A revisionist view, to be sure, full of big questions and persuasive answers. A worthy companion to Elaine Pagels’s Beyond...

A SERIOUS WAY OF WONDERING

THE ETHICS OF JESUS IMAGINED

A profoundly engaging essay in Christology, honoring Jesus’ humane divinity and divine humanity.

Essayist and novelist Price (Noble Norfleet, 2002, etc.) has been a civilian, non-churchgoing student of theology for most of his 70 years, and he has little use for the semiliterate What Would Jesus Do and the archliterate Jesus Seminar variants of exegesis afoot today. In their place he proposes a mostly commonsensical view of Jesus, though one that requires a leap of faith all the same: namely, acceptance as fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead. “No moment of history has been the bone of more contention,” he writes. “Who, though, questions that Socrates of Athens taught in a quizzical manner; that Alexander the Great was eventually an alcoholic or that the Emperor Caligula was barking mad? For which of those items do we have firmer historical evidence than for Jesus’ potential survival—in some uniquely perceptible form—of death?” It’s possible not to make this leap and still enjoy the portrait of Jesus, and of Jesus’ ethical views, for, as Price offers it, it is a loving and altogether generous one. Writing apocryphally, in the biblical sense, Price suggests, for example, that Jesus would never have dreamed of condemning homosexuality per se; instead, only those “who cause these little ones who believe to stumble”—that is, child molesters—are singled out for the fire-and-brimstone (or, rather, saltwater and millstone) treatment. For Price, Jesus’ central ethic can be distilled to this: “God loves us; we must love one another.” And, though he discerns some contradictions in the teachings, and perhaps a few misreadings of God’s big plan (whence Jesus’ plaintive final words), Price finds no false notes whatever in Christ’s open-armed behavior toward the people he encountered in his short lifetime—behavior that your run-of-the-mill fundamentalist would likely not care to emulate, or even endorse.

A revisionist view, to be sure, full of big questions and persuasive answers. A worthy companion to Elaine Pagels’s Beyond Belief (p. 290) and other recent proposals of a kinder, gentler Christianity.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-3008-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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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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