CATHOLICS ON THE EDGE

A warm and highly readable discussion of the uneasy relationship many American Catholics today have with their Church. Unsworth (Here Comes Everybody!, 1993), a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, offers 16 vignettes about contemporary Catholics who—because of their beliefs, actions, or merely their gender—exist on the margin of the official Roman Catholic Church. Despite disaffection, they choose to remain in the Church and struggle. Barbara Blaine, a law student who also works with people who have been abused by priests, sums up the feelings of many when she declares that she could no more cease to be a Catholic than she could stop being a member of her own family—this despite having been sexually molested herself by a priest. Based on interviews, Unsworth's retellings of others' stories are equally compelling. Margaret Traxler, a nun, believes that any relation today between the teachings of Jesus and the pronouncements of the Vatican (which she feels ``traffics in money making'') is purely coincidental; nevertheless she continues to work in a parish on Chicago's South Side. The female students at the Catholic Theological Union continue their studies even though they cannot be ordained; the irony is that many may end up later teaching their male counterparts. Even bishops can be pushed to the ``edge.'' They are often ignored by the Church hierarchy until they run afoul of it and live their lives in fear of what the Vatican might think of their public actions; many do not have the courage to stand up for what they believe. The issues of abortion, birth control, and sexual orientation come up throughout the volume, forming a thread that links the lives of many chronicled. Compelling, though it will probably appeal primarily to American Catholics who feel in some way abandoned by a Church that they will nonetheless not desert.

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8245-1463-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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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