A thoughtful, accessible, and useful religious study guide.


A study guide about the famous biblical story of the Samaritan woman at the well.

In this slim work, the author explores the Gospel passage of John 4:4-26. In it, Jesus meets a woman and asks her for water and uses the moment to teach her about God’s unconditional love and salvation. Mills, in turn, uses this tale as a metaphor for finding wholeness in times of struggle, accepting God’s love, and having patience regarding his plans. The author imaginatively brings the passage to life, reflecting on what the two actors in the story might have thought and felt and drawing out lessons for readers’ own lives. The book also provides context for readers unfamiliar with biblical history, explaining the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans and unpacking how such details may enhance and enrich the biblical story. Mills also weaves in personal anecdotes, finding religious lessons in mundane occurrences; for example, she uses her own father’s rehabilitation of an underfed horse as a metaphor for God’s ability to make people whole again and to love them despite their flaws. Similarly, she provides engaging “Food for Thought” discussion questions, which range from the simple (“What’s your typical reaction toward having to wait for someone to show up?”) to the lofty (“In what ways do we use what imprisons us to define our freedom?”). Overall, she aims to help readers access the spiritual promise in the biblical tale, which she says is about Jesus accepting people in their “brokenness” and sin. She ends with an exhortation to the reader to “go to the well…empty…thirsty…[and] exhausted of ourselves.” Throughout, the prose is simple, clean, and readable. Study groups may find particular value in the book, both as a jumping-off point for discussion and as a gentle introduction to Bible study. It would also work well for individuals, as there’s room in the text for solitary readers to write in answers to the discussion questions.

A thoughtful, accessible, and useful religious study guide.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490856377

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

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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 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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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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