Eloquent meditations on the healing power of Christian community, offered in the sobering aftermath of a church community’s...

Twelve Weeks in Spring

A series of hopeful messages for a church in crisis.

Montgomery begins his series of inspirational, uplifting religious ruminations in an unusual way—by setting them in a somber context. He originally gave the sermons in a real-life small church “located on the edge of a large city somewhere in the English-speaking Western world,” which was split by inner strife and turmoil. The congregation couldn’t agree about a possible expansion into a new building and eventually the church closed its doors as a result. As the pastor, Montgomery accepted full responsibility, but he also wondered why God allowed it to happen. When he reread the 12 Sunday homilies he delivered to his congregation during the 12 weeks of crisis, he was struck in retrospect by the clear ways in which God was speaking directly to the crisis, although none of the mortals involved could stop arguing long enough to hear the message. Time and again in these sermons, readers will find the author earnestly hitting notes of exceptionalism (“If we are to come into God’s presence as we seek to do here on a Sunday morning,” he reminded his listeners at one point, “we must also be separated from and untouched by evil of any kind”) and the need to be responsive to a higher calling (“if we do not respond, God will turn to others”). By explicating various Bible passages in these sermons, from the story of Mary and Martha to the Lord’s Prayer to the original sin and exile of Cain, Montgomery effectively seeks to reinforce John Wesley’s dictum that there’s no such thing as a solitary Christian. Seen in the context of other calls to reconciliation that came too late for their intended listeners, these sermons, although very clearly phrased, may make for melancholy reading.

Eloquent meditations on the healing power of Christian community, offered in the sobering aftermath of a church community’s dissolution.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490857091

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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

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