Christian readers will find this a thought-provoking examination of an age-old question.

The Silence of God


A pastor offers a personal exploration of the mystery of God’s hiddenness.

Russell opens his account by stating its central question directly: “Why is God so cruel? Why is heaven so silent?” And like many theologians and Christian thinkers before him, he characterizes God’s silence as a central problem of faith: “A silent heaven is the greatest mystery of our existence.” Russell brings a 25-year career as a pastor and religious counselor to bear on the question, and he seeks to understand God through his own experiences and the bedrock faith lessons he’s learned over time. He offers stories of his church service, his “burnout” and breakdown in his late 50s, and his slow recovery. He also talks about his charitable work for hospital-outreach programs, where he often saw examples of God’s seeming absence, including little children suffering horribly from burns and various illnesses. His book then broadens its view to look at plagues, natural disasters, and urban violence. When he turns to the underlying question of where God is while such things are happening, he tends to offer obscure phraseology that Christian thinkers have been offering on the subject for millennia, and he predicates his solutions on denying the existence of the problem: “Before one can think about the silence of God, he or she must really believe in the existence of God,” he writes, for example, or “Do I need to know God exists in order to understand his silence? Yes, you do.” Sentiments like these will narrow the appeal of Russell’s book to his fellow practicing Christians, who will agree with him that “Faith is the ability to see what isn’t” and who will nod at his conclusion that God is not, in fact, ever really silent. For this audience, though, his interpretation of Scripture will seem refreshingly direct, as when he reminds them that none of the prophets ever attempted to prove the existence of a caring God: “Enoch sought God by faith, found God by faith, walked with God by faith, escaped death by faith, and was rewarded by faith.”

Christian readers will find this a thought-provoking examination of an age-old question.

Pub Date: April 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5144-8065-6

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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