Despite a few odd turns, a refreshingly comprehensive inquiry into the hearts of humanity’s major faiths.

WHOSE HEAVEN IS IT?

A broadly scoped synthesis of spirituality in the modern, multicultural world.

In his complex, wide-ranging multidenominational treatise, Naegeli says mankind might now be on “the evolutionary threshold of a new leap in spiritual consciousness.” His book undertakes a clearheaded examination of the world’s major organized religions, from the great monotheisms of Christianity, Judaism and Islam to Eastern religions such as Taoism and Buddhism. Naegeli lays out the basic tenets of these religions and seeks to find the common strands binding their inner spiritualties, asserting that a “Spiritual Platform” is needed to ground humanity through the trials of modern life. He insists that mankind is in need of “proper moral guidance” because “we are witnessing a moral decline in Western democratic societies”; worryingly, he continues, this moral decline is in part due to the fact that “the basic fabric of common ethical values is not the cornerstone of our economic and political system.” Throughout the book, his knowledge is deep, though he’s stronger on some subjects than others. The book’s representations of science, for instance, are questionable at best, from his claim that humans evolved from chimpanzees to the statement that matter and antimatter combined to create light. He writes that the more we see of the complexity and beauty of life, the more “plausible” it is that there’s a Creator, yet his depictions of the world’s various religions, though pleasingly detailed, can be uneven as well, especially when it comes to Islam, among whose “guiding moral principles” he finds puzzling notions such as “hate against other cultures/religions is prohibited” and “terrifying members of society is not accepted,” without offering scriptural citations. Nevertheless, the larger currents of Naegeli’s analysis compensate amply for such questionable bits, as does his search for spiritual common ground—his Spiritual Platform—for modern societies he sees as having unhinged from shared moral underpinnings.

Despite a few odd turns, a refreshingly comprehensive inquiry into the hearts of humanity’s major faiths.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499088502

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

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An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED

The Book of Genesis as imagined by a veteran voice of underground comics.

R. Crumb’s pass at the opening chapters of the Bible isn’t nearly the act of heresy the comic artist’s reputation might suggest. In fact, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural is fastidiously respectful. Crumb took pains to preserve every word of Genesis—drawing from numerous source texts, but mainly Robert Alter’s translation, The Five Books of Moses (2004)—and he clearly did his homework on the clothing, shelter and landscapes that surrounded Noah, Abraham and Isaac. This dedication to faithful representation makes the book, as Crumb writes in his introduction, a “straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes.” But his efforts are in their own way irreverent, and Crumb feels no particular need to deify even the most divine characters. God Himself is not much taller than Adam and Eve, and instead of omnisciently imparting orders and judgment He stands beside them in Eden, speaking to them directly. Jacob wrestles not with an angel, as is so often depicted in paintings, but with a man who looks not much different from himself. The women are uniformly Crumbian, voluptuous Earth goddesses who are both sexualized and strong-willed. (The endnotes offer a close study of the kinds of power women wielded in Genesis.) The downside of fitting all the text in is that many pages are packed tight with small panels, and too rarely—as with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—does Crumb expand his lens and treat signature events dramatically. Even the Flood is fairly restrained, though the exodus of the animals from the Ark is beautifully detailed. The author’s respect for Genesis is admirable, but it may leave readers wishing he had taken a few more chances with his interpretation, as when he draws the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a provocative half-man/half-lizard. On the whole, though, the book is largely a tribute to Crumb’s immense talents as a draftsman and stubborn adherence to the script.

An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-393-06102-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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THE WEIGHT OF GLORY

The name of C.S. Lewis will no doubt attract many readers to this volume, for he has won a splendid reputation by his brilliant writing. These sermons, however, are so abstruse, so involved and so dull that few of those who pick up the volume will finish it. There is none of the satire of the Screw Tape Letters, none of the practicality of some of his later radio addresses, none of the directness of some of his earlier theological books.

Pub Date: June 15, 1949

ISBN: 0060653205

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1949

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