A personally involving journey to the world of spiritually directed prayer meditation and individual encounters with God.

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SHARED IMAGINATION

A CHANNEL TO GOD AND WITH EACH OTHER

A debut Christian guide focuses on finding God through meditation.

Archer opens her detailed account of unconventional spiritual practices with the confession that for decades she felt both inside and outside of traditional religious observances. She attended church services but tended to sense that some key element was missing. This feeling consigned her to a “borderland” between standard services and something else. At first vague to her, she eventually discovered a more personal, revelatory experience of faith. She came to embrace a practice called spiritual direction, both in groups and one-on-one, an informal method of locating a more personal connection to the Christian God through meditation. (For the most part, the book targets Christian readers.) Archer relates her growing familiarity with the meditation group she joined as the members learned about one another and explored the inner, personal sides of their faith. The author combines a layering of standard Jungian ideas of the collective unconscious with a reading of classic and contemporary Christian texts. She mixes this conceptual grounding with strong elements of her personal story, most poignantly the extent to which her intimate spiritual meditation helped her recover from the death of her newborn daughter. Her account chronicles a series of meetings with the divine (including the Virgin Mary) as well as encounters with many kinds of people who express varying degrees of skepticism about her unusual spiritual practices, from condescension to thinly veiled suggestions of heresy regarding her “God-incidents.” It’s intriguing to watch the author starting to master self-control (“God often needs our silence in order to speak to us,” she relates at one point). But as in all such books about direct supernatural revelations, readers’ confidence in the author will correspond directly to their own willingness to believe in one-on-one divine conversations. Certainly Archer’s convictions come across as sincere and unaffected throughout; her narrative voice is consistently direct and engaging.

A personally involving journey to the world of spiritually directed prayer meditation and individual encounters with God.

Pub Date: May 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982203-74-0

Page Count: 204

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2018

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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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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