Poelman’s weighty inquiry into the biblical origins of evil is at times hard to follow but is notable for its hopeful vision...

THE ORIGIN & DEMISE OF SATAN

OR THE BEGINNING & END OF SATAN, DEVIL, SERPENT, DRAGON OR EVIL

An exploration of Christian attitudes toward evil, complete with hopeful predictions for the world.

  Over the course of 30 chapters—with titles like “Evil: A Choice” and “Why Evil is Called Satan”—Poelman makes the provocative case that what the Bible says about evil has been misinterpreted by everyone from laity to Martin Luther. Through his close reading of several different translations, and with copious scriptural citations to support his arguments, Poelman purports to demonstrate the largely symbolic role of the biblical Satan and makes a case that as individuals accept greater responsibility for evil actions, the earth advances toward a “comforting, long-term restoration of humanity.” Unfortunately, 30 chapters is far more than these arguments need, and Poelman frequently finds himself deep in the weeds on esoteric issues, such as when he quotes eight different selections of scripture in a row to make a point about the form of Jesus’ holy being. The lack of a clearly stated thesis and the absence of summaries of Poelman’s arguments contribute to a sense that the theological tangents are more rambling than vital. For example, Poelman builds up to a claim that the interconnectedness of our modern world is a sign that the Kingdom of God appears on Earth several times, seemingly as if he’s lost track of the fact that he made the point already. Yet much of Poelman's thinking about the subject of evil is appealingly humanistic, and his attempt at a scholarly tone—though undermined by the use of nonscholarly sources, such as Parade magazine—brings an admirable restraint to potentially inflammatory topics. Poelman presents an optimistic vision for humankind: As we learn the true nature of evil, we are mastering it and eradicating it from the world, paving the way for a glorious and peaceable age. With a message like that, and a polemic perhaps a quarter of this manuscript’s length, Poelman could be a moderating voice in contemporary theological discussions.  

Poelman’s weighty inquiry into the biblical origins of evil is at times hard to follow but is notable for its hopeful vision for humankind.

Pub Date: March 22, 2011

ISBN: 979-1449002954

Page Count: 433

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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