A highly detailed, passionately persuasive account of the ways Christians can use Scripture to uncover their inner...

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A JOURNEY TOWARD PERFECTION: DENY YOURSELF, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME

THE BEATITUDES AS A ROAD MAP FOR OUR JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE

An in-depth examination of the Christian life of faith, centering on the Beatitudes.

Kamenos chooses to start her passionate, scripturally literate book with an error: “The life of the man called Jesus of Nazareth is well documented not only by Biblical sources, but also by Jewish and Roman historians and scholars.” Fortunately for her readers, she quickly shifts from making fanciful historical claims to delving deeply into the philosophical tenets of Christianity, which for her boil down to a journey toward God, a voyage of perfectibility through the example of God’s flesh-and-blood link with the human world, Jesus Christ. “To Christians, Jesus is the light to which we are all drawn,” Kamenos writes with simple clarity. “He is the light that gives us hope.” For Kamenos, the blueprint of that hope, the guidelines for coming closer to God, are embodied in the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of St. Matthew, familiar even to non-Christians: “Blessed are they who mourn,” “Blessed are the meek,” and so on. “Only through Christ can we receive the gift of God’s mercy,” Kamenos writes, and she ably takes each of Christ’s utterances in the Sermon on the Mount in turn, sifting through the sentiments and buttressing her observations with wide-ranging biblical quotations. The book wanders freely far afield of the Beatitudes, examining much of Christian belief, all done in the simple faith that “Christ is God’s message to us,” a living paradigm of the worthwhile Christian life. Kamenos’ central focus—that God is more intimately revealed to humans the more they live the life of Christ—is obviously suited to an audience of her fellow practicing Christians; it’s these readers who are being reminded by the author, throughout this otherwise somewhat diffuse narrative, that they are closer to their God than the distraction-filled world can often have them think.

A highly detailed, passionately persuasive account of the ways Christians can use Scripture to uncover their inner connection to God.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4835-8473-7

Page Count: 346

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2017

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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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