An ingenious and insightful approach to Scripture.

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THE WITH-NESS OF OUR GOD

A Christian devotional based upon prepositional relationships found in the Bible.

Loyd, an educator, begins this book by sharing her lifelong love of grammar—an interest that led her to look carefully at the specific grammatical constructions of the Bible and their implications for Christians. This leads to an exploration of prepositional phrases used in Scripture. This seemingly banal project turns out to be filled with insights about the relationship between God and the faithful. The author’s primary example is “with,” as in the phrase “God is with us,” and she looks at the three Greek words which could be translated as “with” and how they differ from one another. She then goes on to analyze a number of other prepositions in the same manner, focusing especially on key lines, such as, “If God is for us, who is against us?” and “You are in Christ Jesus.” Loyd designs each of her nine chapters as a one-week devotional tool. She begins by laying out a grammatical concept and focusing on a key verse, then moves on to seven days’ worth of reflections, including study and discussion questions. Her prose style is solid though certainly informal and even folksy at times. She often uses examples from her own daily life to back up her points; for instance, in one case, she related an imperfect birthday cake she baked to Jesus, “who came to earth and put up with a broken, imperfect life for my sake.” At another point, she contrasts an old, threadbare nightgown with the comfort of life with Christ. Loyd is well-read within the evangelical canon, quoting authors as diverse as early-20th-century Scottish Baptist minister Oswald Chambers and present-day Christian pastor and broadcaster Tony Evans. She also ably explains the basics of Christian theology, placing substitutionary atonement within the context of “Christ died for me.”

An ingenious and insightful approach to Scripture.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5127-1504-0

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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 author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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