A manual for millennials that functions mainly as an apologetics playbook.

READ REVIEW

THE AUTHENTIC LIFE

A GUIDEBOOK FOR MILLENNIALS

A Christian cosmology focuses on millennials.

Shane (Millennial Economics, 2013) begins his wide-ranging new book by asking some of the oldest questions humans regularly pose: Why is there so much evil in the world? Why can’t we replace it with good? Aiming his discussion squarely at millennials, who will constitute almost a third of the globe’s population by 2020, he asks: “Do you millennials want to change the world?” The main obstacle to this goal, according to the author, is the “matrix,” a concept he adapts from the 1999 cult film. Shane’s idea of the matrix aligns closely with the Pythagorean concept of the cosmos—the totality of the universe as it connects organically with humans. The author draws comparisons between complex life and dust, linking “fallen” humanity to the “stability” of dust rather than the divine “instability” of life. He asserts that the matrix favors dust and draws human nature to violence and destruction. Shane emphasizes that millennials face a choice between being authentic and being counterfeit, with the former lining up with a faith in Jesus. Recognizing that evangelizing to millennials must involve science, the author then spends the bulk of the book attempting to find that discipline in Christian Scriptures, talking about the laws of thermodynamics and the allegedly anthropological predilection of the universe. Continually preaching that God is in a position to refresh the language of modern-day science, Shane ultimately urges millennials to humble themselves before their Creator. Encouraging millennials to embrace greater authenticity in their lives is a worthwhile pursuit, and the author takes an invitingly lively tone throughout. But he frequently misleads his readers by smuggling Christian presuppositions and standard straw-man apologetics into his attempts to link science and faith. “The probability of finding dust in the universe is orders of magnitude higher than the probability of finding complex life,” Shane writes, even though scientists cannot precisely calculate the probability of discovering complex alien life in the cosmos. “Who was it who input the cascades of quantum events that rearranged patterns of atoms into complex molecules?” he asks, presupposing that such a being exists. Solomon may have written the book of Ecclesiastes, Shane asserts without evidence, “but we know its true Author to be the Triune God.” Atheists, the author sweepingly argues, “have a jaundiced view of truth in general.” Are scientists really willing, he illogically asks, to continue “lending their support” to the idea that the universe has no God? Shane writes clearly and intelligently about the various classical treatises on these subjects by such writers as St. Augustine. But he also comes out with absurdities, including his observation that miracles do not violate natural laws. The result is a guide that millennials should recognize for what it is: straight-up fundamentalist preaching.

A manual for millennials that functions mainly as an apologetics playbook.

Pub Date: March 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-7840-3

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

THE ROAD TO CHARACTER

New York Times columnist Brooks (The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, 2011, etc.) returns with another volume that walks the thin line between self-help and cultural criticism.

Sandwiched between his introduction and conclusion are eight chapters that profile exemplars (Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne are textual roommates) whose lives can, in Brooks’ view, show us the light. Given the author’s conservative bent in his column, readers may be surprised to discover that his cast includes some notable leftists, including Frances Perkins, Dorothy Day, and A. Philip Randolph. (Also included are Gens. Eisenhower and Marshall, Augustine, and George Eliot.) Throughout the book, Brooks’ pattern is fairly consistent: he sketches each individual’s life, highlighting struggles won and weaknesses overcome (or not), and extracts lessons for the rest of us. In general, he celebrates hard work, humility, self-effacement, and devotion to a true vocation. Early in his text, he adapts the “Adam I and Adam II” construction from the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Adam I being the more external, career-driven human, Adam II the one who “wants to have a serene inner character.” At times, this veers near the Devil Bugs Bunny and Angel Bugs that sit on the cartoon character’s shoulders at critical moments. Brooks liberally seasons the narrative with many allusions to history, philosophy, and literature. Viktor Frankl, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Tillich, William and Henry James, Matthew Arnold, Virginia Woolf—these are but a few who pop up. Although Brooks goes after the selfie generation, he does so in a fairly nuanced way, noting that it was really the World War II Greatest Generation who started the ball rolling. He is careful to emphasize that no one—even those he profiles—is anywhere near flawless.

The author’s sincere sermon—at times analytical, at times hortatory—remains a hopeful one.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9325-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more