being preachy or heavy-handed, and the overall effect is akin to reading a Wendell Berry essay, if Berry also had a sense of humor. Bahnson’s story and its message is constantly, deeply thought-provoking, claiming that working the land with others “reveals the joyful messiness of human life where we find others who need us, and whom we need in return. How we hunger is who we are.”

A profound, moving treatise on finding God in gardening.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6330-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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