An intriguing—if overreaching—attempt to align Christianity with subatomic particles.




A debut spiritual guidebook attempts to enlist the laws of physics in the cause of faith.

“God has made it easy for us to know what path to take, because He has put a hedge of thorns to mark our way,” Kostenuk writes in her manual. “We know we are on the right path when we are in harmony and flow.” By contrast, she continues, we know we’ve strayed from the path if we hit the hedge of thorns. This invites the usual problems with Christian claims of divine intervention (some skeptical readers may believe that if God wanted to make it easy, he would announce the path and remove the thorns). But the author’s emphasis here is on the nature of that harmony and flow. Toward this goal, she invokes, among other seemingly unlikely allies, the famed Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics—or at least, her elucidation of it, which starts with the assumption that “to know and understand the energy laws of the universe is to know and understand a little more of the mind of our Creator.” This, too, raises questions (humans have had thousands of religions, many with a different Creator/God), but Kostenuk is writing for her fellow devout and sign-seeking Christians. For those readers, she deftly provides anecdote after anecdote intended to illustrate her core contention that concerted belief can affect physical reality, that faithful Christians can gain access to power over the external realm by tapping into their inner worlds. This comes about, she claims, through the “law of faith,” which can transform strong belief, what she calls knowing, into reality. “If you make a thought as real as the experience in the external environment,” she writes, “then sooner or later you should find evidence in your body and brain.” Her prose is clear and accessible, and the many family stories she puts forward as examples of mentally directed energy should be captivating for readers who already believe their faith can move mountains.

An intriguing—if overreaching—attempt to align Christianity with subatomic particles.

Pub Date: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-5612-1

Page Count: 172

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2017

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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 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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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