This book comprises a very good series of essays about the various types of "positive thinking" which have become widespread in the United States, espThis book comprises a very good series of essays about the various types of "positive thinking" which have become widespread in the United States, especially in recent years. The author traces the development of different brands and trends, such as positive psychology, motivational programs, the propserity gospel, pseudoscientific or occult practices (such as The Secret), and so on. She also shows how it influences the lifestyle and behavior of individuals, corporate culture, and even national policy and decisionmaking--in her opinion, all coming together to undermine America.
The book's conclusion is weak (a chapter called "postscript on post-positive thinking") and of course the author can't PROVE that positive thinking is causing America's downfall, but she makes many convincing arguments and does a good job of debunking a lot of flapdoodle. However, I'm not sure what difference her book will make. As she shows in her book, Americans as a whole are notoriously indifferent to "negative" messages (e.g., a 2002 Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper series warning that New Orleans' levees could not withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane) and predictions, so this book's message may fall on deaf ears or appeal only to those who already agree with it.
In fact, when I ordered this book, I knew I would likely concur with the author's position. That certainly was true--she is indeed "preaching to the choir" that I'm in--but I was surprised to learn about many of the roots of these practices and the extent to which they are believed and relied upon. Many of my previous opinions about positive thinking, such as "hm, that doesn't sound right," have been replaced by a very serious concern: "this stuff is downright false and deceptive" and much more dangerous than I knew, especially given its popularity and pervasiveness.
As a Christian myself, I was particularly challenged and concerned by the essay about Christian teachers and churches who assert that "God wants you to be rich." That sounds like good news but it is a completely false "gospel"--certainly not the central Christian message of sin and redemption, which is pushed aside in terms of feel-good platitudes for individuals, fueling greed and consumerism while ignoring real problems in the world and what God might actually be doing.
So, on a personal level, my action step is to share this book with my pastor and other Christian friends, encouraging us to be on the lookout for this false, antiChristian "gospel" in our own community (and my life), but I'm not sure how to disabuse others. Again, people never like to hear bad news. Even if someone's positive philosophy isn't working, he/she may prefer that optimism to any kind of realism (especially if the realistic view of things doesn't hold the promise of extreme riches and self-gratification).
By the way, this isn't a new idea. Here's something from the 6th century BC, in the words of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah:
13 "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace.
Totally engrossing read. Really enjoyed the unforgettable story. It has its flaws (and it screams "THE AUTHOR WENT TO HARVARD!!") but I'm glad I readTotally engrossing read. Really enjoyed the unforgettable story. It has its flaws (and it screams "THE AUTHOR WENT TO HARVARD!!") but I'm glad I read it--couldn't put it down, in fact. I'm also really glad that I knew little about it before I started, other than that it would appeal to adults who love/loved classic fantasy books like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Oz, Edward Eager, etc. As often happens, the dust jacket flap gives away far too much plot! (So do many reviews.) If you haven't read it yet, but are intrigued by the basic idea, give it a try, but DON'T find out too much about it first. I think being surprised will add a lot to the story. The gist is: a nerdy high school senior, who has always loved the Fillory stories (Narnia-esque), finds out that magic is real, but not in the wonderful storybook way one would desire. ...more
I know a lot of people are still waiting to get a copy from their library. (Don't worry, I'll turn mine in on Tuesday and it will probably go to one oI know a lot of people are still waiting to get a copy from their library. (Don't worry, I'll turn mine in on Tuesday and it will probably go to one of you!) So I don't think it's time for a review yet--I'd hate to spoil anything for anyone. Five stars shouldn't surprise anybody; this book is worth reading, of course! Just as _Return of the King_ is worth reading....more
An exciting science fiction story, but very confusing and hard to picture. Maybe my imagination isn't what it used to be, since I had trouble understaAn exciting science fiction story, but very confusing and hard to picture. Maybe my imagination isn't what it used to be, since I had trouble understanding what was happening or envisioning the various settings. ...more
Good protagonist, realistic story, not too funny or dramatic, quick to read. The strict parents remain likeable and readers see the good thiLiked it!
Good protagonist, realistic story, not too funny or dramatic, quick to read. The strict parents remain likeable and readers see the good things about their stable and loving home, while still sympathizing with the daughter's frustrations about fitting in or experiencing "normal" teen life.
The book is set in the early 1990s. If readers don't notice the date references, they'll wonder why Nina isn't texting, emailing, or using an iPod. Are they yet more things her strict parents have banned? No--they would merely be anachronisms. Makes me wonder if the book belongs in "historical fiction" because some aspects of teen life have changed so fast. But lots of things about teen life are just the same. Nina obsesses about her crush by watching him after class--isn't that just like stalking him online?...more
A good story to read when your Japanese culture storytime for ages 5-10 ends up being attended by junior highers instead!
This is a version of one of tA good story to read when your Japanese culture storytime for ages 5-10 ends up being attended by junior highers instead!
This is a version of one of the first Japanese stories I ever read, from my parents' small book of Japanese Fairy Tales. When, as a little girl, I saw that book on their shelf, I thought to myself, "Fairy tales are for children! That must be a book for me!" I will never forget reading the story for the first time. It's pretty scary!
This version isn't too graphic as far as illustrations go, but it's still a bit of a spooky story!...more
In Hopkins' story, an assortment of teen protagonists follow fairly plausible paths to prostitution. It's difficulThis is really hard subject matter.
In Hopkins' story, an assortment of teen protagonists follow fairly plausible paths to prostitution. It's difficult to identify the "point of no return" in most of the characters' lives.
It's terrifying, really.
An author's note on the last page offers a tiny bit of encouragement and information on how to start the path out of teen prostitution. She includes the hotline phone number for Children of the Night, an organization which provides an array of rescue, aftercare, rehabilitation, and legal services for underage prostitutes....more
Plausible speculative fiction about a not-too-distant future in which a woman escapes a dystopian urban society to search for a (utopian?) female coopPlausible speculative fiction about a not-too-distant future in which a woman escapes a dystopian urban society to search for a (utopian?) female cooperative in the English countryside. Quick, intense, realistic, but more interesting to me for the potential scenario that it depicts than for its actual storyline or characters. ...more
An appalling tale, told in an unusual style, about a valuable and important teenager who overcomes terrible hardships and begins to find ways to dealAn appalling tale, told in an unusual style, about a valuable and important teenager who overcomes terrible hardships and begins to find ways to deal positively with the abuse and oppression she has faced ever since birth. The author has a couple obvious agendas to "push" in this fictitious account and rushes the story to its end, but her character Precious is vibrant and appealing, becoming an exemplary survivor who pushes for a better life. She pushes herself, she pushes the flawed system, and she pushes past what has gone before as she becomes a healthy person, a caring mother, and a kind friend.
You should only read this book if you think you'll be OK with reading explicit details of all sorts of abuse, for Precious's words and descriptions will stick with you for a long time. And you will wonder if you are seeing Precious and her friends and family when you walk down the street or drive through the city. ...more