Refreshingly humane, focusing on people rather than institutions. Admirers of Francis and students of church history alike...


In a collection whose original Italian publication marks the first year of his papacy, Pope Francis gathers homilies, sermons and brief essays that point to his most important concerns.

Francis—formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires—has been widely hailed as the open, thoroughly modern leader that the Catholic Church has been seeking. Some of his programmatic interests are ancient, however: He devotes three pieces to Mary, “mother of evangelization” and “icon of womanhood.” He writes and speaks at greater length, however, on the plight of the poor and the duty of the church to them: “Our faith in Christ,” he said in one sermon, “who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members.” Conservative churchmen may find those words to befit Paulo Freire more than the pontiff, but Francis doubles down by frowning on “careerism”—specifically, priestly careerism, the desire to achieve recognition as something other than a pastor—and excoriating “the cult of the god of money”: “God our Father gave us the task of protecting the earth—not for money, but for ourselves, for men and women.” Consumerism, he adds with respect to the second, is an enemy of the good, encouraging waste; Francis counsels that every time edible food is discarded, we should think of it “as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry.” Elsewhere, in a moment that distinguishes him from his immediate predecessors, he urges the churchly to extend charity not just to feeding the poor, but improving their condition so that they will be poor no longer.

Refreshingly humane, focusing on people rather than institutions. Admirers of Francis and students of church history alike will find this a useful introduction to the pontiff’s thought.

Pub Date: April 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8294-4168-0

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Loyola Press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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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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