A visually appealing treatise hampered by a lack of references.

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THEOLOGY OF COSMOLOGY

WRITTEN FOR ALL GOD'S CHILDREN WHO WANT TO KNOW

A book that looks at theology and cosmology through the fullness of time.

Smith (God’s Plan of Creation, 2014) offers a worthwhile companion to his earlier work, illustrating many of its key points while also covering additional material. In this slim volume, he attempts to explore history from a cosmic and theological perspective. He describes all of creation as coming, both materially and spiritually, from the “One God”—the maker of a vast system of heavens and universes, as well as the creator of advanced spiritual beings to rule over them. These sentient entities, the author says, have the freedom to stay in heavenly realms as angels or to explore the vast universe; every human being, he says, is such an entity. Smith also states that he believes that these beings exist far beyond Earth: “Anyone that thinks God in all His wisdom would create such a vast creation and only put living people, like us, on this small and insignificant planet…is on a great ego trip.” Uninitiated readers of this work will likely be lost in a maze of unfamiliar terms and ideas, which he discusses without references of any kind. After a thorough introduction to his concept of cosmology, for example, the author launches into a complex timeline beginning “Approx. 20 trillion years ago” and ending at the start of Jesus’ ministry. Despite the timeline’s length, however, a large part of it specifically concerns Jesus, whom the author identifies as a manifestation of “Christ Michael,” the ruler of the local galaxy. Throughout, Smith provides numerous, uncited details of Jesus’ life that aren’t recorded anywhere in traditional sources, including the names and birth dates of his siblings, his devotion to playing music, an accident that he suffered in a sandstorm, and a teenage girl named Rebecca who wanted to marry him. Overall, Smith’s work is intriguing, and his use of graphics often makes his ideas more accessible and even entertaining. However, traditional Christian readers will question some of the book’s more fantastical—and unfortunately, uncredited—claims.

A visually appealing treatise hampered by a lack of references.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5462-2212-5

Page Count: 124

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2018

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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 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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