Dry musings for those who like to deconstruct traditional Christianity.

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THE CHRISTIAN ENIGMA

BACK TO THE MESSAGE

According to two interfaith pastors, it was a misunderstanding that led Jesus’ followers to falsely believe he was the son of God and was resurrected from the dead.

Cynthia Lynch (Public Affairs & Security Studies/Univ. of Texas Pan America; The Word of the Light, 1998) and Thomas Lynch (Public Administration/Louisiana State Univ.; The Word of the Light, 1998, etc.) admire Jesus but believe he “was just a man,” albeit one deserving respect. They call salvation-based Christianity as practiced today the “Alpha Interpretation” and offer instead their “Omega Interpretation” of the New Testament, arguing that Jesus’ teachings weren’t new and were similar to those of “other great religious thinkers” of the world. They say Jesus’ message was simply to “[d]evelop your inner spirituality” and let it guide you through life. Contrary to this teaching, they say, the Alpha Interpretation tells Christians “merely to accept Jesus as our God and Savior and then we can go to the ATM with our prayer card any old time and request our favors and gifts and God’s forgiveness for our sins.” They discuss Matthew’s account of Jesus’ early life, which says his family moved to Egypt and then back to Israel, though they say the other Gospels’ silence on the matter implies “nothing like that happened.” Yet they make their own bold claims, such as their belief that Jesus trained with the Therapeutae community in Alexandria, which may have been influenced by Buddhism, and they suggest Jesus was the first “Reform Jew.” The Bible’s silence on those particular matters is apparently of no concern. Jesus probably survived the Crucifixion, they say, and the Resurrection “cover story” helped him avoid another trip to the cross. Generally well-written, the book has some typos that don’t interfere with comprehension of the often dense text. (The authors frequently use one distracting term: “Kindom of God” rather than “Kingdom of God,” which they believe is sexist.) While the authors admirably value logic and reason, in a book about faith it’s strange that they come across as so disinterested in anything resembling an emotion. Whether or not their Omega Interpretation is true, reading about it is a joyless journey.

Dry musings for those who like to deconstruct traditional Christianity.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0985647513

Page Count: 362

Publisher: International Academy for Interfaith Studies

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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