A passionate call for Christian readers to come together as children of God.


A brief book of meditations on Christian empowerment.

Hogan’s nonfiction debut takes its title from the Gospel of Luke: “Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents, and scorpion, and all the powers of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you”—a metaphorical verse that’s sparked countless interpretations over the centuries. Hogan’s own interpretation is that it’s a message of strength through unity, which is one of the primary themes of her book. God wants the church to “walk in victory, not defeat.” Hogan writes: “He is calling us to be warriors, not wimps.” In Hogan’s view, this victory will be achieved by banding together and casting aside the disorder and division that she sees plaguing Christian churches of various denominations. God, she writes, gave his followers Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers, and saints “for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith.” The author begins many chapters with quick glimpses of challenges that parents face, and she uses them as starting points to remind readers of their filial duties to God and his ministers, whose authority should be accepted, she asserts, regardless of their skin color, political views, gender, or past lifestyles. The main point, Hogan stresses, is that “Jesus Christ has only one church,” and it’s time for all Christians worldwide to join in one faith and put aside petty divisions. To make this and other points, the author employs a clear, personal prose style, and it’s emphatic, personal tone as it makes a far-reaching call for Christian obedience and unity will doubtless strike a chord with readers who may also be frustrated by the politics and small-mindedness of their own particular congregations. That said, there are occasional, distracting typographical errors (such as “Able” instead of “Abel”) and claims that some readers may argue with, such as that “God doesn’t choose sides.” However, the depiction of a God who loves all the faithful, despite their shortcomings, is no less appealing for being traditional.

A passionate call for Christian readers to come together as children of God.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4582-1364-8

Page Count: 116

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: July 2, 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 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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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. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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