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How to bury the lead in an otherwise hopeful book
on December 14, 2006
This won't be a popular review because it will go against the flood of praises. Actually, I wanted to like this book. I came to it with very high hopes only to be greatly disappointed and even somewhat irritated. Despite its enormous popularity, I have difficulty recommending this book because it buries one of its main agendas in the later chapters, and that agenda undercuts the value of the whole.
I intend no negative comments against the author, and certainly, the 12 chapters have useful information. I especially liked the Pain to Power chart concept in chapter 3, and there are other useful things as well, especially in the first 7 or 8 chapters.
However, starting on page 154 (chapter 9) the book begins a gradual descent into a hazy cave of vagueness in which metaphysics, the universe, fate, life, intuition, the Laws of Universal Energy, and other such things emerge as if living entities. Actually, a good summary of the book's solution to fear is this: "With the Law of Universal Energy on your side, you can learn to trust not only the universe, but yourself." (p. 196) Further, the author states outright a goal to "whet your appetite, so you will be eager to learn more. I urge you to look at the laws of the universe as postulated by metaphysicians." Instead of hiding this on p. 204, this statement should have been on p 1.
If you're into all the metaphysical stuff, you'll probably love this book. If you're not, you might have trouble with it, like I did. When I started the book, I was eager to learn. By the end, reading statements like the following, I was eager to get to another book:
"The way I use the word [spiritual] will be acceptable to you whether you are religious or an atheist" (p 191). Also, "For those of you who are religious and/or believe in God, you will see how these ideas can be incorporated in your beliefs. And, as I said, earlier, if you don't believe in God, these laws apply as well" (p 205).
At best, these statements show a bit of naiveté; at worst, they are an attack on one's intelligence. The word "spiritual" is defined as little different from "emotional," and the attempt to be all things to all people by essentially claiming that whether one is an atheist or a theist of some sort will be irrelevant to "the Law of Universal Energy" is not only annoying, it is almost incomprehensible.
Had I known the last 4 chapters were going to ground all of the "get over your fears" in the metaphysical stuff, I would not have bought or read the book. It seemed to me a back-handed way to drag people into dubious philosophy. For me, it's a deal-killer.