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Customer Review

on October 12, 1999
One reason why Kaminer's book is so excellent is that she doesn't limit herself to the product of obvious flakes such as Werner Erhard and Shirley MacLaine but also goes after stuff taken seriously by millions of folks who are otherwise intelligent and reasonable -- books such as *The Road Less Traveled* and *People of the Lie*. Kaminer shows how their content, when it's not merely vapid, is wrong or even dangerous.
Here's Kaminer on "discipline" and the power of evil, or rather on their description in *Road* and *Lie*:
"'With total discipline we can solve all problems,' [Peck] promises in the opening pages ... and discipline itself is only a 'system of techniques.' As for evil, it is 'strangely ineffective as a social force,' which would surprise anyone who has even heard of genocide...."
And now more on evil and discipline, from *Lie*. (Yes, evil -- which you'll remember is "strangely ineffective as a social force" and thus perhaps is of less concern to Peck's devotees than to the rest of us.)
"Peck defines evil as 'the unsubmitted will ... it's almost tempting to think that the problem of evil lies in the will itself ..." There are only two states of being: submission to God and goodness or the refusal to submit to anything beyond one's own will -- which refusal automatically enslaves one to the forces of evil. Ultimately, the only good thing you can will is willingness.
"Liberals, romantics, and any student of totalitarianism may find this chilling. There is surely enough recent historical evidence associating submission, not independence of will, with enslavement to evil. In their eagerness to submit, not everyone can distinguish God from the devil."
Bravo Wendy Kaminer! I'm sorry to note that this book is out of print. It should be back in print and continue to be widely available, not merely as a stern corrective to silliness but also as an antidote to the barely hidden danger of much pop psychology and pop religiosity.
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