A visually appealing treatise hampered by a lack of references.

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

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

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. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED

The Book of Genesis as imagined by a veteran voice of underground comics.

R. Crumb’s pass at the opening chapters of the Bible isn’t nearly the act of heresy the comic artist’s reputation might suggest. In fact, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural is fastidiously respectful. Crumb took pains to preserve every word of Genesis—drawing from numerous source texts, but mainly Robert Alter’s translation, The Five Books of Moses (2004)—and he clearly did his homework on the clothing, shelter and landscapes that surrounded Noah, Abraham and Isaac. This dedication to faithful representation makes the book, as Crumb writes in his introduction, a “straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes.” But his efforts are in their own way irreverent, and Crumb feels no particular need to deify even the most divine characters. God Himself is not much taller than Adam and Eve, and instead of omnisciently imparting orders and judgment He stands beside them in Eden, speaking to them directly. Jacob wrestles not with an angel, as is so often depicted in paintings, but with a man who looks not much different from himself. The women are uniformly Crumbian, voluptuous Earth goddesses who are both sexualized and strong-willed. (The endnotes offer a close study of the kinds of power women wielded in Genesis.) The downside of fitting all the text in is that many pages are packed tight with small panels, and too rarely—as with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—does Crumb expand his lens and treat signature events dramatically. Even the Flood is fairly restrained, though the exodus of the animals from the Ark is beautifully detailed. The author’s respect for Genesis is admirable, but it may leave readers wishing he had taken a few more chances with his interpretation, as when he draws the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a provocative half-man/half-lizard. On the whole, though, the book is largely a tribute to Crumb’s immense talents as a draftsman and stubborn adherence to the script.

An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-393-06102-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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