A CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE

A CATHOLIC DOCTOR SPEAKS OUT FOR REFORM

Hotheaded, ill-mannered attack against the Catholic Church, by a disaffected doctor. Barber (director of obstetrics and gynecology at Lenox Hill Hospital in N.Y.C.) grew up a faithful Catholic. His rebellion against the Church hierarchy came when the archdiocese of New York blocked the hiring, at a Catholic-affiliated hospital, of a doctor with controversial views on abortion. As time passed, Barber's alienation ripened, culminating in this bitter manifesto. When dealing with subjects within his professional competence, such as abortion, contraception, and other quasi-medical issues, Barber's views carry weight. More often, however, he wanders far afield and invariably takes the low road, offering little beyond anger and contempt. Unlike such dissenters as Hans KÅng or Charles Curran, who present a serious critique of Catholic doctrine with a firm grasp of the theology involved, Barber revels in crude generalizations (``The Catholic Church has always ruled by fear''), skewed history (the Nicene Creed asserts that ``Jesus came down from heaven for men, not for women''), ad hominem arguments (the Pope travels to soak in ``the cheers of foreign idolaters''), and name-calling (Church doctrine is ``pathological'') that sound strikingly like anti-Catholic bigotry from centuries past. The author aims his buckshot at every imaginable Church position, including papal infallibility, priestly celibacy, divorce, euthanasia, liberation theology, separation of church and state, and the role of women. His solution to all this perceived heinousness? He intends to ``bring the Vatican to its knees'' through economic boycott, forcing a Third Vatican Council that will institute a papacy akin to the US presidency, with direct election of bishops by the laity, and of the pope by bishops (Barber is devoting part of his royalties to a ``World Committee for Vatican Three''). Not likely to be favorite bedtime reading for John Paul II—or for anyone who believes in mature debate.

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 1-55972-162-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more