An elegant and sincere examination of the promise and power of grace.

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BLESSINGS OF HIS GRACE

JOY AND POWER THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD

A debut guide meditates on the role of grace in modern Christian life.

Jesus calls his followers to a special life, giving them a distinctive part in fulfilling God’s purpose, explains Astudillo in his clear, accessible book. That road can often be one of hardship and sacrifice, requiring raw perseverance in the face of trials. According to the author, this is where the concept of grace comes in. Carefully and knowledgeably drawing on Scripture, Astudillo paints a picture of the function grace can play in Christian life, noting its restorative capacities. It’s through grace, writes the author, that Christians experience happiness even in the midst of difficulties: “This special grace not only frees us and fills our lives with joy but it also empowers us.” This compact manual is a call for Astudillo’s fellow Christians to reflect on the nature of God’s grace and the role that it plays in their lives. Throughout, he peppers his readers with questions designed to challenge their complacency about the tremendous reward grace can be. (Each of the book’s chapters ends with a “Pause and Reflect” section comprised of such questions.) “What more can I do to experience God’s grace in all its forms?” readers are asked. “Is there anything I can do to be ready to receive God’s grace?” The author deftly explores dozens of Gospel stories in order to underscore the fact that God’s grace is not automatic or predictable. It can often come when least expected and in surprising forms. Astudillo notes one of the most dramatic instances in the Bible: In the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prays for release from his mission, he isn’t freed—but he is comforted. In plainspoken, often passionate prose, the author warns his readers that grace is not a passive gift: It’s intended to be used for God’s glory, to further the cause of going forth and making disciples of all nations. Astudillo’s fellow Christians should find this fluid guide illuminating on an aspect of their faith they may have been overlooking.

An elegant and sincere examination of the promise and power of grace.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973612-18-6

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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