An erudite discussion both profoundly sympathetic and richly analytical.



A simultaneously scholarly and deeply personal analysis of evangelical communities in America.

Luhrmann (Anthropology/Stanford Univ.; Of Two Minds: An Anthropologist Looks at American Psychiatry, 2000) entered the Vineyard Christian Fellowship openly—declaring herself an anthropologist who wanted to understand the evangelical way and mind—and she was both welcomed and eventually somewhat transformed. Near the end, Lurhmann writes that although she’s not sure she’d call herself a Christian, she has “come to know God.” She begins by describing the current evangelical movement—how widespread it is, how God has become an intimate friend rather than a harsh judge and how evangelicals largely avoid theodicy. She sketches the history of the Vineyard and attributes to the 1960s counterculture some of the spiritual energy that animates the evangelical movement. As the title suggests, the author devotes much of her discussion to the conversation between believers and their God, a conversation facilitated by specific techniques of prayer. She spends many pages talking about the problem of hearing God’s voice and attempts to cover all bases. For example, she includes major passages about the long history of the phenomenon, schizophreniaand skeptics’ reservations and disdain. Lurhmann underwent extensive prayer training, and her research is substantial—years of commitment, countless interviews, extensive endnotes and a vast bibliography. She accords deep respect for those whose religious experiences are scientifically unverifiable, and she concludes that evangelicals have, to a great extent, reprogrammed their brains and that they and skeptics live in alternate universes. One topic she does not raise: the economics of the movement. Who’s getting rich in the evangelical world? Does it matter?

An erudite discussion both profoundly sympathetic and richly analytical.

Pub Date: March 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26479-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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 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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