VISIONS OF JESUS

Wiebe (Philosophy/Trinity Western Univ., Canada) draws on 30 contemporary visionaries and a wide range of scholarship in an attempt to produce a philosophically coherent critique of visions of Jesus. Many people claim to have experienced these visions, so that dismissing all such reports as hoaxes or hallucinations can look like prejudice. But the question remains, what sense are we to make of what the visionaries tell us? Wiebe's answer is that visions of Jesus do not exactly prove anything about the truth of Christianity or even the existence of God, but they are symbolic of a transcendent realm that is as real as that of conventional Western science. Wiebe's approach involves issues of epistemology and philosophy of religion; for example, he uses the thought of Richard Swinburne and Alvin Platinga and looks at various theories of how mind and body interact. Wiebe is also a disciple of William James and Alistair Hardy in his attitude to religious experience. Our author offers as the empirical basis of his study 30 contemporary cases of alleged visions that he has personally investigated. These include not only dreamlike encounters but also experiences shared by groups of people and even recorded on film. Not all of the visionaries were religiously active, but in spite of Wiebe's protestations of heterogeneity, most of them seem to have been influenced by an Evangelical or Pentecostalist setting. An important part of Wiebe's thesis is his controversial belief that these visions are basically the same as, and thus shed light on, those recorded in the New Testament. It is a pity that in a multidisciplinary study of religion Wiebe largely bypasses theology and the nuanced Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions of discerning the authenticity of visions and situating them in the larger context of religious growth and practice.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-19-509750-5

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997

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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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