An inspirational but familiar guide to the promises of eternity offered by Christian Scripture.



A motivational manual focuses on the Christian concepts of death and the afterlife.

This slim volume from Swets (Finding Happiness, 2015, etc.) takes a very simple and straightforward approach. The author, a pastoral counselor, assembles virtually everything in Christian Scripture pertaining to death and the afterlife. “Life is a battleground. Death is an enemy,” Swets writes. “If you have been hurt in this fight, or if you feel you have already lost the battle for faith, do not despair. Victory is still possible.” The author quotes from the Gospels, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation, in all cases stressing the notes of hope and continuation. In this sense, Jesus’ words in the Gospel of St. Matthew form the guiding sentiment: “For I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The book’s organization invites easy consultation: Sections are short and relevant Scriptural passages are offset in italics. And Swets’ scriptural interpretations make all the customary logical and deductive jumps that Christian eschatology requires. “The Bible does not tell us a great deal about this intermediate state,” he writes at one point, discussing the transition from earthly flesh to resurrected eternal life. “Lack of detail is part of the grand mystery of God.” And lack of detail applies to the whole discussion here. “Historical fact lays the groundwork for our hope,” Swets asserts. “We are not talking about wish fulfillment or mystic vision or conjecture. God’s power raised Jesus Christ—body and soul—from the dead. This is the historical basis for the hope of our own bodily resurrection.” Of course, no historical facts attest to the resurrection of Jesus or any other person; mystic visions and conjectures are what the author has to deal with. The Christian faithful, for whom this work is obviously written, will already be familiar with both its verses and interpretations. But there’s a comfort and ease to having all of the relevant passages collected in one handy volume. 

An inspirational but familiar guide to the promises of eternity offered by Christian Scripture.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63357-163-1

Page Count: 175

Publisher: Crosslink Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 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 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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