One of the country's preeminent theologians offers a probing examination of the dynamics of religious fundamentalism. Cox (Religion/Harvard; Religion in the Secular City, 1984, etc), who shot to prominence in the 1960s by speaking of a coming ``postreligious'' age, now looks back at why the predictions he made then were inaccurate. Far from becoming an artifact, religion is reasserting itself in American public life and discourse. Much of this religious revival has centered on conservative Christianity (often termed ``fundamentalism'') in general and Pentecostalism in particular. Pentecostalism, an outgrowth of the holiness movement within Methodism, stresses the fruits of the Holy Spirit given to Jesus' disciples at Pentecost and related in the biblical book of Acts. It also looks forward to the imminent return of Christ to earth, ushering in the millennium. Cox contrasts the World Parliament of Religions, a universalist gathering of the faiths of the world in 1893, with a Pentecostal revival held in 1906 at an abandoned church on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The first event was attended predominantly by upper-class whites, and it promised that humanity could build a heavenly kingdom on earth. The Los Angeles event, which raged for months, was attended largely by African American manual laborers. It promised that if people prayed hard enough and long enough God would send a new Pentecost upon them. From Azusa Street, the new movement spread rapidly. Today it is a vital force in American and world Christianity; one in four Christians is a Pentecostal. Recently, it has made inroads in largely Catholic Latin America and among white middle- and upper- middle-class Americans. It stresses speaking in tongues, dreams, visions, and faith healing. While Pentecostalism is often scoffed at by more mainline Christians, Cox treats it with utter seriousness. With debates about the ``religious right'' raging, this timely book sheds light on an important but often misunderstood religious movement.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-201-62656-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998



This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

Close Quickview