An ambitious, if messy, social treatise with a Christian perspective.

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THE DICHOTOMY

FACTS AND PERCEPTIONS: REORIENTATION ON PSYCHOSOCIAL, EDUCATIONAL, RELIGIOUS AND TRADITIONAL DYNAMICS

A work of Christian philosophy explores the factors that shape individuals.

No human is formed in a vacuum. All are the products of a web of interconnected influences— religion, education, psychology, and cultural traditions—that fashions them into the people they ultimately become. With this book, Mathunyane (Christian Identity Formation, 2015) examines some of these influences through the lens of what he terms dichotomy, or the notion that, in a pluralistic society, readers may not have been molded by the exact same influences as their peers. “In a diverse society,” writes the author in his preface, “apart from the prevailing similarities, there are also differences, which enrich the nation and have to be appreciated and celebrated.” Beginning with religion, Mathunyane looks at the various faiths (Judaism, Hinduism, Islam) that inform society, with a special influence placed on Christianity. He then describes the development of morality, the emergence of democracy and civil society, different types of leadership, and the means by which children are socialized. His conclusions for the ways that people should behave mostly fall on the conservative side of contemporary attitudes, with emphasis placed on the importance of faith, the home, and the significance of respecting one’s parents as well as other people. The work is formatted like a textbook, divided into chapters and subchapters by subject, each beginning with a table of contents and ending with a “Synthesis” section explaining the chapter’s main points. Mathunyane’s project is ambitious and curious. Despite its support for multiculturalism, however, its perspective is inherently theistic and Christian, and argues for the necessity of a religious education: “A child needs a religion that gives him faith in life, a faith to live by, and a faith that can help him learn to withstand the conflicts and doubts he” sometimes has. The prose is stiff and verbose. Even relatively simple concepts are made opaque by awkward syntax: “It became unfortunate when man violated God’s instructions and ended up with the introduction of death.” In the end, the reader is not quite sure of the book’s ultimate goal.

An ambitious, if messy, social treatise with a Christian perspective.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4828-0864-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: PartridgeAfrica

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2017

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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