THE MESSENGER

A PARABLE

Girzone still oraculates his story in parables, but this mode is mushy when he should give real sinew to Francis’s...

Girzone’s fans, who have followed the parablist through his many slim volumes of simplistic restatements of Christ’s messages, as well as his taking on of new subjects such as gay marriage and women in the priesthood, will be delighted to hear that his Jesus figure, Joshua (1990), will arrive in movie theaters next spring just as this new book comes out. Girzone, who retired from the active priesthood in 1981, is on a mission to lift Christ’s parables out of the archaic and bring them to modern man—call it Christ in khakis, perhaps. In The Messenger, he takes on the divisions in the Kingdom of Light (the Catholic Church), the bureaucracies swamping the Vatican, the splinter groups abandoning the Kingdom’s authority, and non-Kingdom preachers springing up with flocks of their own, and so on, all of this making Christ fade from the forefront of faith. This time, Girzone gives up Joshua for Francis, a maverick priest seemingly based on Girzone’s own life and career. Francis flies about the globe making friends and giving long talks about the King (Jesus), whose tender spirit has been wounded by the many cracks splitting his Kingdom.

Girzone still oraculates his story in parables, but this mode is mushy when he should give real sinew to Francis’s antagonist.

Pub Date: April 16, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-49514-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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