Contemplative biblical tales with rough-hewn drawings for readers young and old.


Parables of Jesus and John the Baptizer


An updated, fully illustrated guide to biblical parables that distills a wide range of perplexing morals.

Schenck (Priests and Warriors, 2013, etc.) translated parables from Koine Greek for the first edition of this book in 1990 and he’s enhanced these biblical stories with full-color illustrations for this 25th anniversary edition. Each story, often only a page or two long, offers a succinct parable with a spiritual lesson. Many supply straightforward advice that may be interpreted in religious and secular ways; for example, the parable of the 10 virgins in the Book of Matthew teaches that one should always be prepared because one knows “neither the day—nor the hour” that things may happen, including passage into heaven. An appendix provides a glossary of terms from the original Greek, such as “korkous” (a unit of measure) and “talent” (a type of coin). The final section offers an overview of Schenck’s previous works, including his in-depth analysis of the Gnostic Gospels. God, as depicted in these biblical parables, oscillates between anger and reassurance, smiting or soothing his people as they attempt to live according to his ways. A few recognizable parables give well-known stories new emotional depth, such as the tale of the prodigal son that ends with a bold confrontation between a father and his elder child who stayed at home. Other parables address topics fit for ethical debate, such as the implications of equally forgiving debtors who owe vastly different amounts. Although each story ends with a moral, their ambiguity leaves much room for philosophizing. At one point, for example, God casts out a useless slave for lacking faith that God will help him make money. The unclear resolution (“for everyone who has, more will be given...he who does not have, even that which he does have, will also be taken from him”) may cause readers to wonder about the cause of God’s anger. The enlarged text also features hand-drawn illustrations that call to mind coloring book depictions. Overall, these fablelike stories may serve as an introduction for young readers to biblical lessons or as an aid to spiritual rumination for older ones.

Contemplative biblical tales with rough-hewn drawings for readers young and old.

Pub Date: April 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1511564632

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2015

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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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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