Damned Fools


A spirited critique of contemporary Christianity that demands it become both more intellectually rigorous and inclusive.
Holland’s first book takes modern Christianity to task for philosophical and moral complacency. In his view, the way Christianity is currently practiced is a pervasive hypocrisy that undermines the true teaching of Christ. “The problem with Christianity is: Christians so scarcely resemble Christ in any way,” he writes. The argument begins with a Socratic call to accept one’s ignorance and eliminate the hubristic sense of certainty he believes permeates Christian thinking: “Christians are prone to supernaturally feel no need to check the validity of the knowledge they strongly revere.” Also, he contends that Christians tend to rely too heavily, and blindly, on scriptural text to settle every debate, missing opportunities for thoughtful reflection. This closed-mindedness has unfortunate moral consequences, leading to the intemperate condemnation, and exclusion, of whole groups of would-be Christians. The author focuses on the LGBT community and divorcés; the section devoted to the latter group includes an intensely personal account of the author’s own experience. There is also a chapter-length treatment of abortion, challenging the Christian prohibition of it. The causes of the decline of Christian practice and belief are many, but Holland singles out the corrupting influences of capitalism and denominationalism, or the fracturing of the Church into doctrinal cliques driven by a spirit of exclusion rather than spiritual unity. The author’s arguments, always provocative, sometimes falter when he paints with overbroad strokes, something he often accuses Christians of doing. For example: “The way Christians treat divorced persons is disgusting.” The title of the book, of course, is less than sympathetic to dissent. Also, while the discussion of biblical text is typically rigorous, some parts would have benefited from a more expansive scholarly consideration. The chapter devoted to capitalism should have discussed Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical in 2009, Caritas in Veritate, which presents a much more complex view of the relation between the church’s teaching and commerce. Still, Holland manages a timely, nuanced examination of the church’s excessive traditionalism and the ways its resistance to progress degrades its members’ spirituality.

A powerful, personal account of how the Christian church’s true message has become disfigured in modern times.

Pub Date: April 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615945842

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Walking Thru Ministries

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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