AN ISLAND IN THE LAKE OF FIRE

BOB JONES UNIVERSITY, FUNDAMENTALISM, AND THE SEPARATIST MOVEMENT

A competent history of Bob Jones University, in Greensville, S.C., and its extreme brand of Christian fundamentalism. Founded in 1927 by the patriarchal Bob Jones Sr., the eponymous university's self-described mission was and still remains to do combat with ``all atheistic, agnostic, pagan . . . adulterations of the Gospel.'' From an ongoing refusal to accept accreditation, to a general discouragement of independent thinking, to an infamous ban on interracial dating (on the theory that it could lead to satanic one-worldism), this hyperliteralist view of the Bible has wrought a university quite unlike any other. As university presidents, all three Bob Joneses, from Sr. to III, have also had a strong effect on shaping the school in their respective images. Dalhouse (History/Truman State Univ.) believes this accounts for some of the school's more paradoxical elements. For example, despite an insularity so relentless that interscholastic athletics are forbidden, students are pushed to succeed in the secular world. Then there is the world-class art collection, the well-known opera program and performance series, and the award- winning filmmaking program (although students are forbidden to go to the movies). In other words, the Joneses have freely accepted secularism when it suited their individual temperaments. Where they've refused almost any compromise is with fellow evangelicals and fundamentalists. Thus the Reverend Billy Graham is routinely demonized, and the Reverend Jerry Falwell was once characterized as ``the most dangerous man in America.'' It's all too easy to dismiss the Joneses as crackpot, cultish fanatics, but Dalhouse largely avoids the temptation as he tries to understand what makes them tick. His account is both evenhanded and fair, tracing in fine detail how the Joneses' beliefs and their university evolved. Though encumbered by frequent repetitions and structural awkwardness, this is a discerning narrative.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8203-1815-9

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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Worthwhile reference stuffed with facts and illustrations.

ROSE BOOK OF BIBLE CHARTS, MAPS AND TIME LINES

A compendium of charts, time lines, lists and illustrations to accompany study of the Bible.

This visually appealing resource provides a wide array of illustrative and textually concise references, beginning with three sets of charts covering the Bible as a whole, the Old Testament and the New Testament. These charts cover such topics as biblical weights and measures, feasts and holidays and the 12 disciples. Most of the charts use a variety of illustrative techniques to convey lessons and provide visual interest. A worthwhile example is “How We Got the Bible,” which provides a time line of translation history, comparisons of canons among faiths and portraits of important figures in biblical translation, such as Jerome and John Wycliffe. The book then presents a section of maps, followed by diagrams to conceptualize such structures as Noah’s Ark and Solomon’s Temple. Finally, a section on Christianity, cults and other religions describes key aspects of history and doctrine for certain Christian sects and other faith traditions. Overall, the authors take a traditionalist, conservative approach. For instance, they list Moses as the author of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) without making mention of claims to the contrary. When comparing various Christian sects and world religions, the emphasis is on doctrine and orthodox theology. Some chapters, however, may not completely align with the needs of Catholic and Orthodox churches. But the authors’ leanings are muted enough and do not detract from the work’s usefulness. As a resource, it’s well organized, inviting and visually stimulating. Even the most seasoned reader will learn something while browsing.

Worthwhile reference stuffed with facts and illustrations.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 978-1-5963-6022-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

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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