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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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. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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