A bracingly enthusiastic example of modern-day Christology.

JESUS CHRIST

HIS LIFE AND MINE

A writer offers a celebration of the life and teachings of Jesus set against a contemporary backdrop.

Bohlen opens his well-designed nonfiction debut with an acknowledgement of an increasingly studied new reality. The heavy use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter almost invariably leads to a lessening of personal happiness. People, particularly the young, who view these apps excessively end up wasting time, feeling jealousy, and becoming impatient with media and books that demand longer concentration. Bohlen asserts that this “murky collection” of platforms makes people worse: “We become prideful, self-centered, and think we know better than God.” But, as the author lays out in his eloquent and inviting prose, the solution to this problem has been readily handy for 2,000 years: Christianity. “Once envisioned—no, experienced—the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ cannot be erased,” he writes. “Why? Because Jesus Christ adds the dimension of eternal light. In a tender, deeply satisfying way, it blows any IMAX movie experience out of the water.” In a narrative move that’s possibly quite wise considering the unprecedented rates at which young people of the “Twitter generation” are abandoning traditional religions, Bohlen largely sidelines the opening antagonist of social media and instead concentrates on celebrating the Jesus story, bringing to it a sense of passionate immediacy that makes all the elements of that narrative feel fresh. Focusing on the Nativity, he relates: “The Christ, born tonight? Generations have waited for this moment, and here it is, tonight?” In the book—which features beautiful, uncredited photographs—the author intersperses his recapitulations of New Testament stories with pedagogical insets (“Doctrinal Points to Ponder”) and explicitly instructional ones (“How It Applies to Me”). Bohlen takes readers through the famous moments of the New Testament because, as he puts it, “Jesus is the gold standard by which we can know what is good, what is wise, and what is truly important.” His Christian readers should love how he treats that gold standard.

A bracingly enthusiastic example of modern-day Christology.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949572-00-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Carpenter's Son Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

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The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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THE WEIGHT OF GLORY

The name of C.S. Lewis will no doubt attract many readers to this volume, for he has won a splendid reputation by his brilliant writing. These sermons, however, are so abstruse, so involved and so dull that few of those who pick up the volume will finish it. There is none of the satire of the Screw Tape Letters, none of the practicality of some of his later radio addresses, none of the directness of some of his earlier theological books.

Pub Date: June 15, 1949

ISBN: 0060653205

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1949

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