THE GOOD NEWS CLUB

THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT'S STEALTH ASSAULT ON AMERICA'S CHILDREN

Compelling investigative journalism about an undercovered phenomenon.

Investigation of Christian fundamentalist groups introducing religious doctrine into public schools across the United States.

Freelance journalist and novelist Stewart (Class Mothers, 2006, etc.) became aware of the fundamentalist campaign when it entered her daughter's elementary school in California, and later, the school district in their new home in New York City. Stewart not only interviewed school officials, classroom teachers, constitutional-law experts and students, but she also attended training sessions sponsored by Christian fundamentalists. Despite what she assumed was an inviolable separation between church and state, Stewart discovered that the U.S. Supreme Court, led by justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, has been interpreting the Constitution to mandate taxpayer-financed public schools to open their buildings to evangelical missionaries. The author explains some of the court's rulings, including the leading case Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001). Although Stewart treats the missionaries fairly, the book is advocacy journalism at its strongest. The author does not mask her dismay at the success of the movement, and she is especially concerned that the evangelicals are laboring to skew textbooks so that all lessons revolve around the virtues of a Christian nation, and are pushing for the defunding of public education in favor of church-affiliated schools. At times Stewart's phrasing borders on alarmist, but she usually backs up the alarm with solid reporting. Some of the most poignant sections move away from policy debates to demonstrate how many evangelists have ripped the formerly positive fabric of student-teacher-administrator-parent cooperation, replacing it with warring camps—those who oppose the introduction of fundamentalist religion, those who favor it and those uncertain what to think.

Compelling investigative journalism about an undercovered phenomenon.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58648-843-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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