IS HEAVEN A PLACE?

A potentially controversial approach to the Bible.

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

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

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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