For those who missed the Left Behind books, this Christian eschatological
primer provides a short if not quite enthralling portrait of the Antichrist.
Hitchcock, a pastor and author of Is America in Bible Prophecy? refuses to name
names or indulge in "foolish speculation" about suspects such as Bill Gates and
Lyndon Johnson, but he does detail some identifying characteristics. The
Antichrist will emerge as the leader of a European super-state, impose a peace
settlement on the Israel "and possibly her neighbors," get assassinated and
then resurrected, win the Nobel Peace Prize and be named Time's Man of the
Year; after these triumphs, he will set himself up as God and rule the world.
Without committing to a date, Hitchcock feels that contemporary
developments-the growth of the European Union, Middle East turmoil,
globalization, and new personal surveillance technologies, like sub-cutaneous
computer chips, that could assist the beast in affixing his mark to all
mankind-make it "highly probable" that the Antichrist is "waiting in the
wings." He concludes with an exhortation to accept the real Christ as savior,
not least because believers will be raptured to Heaven before the Antichrist
appears. Hitchcock's account of the End Times, supported by elaborate exegeses
of biblical passages, will be familiar-even canonical-to fundamentalist
readers. But his unimaginative writing (he compares our "shrinking" world to a
polo shirt of his that shrunk in the laundry) will neither inspire the faithful
nor sway the unconverted. (Feb.) CONFUCIANISM: Origins, Beliefs, Practices,
Holy Texts, Sacred Places Jennifer Oldstone-Moore. Oxford, $17.95 (112p) ISBN
0195219082 Oldstone-Moore, a professor at Wittenberg University in
Springfield, Ohio, provides a quick, informative overview of Confucianism,
China's indigenous religious philosophy. Confucianism, she explains, is
somewhat misidentified because it originated centuries before Confucius, who
saw himself as a compiler of the ancient tradition's best wisdom.
Oldstone-Moore does a fine job of explaining the central concept of filial
piety (xiao), which undergirds all human relationships in Confucian philosophy.
She also discusses the interplay of yin and yang and the role of the Five
Phases (fire, wood, water, metal and earth). One chapter explores "sacred
time," including festivals such as the lunar New Year and the importance of the
12-year zodiac cycle; another presents sacred texts, including the Five
Classics. Like the other books in Oxford's series of brief introductions to
various world religions, this one is copiously illustrated with full-color
photographs. The writing can sometimes be dry, but the book is so brief that it
scarcely matters. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.