Not always riveting reading, but Keller provides a contextually rich guide and companion to prayer.




A popular pastor puts the Bible back in prayer and sets the stage for an informed conversation with God.

Keller (Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions, 2013, etc.) brings his considerable biblical, historical and literary knowledge to bear on the concept of prayer. The best-selling author of titles like The Reason for God and The Prodigal God shines an intellectual light on a topic that is more often discussed in mystical terms. For Keller, prayer is not only an inner experience of God, but also a true conversation requiring significant preparation and practice. Founder of Manhattan’s fast-growing Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Keller knows that his audience contains sophisticated Christians looking for more than simple daily devotions to guide their spiritual practices. They want context, and Keller enthusiastically obliges. Citing Scripture first and foremost—references to New Testament passages could keep a Bible study group busy for years—Keller also draws ideas from philosophers, theologians, scholars and other authors throughout the meticulously documented text. C.S. Lewis makes frequent appearances, as do St. Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin. This reliance on other sources of authority lends weight to Keller’s arguments but comes at some cost to storytelling. Keller offers occasional anecdotes to illustrate his points, but on paper, his words lack the engaging cadence of the sermons that draw thousands to his church each week. Instead of offering a ready-made answer to the question of how we should pray, he calls on students to do their own work, giving them tons of material on the meaning of prayer before he offers any how-to advice. When instruction does come, it’s not simple but careful, as in Keller’s word-by-word examination of the familiar Lord’s Prayer. For the author, building a solid foundation of understanding is an essential step in the journey toward an enlightened experience of God.

Not always riveting reading, but Keller provides a contextually rich guide and companion to prayer.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0525954149

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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