A potentially controversial approach to the Bible.

IS HEAVEN A PLACE?

A book that argues for presenting biblical miracles as metaphors.

Fratianne (co-author: What Has Prayer Got To Do With Anything, Anyway?, 2018, etc.), an emeritus professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University, encourages a modern approach to Scripture that will fit readers’ 21st-century experience. First, he argues that Jesus’ purpose was to teach the essence of God’s love—and that this love should be replicated and shared among all of humanity. Early on, the author notes that he was shaped in many ways by a strict Catholic upbringing, and he believes that sermons on sin and punishment only push people away from the church: “No wonder, when we grow up, so many people turn away from the Church when they are made to feel they were created to be a bad person.” Secondly, Fratianne urges the church to move past supernatural explanations for biblical stories, which he often equates with “magic.” Instead, he believes that they should be taught as metaphors. For instance, he says that he believes that Moses didn’t see an actual burning bush but that he had no other words to describe what his mystical experience felt like. Likewise, Jesus did not literally feed masses of people with a few fish and loaves of bread, the author says; instead, the people felt full and satisfied due to his teachings. Fratianne’s tone is approachable and caring—at various points, for example, he references his own experience as a burn specialist while pointing out the importance of love, patience, and hope toward recovery as well as the commitment of caregivers from all traditions—and his message will likely be welcomed by some progressive Christians. Traditionalists, however, may cringe at his treatment of Scripture at times. For example, he presents the resurrection of Jesus in metaphorical terms—Jesus is resurrected in the hearts of believers as they follow him, he says. As for the title, heaven, he says, isn’t a place but “a state of being, centered on the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.”

A potentially controversial approach to the Bible.

Pub Date: May 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4808-6001-8

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 23, 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 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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