Book Reviews

What to do after retirement? Read and review books. All kinds of books.


 Heretic  bbook  Our Souls at Night haruf  reality

 

 Below is a list of reviews by Bob Lanebob_books_thumb.jpg
Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Religious Studies
Vancouver Island University

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Professional Reader


Review: Why I Left, Why I Stayed: Conversation on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son

By Tony Campolo and Bart Campolo with a foreword by Peggy Campolo

HarperCollins 2017

 

Review by Bob Lane

We certainly do not need to be reminded that history is filled with so called religious wars. In fact there are long lists available on social media (e.g., here) and, of course, there is an ongoing debate about just what contribution religion makes to our warlike history. William T. Cavanaugh in his Myth of Religious Violence (2009) argues that what is termed “religious wars” is a largely “Western dichotomy” and a modern invention, arguing that all wars that are classed as “religious” have secular (economic or political) ramifications. Similar opinions were expressed as early as the 1760s, during the Seven Years’ War, widely recognized to be “religious” in motivation, noting that the warring factions were not necessarily split along confessional lines as much as along secular interests. However anyone who has served in the military during wartime is aware that the chaplain is used as a motivator for getting the troops to sacrifice their lives for God and country (whichever God or country is at play).

 

The “war” in this book is between a father and a son, or between evangelical Christianity and secular humanism, and one of its virtues is that no one gets wounded or killed, unlike every other war in history. Instead it exhibits a loving discussion between two relatives displayed in twenty-one chapters and a joint conclusion – with no winner or loser, and with each holding the same beliefs at the end of the book as at the beginning: “what neither of us believes, however, is that the other is a fool. As we said at the beginning, while we come to it differently, each of us always reaches the same conclusion about this life: Love is the most excellent way.”

In those chapters we learn of how the son, Bart, is “deconverted” from the evangelical Christian belief system to secular humanism. And how the father, Tony, remains steadfast in his faith. What is not in these chapters, however, is any real philosophical discussion of truth or evidence. Each seems to feel a certain way about the world and the world of the spirits and gods. Although there is mention of Truth, especially by Tony, there is a lack of a discussion of what truth is. “Truth” like so many other terms, is not clear and unambiguous because we use the term in many different ways: there’s capital T Truth and there is small t truth.

Capital T truth often finds its home in certain kinds of texts, most often those called scripture by those who are insiders in a particular group. Religious Truths, political Truths, are the sorts of claims I have in mind. They are proclamations, articles of faith, rules of the game.

  • The free market is the only way to economic nirvana.
  • God is love.
  • God is peace.
  • Three strikes and you are out.
  • There are three downs in real football.
  • On Easter Christ rose from the dead.

Small t truth is quite different. It never parades as fixed and eternal, but is more modest. It is quite clear about its function in a sentence and disappears as soon as possible once its job is done.

  • It is true that there are 4 beer in the refrigerator.
  • “It is raining” is true if and only if it is raining.
  • Evolution is true.
  • Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
  • It is true that the NFL and the CFL have different rules.

Notice the first set is made up of proclamations. These capital T statements are constitutive rules of the language game they establish. They really are not true or false, but are just True by definition of the game. Notice the absurdity of a baseball player trying to argue with the umpire that he should be allowed four strikes. Or a Christian who doesn’t believe in the resurrection. Small case true is a relational term – it claims a relationship between a statement and a state of affairs.

Capital T TRUTH is always delivered with certainty. Small case truth is more modest. It attempts to say what is, but can be emended if someone has drunk some of the beer.

Certainty tells us about the speaker’s state of mind and not about a state of affairs. Certainty is demonic.

Mark Twain gets it right: We are always hearing of people who are around seeking after the Truth. I have never seen a (permanent) specimen. I think he has never lived. But I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after the Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment- until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather.

Tony is certain in his faith. Christianity is True. Bart has read the Old Testament and the New Testament carefully and has noticed the problems therein. He no longer believes in True. He cannot commit to the faith required to continue in the “congregation of believers” but does not want to give up on the community of humans who are helped by those humanists and others who believe in helping others. And just as importantly he does not want to destroy anyone for his or her beliefs. Reason is trumped by love in this relationship. Tony tells us that the Gospel “has been set forth impossible to understand in purely rational terms on purpose” as an explanation for the inconsistencies that Bart has discovered. Bart, at one point in the conversation, tells us that “none of us really chooses what we believe” and later that “faith is a choice.”

At every time in our violent history, we humans could benefit from more love, more concern for others, more ways of getting along. But instead we continue to talk of “fire and fury” and remain in a constant state of “lock and load”. This book offers some notion of what that love might be like.

 

 

Bob Lane is an emeritus professor of philosophy and religious studies at Vancouver Island University.

 

 

 

 


 

Review – Thomas S. Szasz: The Man and His Ideas
by Jeffrey A. Schaler, Henry Zvi Lothane, and Richard E. Vatz (Editors)
Routledge, 2017

Review by Bob Lane
Aug 13th 2017 (Volume 21, Issue 32)

Have an interest in “mental illness”? Or, perhaps the mind/body problem as articulated in Cartesianism? Or, philosophy of language – if we can name it does that mean it exists? Or, nominalism/idealism questions – do abstract objects exist? Or, how about Russell’s teapot – Russell’s teapot was an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, to refute the idea that the onus lies somehow upon the sceptic to disprove the unfalsifiable claims of religion or any scientific or philosophic endeavour? Or, mental illness in general – does it exist? If so, just what is it? Or, free will/determinism? Or, is there a pill for every abnormal condition in the human condition? What is the nature of addiction? Cults? Aeschylus and schizophrenia? Philosophy of mind? Interdisciplinary studies? Neroscience? Psychiatry? Interested in knowing more about Thomas Szasz? All of the above? Any of the above?

 

 


Review – Be Like the Fox
Machiavelli In His World
by Erica Benner
W. W. Norton, 2017
Review by Bob Lane, MA
Jul 13th 2017 (Volume 21, Issue 28)

Anyone who teaches political philosophy knows the joy of reading and teaching The Prince by Machiavelli.

Read the review.

 

 


Title: No Place to Hide
Author: Jack Slater
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Review by Bob Lane
A house fire. A suspicious death. A serial killer to catch.
When a body is found in a house fire DS Peter Gayle is called to the scene. It looks like an accidental death, but the evidence just doesn’t add up.
With only one murder victim they can’t make any calls, but it looks like a serial killer is operating in Exeter and it’s up to Pete to track him down.
But with his wife still desperate for news on their missing son and his boss watching his every move, the pressure is on for Pete to bring the murderer to justice before it is too late.

Read the review here.

Bob Lane is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Vancouver Island University.

 


Speech Matters
On Lying, Morality, and the LawSpeech Matters by Seana Valentine Shiffrin
By Seana Valentine Shiffrin
Review by Bob Lane on Tue, May 9th 2017.
    Long before I studied philosophy my father taught me a profound lesson about speech. He was a proponent of the old     observation that one should “say what you mean and mean what you say”. One day as he left for work he asked me, a boy of six, to pick up some trash from the back yard. “I will, Daddy!” said I with enthusiasm. Upon returning that evening he asked if I had completed my chore. Having completely forgotten about my promise, I nevertheless responded “Oh, yes, Daddy!” not even considering that he would have seen the back yard when he drove his pickup into the back. “Good boy,” he said.
Click here to read the full review!


Review – Looking for The Stranger Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic by Alice Kaplan University Of Chicago Press, 2016 Review by Bob Lane Mar 14th 2017 (Volume 21, Issue 11)

We are in the midst of an ongoing Camus renaissance, one traced by Matthew Sharpe in his book Camus, Philosophe: To Return to Our Beginnings to four causes: The publication in 1994 of Camus’ Le Premier Homme, a true literary event; the fall of Stalinism; the war on terror; and the decline of the hegemony of post-modernism and post-structuralism with academia. We are blessed with many recent books on Camus [Sharpe produces an exhaustive survey of the recent secondary literature on Camus, heavily footnoted and annotated] and his works have continued to be a resource for philosophical inquiry even as his literary works have continued to be read and written about — or responded to as in the case of Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation which considers the same killing on the beach but from the Arab victim’s point of view.

Read the review.

 


Review – What Is a Human?
What the Answers Mean for Human Rights
by John H. Evans
Oxford University Pres, 2016
Review by Bob Lane
Feb 21st 2017 (Volume 21, Issue 8)human

Without a doubt the answer to the question ‘What is a human?’ has been a long term and ongoing project — perhaps as old as human life here on this planet. The question, simple in form and a mere four words long has been the center of attention for religion, philosophy, and the sciences for as long as those disciplines have been around.

And now Oxford Press presents this social science study addressing the question, in a book rich with survey data and analysis of two main concerns: What is a Human? And what might the answers mean for human rights? In eight chapters and several appendices, notes, citations, and index, John H. Evans presents a report on “a sociological research project” which will NOT attempt to argue for a correct answer to the main question but will tell the reader what the public thinks a human is.

Read the review.


 

What kind of person should I strive to be? What ideals should I pursue in my life?enlighten

These basic human questions and others like them are components of the overall question that guides this book: What is enlightenment? As Dale Wright argues, any serious practitioner of human life, religious or not, confronts the challenge of living an authentic life, of overcoming common human disabilities like greed, hatred, and delusion that give rise to excessive suffering. Why then, Wright asks, is this essential question often avoided, even discouraged among Buddhists?

Read the review.

 

 


petReview – Prime Ministers of Canada
Pierre Elliott Trudeau
by Paula Johanson
Five Rivers Chapmanry, 2016
Review by Bob Lane, MA
Dec 13th 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 50)

Read the review.

 

 


 

toleranceTolerance Among The Virtues
by John R. Bowlin
Nov 22nd 2016

 

 

 

 


rundownRun Down
A Pratt & Ellis Mystery
by Rick Blechta
Oct 18th 2016

 

 

 


fnThe Making of Friedrich Nietzsche
The Quest for Identity, 1844-1869
by Daniel Blue
Sep 20th 2016

 

 

 


 

“Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People”guns
And Other Myths About Guns and Gun Control
by Dennis A. Henigan
Sep 6th 2016

 

 

 


 

Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogueislam
by Sam Harris and Maajud Nawaz
Aug 2nd 2016

 

 

 

 


Old Age
A Beginner’s GuideOld
by Michael Kinsley
on May 26th 2016

 

 

 


Fine LinesFL
Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art
by Stephen H Blackwell and Kurt Johnson (Editors)
on May 17th 2016

 

 


old

How to Grow Old
Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life
by Marcus Tullius Cicero
May 10th 2016

 

 


Ethical Life
Its Natural and Social Historiesethical
by Webb Keane
Mar 22nd 2016

 

 


City of the Lostlost
A Thriller
by Kelley Armstrong
Feb 16th 2016

 


Rousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity r
by Mark Hulliung (Editor)
Dec 22nd 2015

 

 


HereticHeretic
Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Dec 1st 2015

 

 


SoulsOur Souls at Night
A Novel
by Kent Haruf
Oct 20th 2015

 

 


Benedictionharuf
A Novel
by Kent Haruf
Oct 6th 2015

 

 


Caught
The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politicscaught
by Marie Gottschalk
Aug 11th 2015

 

 


God and the Multiversemap_heavens
Humanity’s Expanding View of the Cosmos
by Victor J. Stenger
Jun 30th 2015

 

 


Critical ConditionCritical
Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity
by Patrick Finn
Apr 21st 2015

 


Neurobiology and the Development of Human Moralityneuro
Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom
by Darcia Narvaez
on Mar 17th 2015

 

 


love

Understanding Love
Philosophy, Film, and Fiction
by Susan Wolf and Christopher Grau (Editors)
Feb 24th 2015

 


self.jpg

The Core Question: Who Am I?
A Reflective Journey Into Uncovering Your Authentic Self
by Mark Julian Zyga
on Feb 17th 2015

 


reality

The Magic of Reality
How We Know What’s Really True
by Richard Dawkins
on Jan 27th 2015

 


time_e

 

The Firmament of Time
by Loren Eiseley
on Dec 2nd 2014

 


moral_ima

Moral Imagination
Essays
by David Bromwich
on Nov 25th 2014

 


The Star Throwerstar-thrower
by Loren Eiseley
on Nov 4th 2014

 

 


 

Behind the Gospelsgospels
Understanding the Oral Tradition
by Eric Eve
on Oct 21st 2014

 

 


Kicking the Skykicking
A Novel
by Anthony De Sa
on Oct 14th 2014

 

 

 


changes

Changes
Stories
by Robin Molineux
on Sep 30th 2014

 

 

 


Bob Dylan and Phbobdylanilosophy
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Thinking)
by Peter Vernezze and Carl Porter (Editors)
on Sep 9th 2014

 

 

 


zealot

Zealot
The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
by Reza Aslan
on Jul 29th 2013

 


sb

 

Steel Breeze
by Douglas Wynne
on Jul 23rd 2013

 

 


weak

 

Weakness
A Literary and Philosophical History
by Michael O’Sullivan
on Jul 9th 2013

 


c_p

Crime and Punishment in America
Revised Edition
by Elliott Currie
on Apr 9th 2013

 


ask

 

Art, Self and Knowledge
by Keith Lehrer
on May 1st 2012

 

 


Hemingway’s Second Warhem_war
Bearing Witness to the Spanish Civil War
by Alex Vernon
on Apr 17th 2012

 

 


50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True50
by Guy P. Harrison
on Mar 20th 2012

 

 


The Three Failures of Creationism3
Logic, Rhetoric, and Science
by Walter M. Fitch
on Mar 13th 2012

 

 


From Neurons to Self-Consciousnessneurons
How the Brain Generates the Mind
by Bernard Korzeniewski
on Feb 21st 2012

 

 


America in the Forties40s
by Ronald Allen Goldberg
on Jan 31st 2012

 

 


confu

 

Confucianism
by Paul R. Goldin
on Jan 17th 2012

 


hess

Camp Z
The Secret Life of Rudolf Hess
by Stephen McGinty
on Jan 10th 2012

 


bang

Bang!
How We Came to Be
by Michael Rubino
on Dec 20th 2011


wj

The Essential William James
by John R. Shook (Editor)
on Dec 13th 2011

 


moral

Moral Acquaintances and Moral Decisions
Resolving Moral Conflicts in Medical Ethics
by Stephen S. Hanson
on Nov 8th 2011

 


 

Power Splitpower
A Philosophical Thriller
by W. Ron Drynan
on Oct 25th 2011

 

 


The Philosophical Breakfast Clubbclub
Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World
by Laura J. Snyder
on Sep 20th 2011

 

 


The Wolves of Andoverwolves
by Kathleen Kent
on Sep 6th 2011

 

 


Idiot Americaidiot
How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
by Charles P. Pierce
Aug 16th 2011

 

 


 

Darwin, God and the Meaning of Lifedgm
How Evolutionary Theory Undermines Everything You Thought You Knew
by Steve Stewart-Williams
on Aug 9th 2011

 

 


cleoCleopatra
A Life
by Stacy Schiff
on Jul 26th 2011

 

 


korea

 

Unforgettable
DVD
by Tom Kleesiep (Writer/Producer/Director)
on Jun 7th 2011

 


dogs

Through A Dog’s Eyes
DVD
by Naomi S. Boak (Director)
on May 9th 2011

 

 


galileo

 

Galileo
by John Heilbron
on Apr 5th 2011

 

 


 

childrenConsuming Innocence
Popular Culture and Our Children
by Karen Brooks
on Mar 15th 2011

 

 

 


Out of Edeneden
Adam and Eve and the Problem of Evil
by Paul W. Kahn
on Feb 22nd 2011

 

 

 


Giftedgifted
A Novel
by Nikita Lalwani
on Nov 30th 2010

 

 

 


Thinking of Answersanswers
Questions in the Philosophy of Everyday Life
by A. C. Grayling
on Nov 9th 2010

 

 

 


William Blake on Self and Soulblake
by Laura Quinney
on Sep 14th 2010

 

 

 

 


The Burden of Proofproof
by Scott Turow
on Aug 31st 2010

 

 

 

 


artsWhat Good Are the Arts?
by John Carey
on Aug 17th 2010

 

 

 

 


persons

 

Persons
What Philosophers Say about You
by Warren Bourgeois
Jul 13th 2010

 

 


cheever

 

Cheever
A Life
by Blake Bailey
on Jun 22nd 2010

 


void

 

Void Moon
by Michael Connelly
on May 11th 2010

 

 

 


james

 

William James on Ethics and Faith
by Michael R. Slater
on Mar 23rd 2010

 

 

 


Once You Go Back
A Novel
by Douglas A. Martin
on Mar 2nd 2010

Transformative Yoga
The Five Keys to Unlocking Inner Bliss
by Wade Imre Morissette
on Jan 5th 2010

The Lives of the Brain
Human Evolution and the Organ of Mind
by John S. Allen
on Jan 5th 2010

The Right Mistake
The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow
by Walter Mosley
on Dec 15th 2009

The New Atheism
Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
by Victor J. Stenger
on Nov 17th 2009

Cemetery Dance
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Oct 20th 2009

Darwin’s Universe
Evolution from A to Z
by Richard Milner
Oct 6th 2009

Women’s Murder Club Box Set
Volume 2
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
on Sep 1st 2009

The Boy Who Dared
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
on Jul 21st 2009

The Story Is True
The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories
by Bruce Jackson
on Jun 9th 2009

Run for Your Life
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
on Jun 2nd 2009

The Whole Truth
by David Baldacci
Apr 7th 2009

The Tenth Justice
by Brad Meltzer
on Mar 10th 2009

The Stone Gods
by Jeanette Winterson
on Mar 5th 2009

Pragmatism
A Guide for the Perplexed
by Robert B. Talisse and Scott F. Aikin
Feb 24th 2009

Dead Even
by Brad Meltzer
Feb 17th 2009

Divine Justice
by David Baldacci
on Feb 3rd 2009

Reason & Emancipation
Essays on the Philosophy of Kai Nielsen
by Michel Seymour and Matthias Fritsch (Editors)
Jan 27th 2009

The Modern Art of Dying
A History of Euthanasia in the United States
by Shai J. Lavi
on Jan 13th 2009

Feminist Philosophy And Science Fiction
Utopias And Dystopias
by Judith A. Little (Editor)
on Jan 6th 2009

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness
by Daniel Amen
on Dec 16th 2008

Shakespeare
A Life in Seven Chapters
by Edward S. Brubaker
Nov 25th 2008

Mill’s Utilitarianism
A Reader’s Guide
by Henry R. West
on Nov 4th 2008

Persons and Things
by Barbara Johnson
on Oct 14th 2008

Plato
A Guide for the Perplexed
by Gerald A. Press
on Oct 7th 2008

Einstein and Oppenheimer
The Meaning of Genius
by Silvan S. Schweber
on Sep 23rd 2008

Science and Nonbelief
by Taner Edis
on Sep 16th 2008

Notebooks 1951-1959
by Albert Camus
on Sep 2nd 2008

Black Elk Speaks
by John G. Neihardt
on Aug 19th 2008

Undermining Science
Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration
by Seth Shulman
on Jul 29th 2008

Child 44
by Tom Rob Smith
on Jun 17th 2008

Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs
Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures
by Myint Swe Khine (Editor)
on Jun 3rd 2008

Compulsion
An Alex Delaware Novel
by Jonathan Kellerman
May 27th 2008

The Calling
A Novel
by Inger Ash Wolfe
May 20th 2008

First Do No Harm
Law, Ethics, And Healthcare
by Sheila A. M. Mclean (Editor)
Apr 29th 2008

God: The Failed Hypothesis
How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
by Victor J Stenger
on Apr 15th 2008

The Meaning of Others
Narrative Studies of Relationships
by Ruthellen Josselson, Amia Lieblich, and Dan P. McAdams (Editors)
on Mar 25th 2008

The Woman and the Ape
A Novel
by Peter Hoeg
on Mar 11th 2008

Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion
by Francisco Ayala
Jan 22nd 2008

The Search for Meaning
A Short History
by Dennis Ford
Jan 1st 2008

The Extinction of Desire
A Tale of Enlightenment
by Michael Boylan
on Nov 27th 2007

Presocratics
Natural Philosophers Before Socrates
by James Warren
Nov 6th 2007

Einstein
His Life and Universe
by Walter Isaacson
Oct 30th 2007

Divisadero
by Michael Ondaatje
Sep 25th 2007

Blind Spots
Why Smart People Do Dumb Things
by Madeleine L. Van Hecke
Sep 18th 2007

The Top 10 Myths About Evolution
by Cameron M. Smith and Charles Sullivan
Aug 21st 2007

The Ministry of Special Cases
A Novel
by Nathan Englander
Jul 31st 2007

The Decency Wars
Campaign to Cleanse American Culture
by Frederick S. Lane
Jul 24th 2007

The Castle in the Forest
A Novel
by Norman Mailer
Jul 17th 2007

Scandalous Knowledge
Science, Truth, and the Human
by Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Jul 3rd 2007

Pathways to Spirituality
Connection, Wholeness, and Possibility for Therapist and Client
by Bill O’Hanlon
Jun 12th 2007

Sartre
A Guide for the Perplexed
by Gary Cox
May 29th 2007

Across the River and Into the Trees
by Ernest Hemingway
May 8th 2007

Don’t Believe Everything You Think
The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
by Thomas E. Kida
May 1st 2007

Books

Books

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