A breezily funny, but sharp meditation on the meandering path to a spiritual awakening.

Encourage to Faith

THE PRESUMPTUOUS, MOSTLY ACCURATE ACCOUNT OF ONE MAN’S JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF GOD

A personal reflection recounts one man’s lifetime odyssey from the celebration of reason to a submission to faith.

Even as a child, debut author Murray was relentlessly curious and analytically demanding, coldly rational about his approach to understanding the world. In his 20s, he restlessly searched for a deeper purpose to life, and turned to a slew of self-help books for guidance, but to no avail. His subsequent strategy remained bookish but became more refined, and he started to study existentialist philosophy, but again was ultimately unmoved by its solipsistic individuality. Then, he turned to ancient philosophy, especially Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and from there turned to religion, and sampled Buddhism, Mormonism, and even Scientology. He finally sought mooring in monumental literature, and decided to devour the 100 greatest books ever written. Conspicuously absent from that list was the Bible, something Murray noticed when a neighbor in an Atlanta office park invited him to a Bible discussion group. He demurred at the time, but was drawn to the book thereafter, and the more he read, the more the author was mesmerized by its saving message. Eventually, against the counsel of others, Murray left the real estate business and devoted himself to a vocational ministry. This is a brief personal memoir—30 speedy chapters—that narrowly focuses on the author’s spiritual journey, one that began cerebrally but ended with a faithful chastening of rational hubris. The remembrance is philosophically robust—Murray recruits the help of intellectual heavyweights like G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis to make sense of his transformation. But this is not a theological study; it is not only written in accessible prose, but also with verve and self-deprecating wit. At one juncture, Murray wryly congratulates the reader for benefitting from his reflections: “As a consequence, today is your lucky day. You have the dubious privilege of bearing witness to what I’ve learned about the soul so far.” One could gripe that the message is a well-worn one, which is surely true, but it’s also an exemplary Christian one: the stubborn, almost begrudging surrendering to a higher authority, and the joy that ensues from that capitulation. What this volume lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in its refreshing unpretentiousness and modest wisdom.

A breezily funny, but sharp meditation on the meandering path to a spiritual awakening.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2016

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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 youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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