An inspiring account of Christian faith that should appeal to readers hoping to learn more about how ministries can support...

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A CALL TO THE EDGE

A devout Christian recounts how she ended up founding a ministry in Ohio. 

Debut author Matthews knew from a young age that she was called by God to become “a missionary in the inner city.” Her faith was extremely strong and, through prayer, she decided to stay in her hometown of Akron to teach children in urban communities. This formed the first step in Matthews’ journey to founding Urban Vision in 1992, a ministry that she now leads with her husband, Rodney, where she works with “brothers and sisters of different cultures, to walk the path of ministry together.” The ministry began with Kids Clubs, run by Matthews, where as many as 20 children came to her house for “homework assistance.” She hoped that helping them to succeed academically would begin to break the cycle of poverty. Often, Matthews questioned her ability to spread the Word of God, thinking that she was “just ordinary Jodi,” yet she felt confident that God had “given me a voice to declare the Word of the Lord to the next generation in our little corner of the world.” Matthews’ experience has taught her that, “working with children in the city…so many of them just needed love, attention, and the Truth of God spoken into their lives.” This work deftly shows how the author’s unshakable faith has guided her on an admirable path of helping people—especially children—who need guidance, support, and a safe space to learn and pray if they wish. Though it’s clear that Matthews is deeply religious, this absorbing and heartfelt book focuses on the worthy programs she has founded in her ministry, such as a Bible study for mothers and literacy programs for non-English-speaking children. Whether or not readers share the author’s belief system, they should appreciate how deeply committed she has been to her community for more than 25 years. Furthermore, Matthews has managed to deliver a richly detailed, eye-opening look at how Christian ministries can positively impact communities without attempting to convert readers to her religion.

An inspiring account of Christian faith that should appeal to readers hoping to learn more about how ministries can support children and families economically and academically.  

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-9904-0

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 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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