A captivating account of Christianity hampered by dogmatic rhetoric.

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THE CHURCH IN ECLIPSE

RESTORING THE LIGHT

A writer seeks to restore a rationally defensible interpretation of Christianity and re-establish its much-needed authority. 

According to Shane (The Authentic Life, 2017, etc.), the world has been thrown into disarray by “unprecedented upheavals” and now “seems to be sliding closer and closer to the abyss of some primeval darkness.” Moral turpitude, avarice, war, and the wanton depletion of Earth’s resources engulf people, but the Christian church, the only institution capable of saving humanity from itself, is addled by a loss of authority and purpose. The author sees “muddled views” and “false doctrines” as the primary obstacles to a rejuvenation of the church’s power, and so this book is devoted to debunking them. Shane tackles this daunting task from three angles: confusion regarding the nature of the created world; the strategic plan God has mapped out for humankind; and the meaning of Christian eschatology. In the first section, the author criticizes Christianity for its “disinterest in science,” especially contemptible since God created a rational and therefore knowable universe. He argues that a proper conception of biblical Creation and Darwinian evolution demonstrates their compatibility. In the second part, Shane articulates the fundamental elements of God’s plan for humanity—to enjoy a loving and eternal bond with him, a scheme that was stewarded by Abraham and Jesus after Adam and Eve soiled it with sin. The author carefully explains the roles of both Israel and the United States in the progressive unfolding of God’s divine program. Finally, Shane objects to the passive fatalism that issues from the unbiblical view of a cataclysmic rapture and instead argues that humanity can look forward to a deliverance from sin and godlessness. The author’s interpretation of Christianity boldly advocates for a rational theology that makes its peace with science—he rigorously argues for a détente that presupposes a deeper vision of both. In addition, his version of Christianity is a refreshingly hopeful one, replacing doomsday readings of prophecy that undermine human agency with an optimistic understanding of salvation that empowers and ennobles it. But he never quite makes it clear why this is the worst of times, an argument he should have to make given the popularity of the opposite view, espoused by famous writers and scholars like Steven Pinker. In addition, while Shane acknowledges that not all of the Bible can be read literally, he refuses to concede that this can lead to variant exegetical renderings arrived at by an equal measure of rational good faith. As a result, the tone of the entire work is gratingly peremptory—the author has little patience for dissent: “Darwin did not create the geological column or the fossil record, God did! What scientists call ‘evolution’ is nothing more than the creative economy of God at work in the natural realm. If scientists want to call it ‘evolution’ that’s fine with us.” 

A captivating account of Christianity hampered by dogmatic rhetoric.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 225

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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