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A thoughtful, deeply personal reflection on a controversial institution.

In Nelson’s debut memoir, a committed Catholic comes to terms with the fact that his son’s gay.

Expanding on his award-winning 2005 article for Notre Dame Magazine, “God Gave Me A Gay Son,” Nelson explores his son’s sexual orientation as well as his own growing awareness about life, family and the church. During a 2004 sermon that pushed for a measure on Michigan’s ballot to ban gay marriage, the author stood up, expressed his disgust and walked out of his church. How did a devout, unquestioning Catholic become an outspoken critic of the church’s homophobic policies and a fierce supporter of his son and the LBGT community? To answer this, Nelson delves into his own story, covering his strict Catholic upbringing, the rigors of raising six children, the revelation that his son was gay, his yearlong separation from his wife of 30 years, his emerging activism in the gay community and his struggles to cope with his wife’s death. Nelson’s memoir is a thorough study of a man coming to terms with his faith and his family. But the narrative does diverge on several tangents, including a large section on boating in the Great Lakes. But the story is consistently poignant and meaningful, buoyed by the author’s earnestness, his love for his family and his readiness to look at his own faults. Even when his writing wanders, Nelson’s work has heart; his insistence throughout the story that the experiences in his life have been a part of his continuing education feels authentic. Nelson frames himself as a layperson with important questions for his church, and his courage and curiosity should be appreciated by other adherents—not simply written off as the complaints of a disgruntled parishioner. His concerns are real, and the Church would be wise to listen.

A thoughtful, deeply personal reflection on a controversial institution. 

Pub Date: May 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475016741

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2012

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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 19, 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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