MYSTERIES OF THE JESUS PRAYER

EXPERIENCING THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND A PILGRIMAGE TO THE HEART OF AN ANCIENT SPIRITUALITY

A rare investigation into the spiritual life of Eastern Orthodox Mystics.

Through the repetition of one prayer—“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner”—monks, nuns and hermits have found inner silence and union with God for nearly 2,000 years. With the intention of bringing this prayer to the masses, Chumley (Columbia University Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life) and his friend Father John secured permission to visit and document the devotional way of life preserved in ancient monasteries. As they toured the Holy places as privileged guests, they crossed the Egyptian desert in an air-conditioned van to the oldest Christian monastery on Earth, viewed Moses’ still flourishing burning bush at St. Catherine’s on Mt. Sinai and experienced the powerful ringing of the world’s largest bell at close range in Kiev. “Without prayer, a monk is just a man in a black dress,” says Father Jonas in Kiev. The book includes full-color photographs and wonderful insights into a legendary world that still exists. In particularly evocative prose, Chumley recalls the myrrh-scented remains of saints as he views stacks of bones in the monks’ cells, tells heroic but often gory tales of famous saints’ demise and shares the peaceful wisdom of the monks. Although impressed by the warmth and love exhibited by the Holy people he encountered, Chumley remains an outsider and writes for the intellectual, rather than devotional, reader. A blend of anthropological study, spiritual quest and travelogue that sheds light on the search for inner peace.

 

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-187417-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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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