Christians should find these chapters a tough but invigorating read.

READ REVIEW

A NEW GESTALT OF GOD

A debut author strives for a clearer picture of the Christian God.

Carney aims his work squarely at his fellow Christians: “This book in no way tries to prove the existence of God; it is assumed that he exists.” Rather, the author intends to help Christians “see through the clutter” and perceive their God with greater clarity and truth. His method of attempting this is to borrow principles from the gestalt conception of visualization, with the hope that his readers will “see things as complete wholes rather than seeing things as individual pieces that are added together to get the whole picture.” He uses this approach to pare what he considers pernicious, wayward views of Christianity—the “legalists” who passive aggressively embrace Christian law over Christian ethos, the “zombies” who claim to love God but don’t obey his commands, and the “runaways” who reject the religion—in favor of a broader and clearer outlook. This tactic is particularly persuasive in the enjoyable book’s strongest sections, when the author applies it to specific passages from Scripture. He cites, for example, the familiar line from the Johannine story of the woman taken in adultery (“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”), noting how often it’s quoted and referenced at church services—incompletely, in his opinion. It’s usually not accompanied by the crucial line Jesus then speaks to the woman herself: “If someone is preaching to you, and their message does not contain the message, ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ then their message is not the message of Jesus.” Throughout the lively, iconoclastic book, Carney is bracingly stern with his co-religionists. Citing statistics that show a huge drop-off in church attendance for Protestants after graduation from high school, for instance, he asks: “Could it be that they haven’t learned to love God, therefore finding church meaningless, or could it be that they aren’t in church because of you and me” who are?

Christians should find these chapters a tough but invigorating read.

Pub Date: May 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-8265-3

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2017

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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