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



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 phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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