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A thoughtful introduction to complex cultural and theological issues in the Christian faith.

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Head, a part-time English lecturer at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona, assesses the denominational fissures within Christianity and the possibility of future unity in this debut treatise.

The author experienced the sectarianism of Christianity firsthand when she was a young girl: Her father was a Catholic and she attended Catholic school, but her mother was a Methodist and took her to her own church. In this book, Head asserts that the doctrinal separation between Protestants and Catholics need not translate into mutual contempt, as both are bound by profound spiritual commitments. She goes on to furnish a far-reaching discussion of the differences between the two sides, emphasizing the tension between Catholics and evangelicals. Along the way, she provides admirably clear accounts of doctrinal debates regarding such issues as abortion, homelessness, divorce, and poverty. In the case of the latter two issues, she draws deeply from personal experience; after Head and her husband divorced, she says, she had to raise five kids as a single mother and fell into dire financial straits. The overarching metaphor of the entire study is an image of shattered glass, which can symbolically represent either disrepair or kaleidoscopic diversity. Head also supplies remarkably balanced histories of various religious culture wars in America and of the split between liberal Christianity and conservative evangelical thought. Ultimately, she counsels a meaningful détente between Christianity’s various subdivisions that doesn’t involve surrendering core principles—cooperation without compromise. At the heart of the book is a genuine spirit of reconciliation: “In every encounter with those who disagree with us, we are always to act in love, accepting and respecting the sacred humanity of every person. But we are not to crumble under the pressure to endorse actions we cannot deem morally justified.”

A thoughtful introduction to complex cultural and theological issues in the Christian faith. 

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64279-049-8

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Morgan James Faith

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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