cover image Wise and Shine: Think Clearly, Live Deeply, Be Someone You Value

Wise and Shine: Think Clearly, Live Deeply, Be Someone You Value

Robert M. Stonehill. Empathy Express, $19.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-0-578-42054-7

Stonehill, a caregiver and self-proclaimed mystic who provides healing workshops in Portland, Ore., promotes inclusion and empathy in his ambitious but muddled debut, a “thinking manual.” Stonehill uses a model of increasingly complex “shapes of thought,” beginning with what he calls “pre-shapes” of void (or nothingness), background (the historical makeup of one’s perspective), and dot (the initial entry point into any inquiry), and then explores binaries (similar to the Hegelian dialectic), which spin off into numerous other “thought shapes” (including triunes, quadrants, helices, onions, and nonlinear matrices). Stonehill centers most of his analysis on such binaries as social identification vs. outsider identity, differentiation vs. integration, and vertical vs. horizontal concepts of spirituality—to challenge readers to be aware of their own perceptual biases and to take on new perspectives of thought. Unfortunately, Stonehill’s quirky humor (as when he arbitrarily names the onion shape “Larry” and the matrix “Donna”) feels forced. He also often gets lost in conversational asides and fails to show how his core message that “your purpose is to help others” logically proceeds from his presentation of thought shapes. Nevertheless, Stonehill displays deep erudition in this haphazard panoply of ideas for developing empathy. Philosophically minded readers looking for something to chew on will find plenty here. [em](BookLife) [/em]