Title: God’s Labyrinth of Good and Evil: Encountering the Self
Author: Maria Liviero
Genre: Nonfiction / Self-help
In God’s Labyrinth of Good and Evil: Encountering the Self, Maria Liviero uses Genesis 1-3, the creation story from the Bible, as a basis for explaining why we have negative behaviors that impact our better selves and how to overcome them. The symbols and themes in the Genesis narrative serve as starting points for the exploration of the dark self versus the light self within us all, which is represented by a character named Eve in this self-help book. The author dives deep into the battle that rages in everyone and explains how this narrative is threaded throughout history and humanity, universally.
Liviero’s choice to employ the well-known Genesis creation story and the fall of humanity is a unique one for explaining our negative behaviors and how to better ourselves. No doubt, the temptation of Adam and Eve to explain sin and all range of evils in the world is familiar to most, even those without a religious background. The author explains that her use of the Genesis narrative is psychological and didactic, not religious. This is a fair disclaimer, as those with Christian or Jewish backgrounds may find some of Liviero’s commentary contrary to their beliefs about God. The most striking, and perhaps most controversial, of such being that God has an evil side. The question does raise itself of how evil came into the world from an omnibenevolent God, and Liviero suggests that God is both good and evil from a human standpoint if he created everything.
The good and bad in all people is the manifestation of choices made in the past that carries through generations via stories and traditions, Liviero posits. When we choose to embrace negative behaviors, we are not in line with what we were created to be. While the author states that the use of the Genesis story is simply symbolic, the reader may have a challenging time distinguishing between the symbolism and the meta-narrative that states we are the way we are because of God. This suggests that the Genesis story is more than myth, and we are the product of a creator. Either way, the author uses a creative method to explain why we may make certain negative choices that lead to self-destruction and how to overcome them.
Liviero mostly employs layman terms, and she explains more difficult concepts. At times, themes feel repetitive, but this may be to reinforce them in the reader’s mind for clearer understanding. The prose reads easily, and the length of the book is satisfactory for its genre. There are a few minor line edits that could be fixed with another readthrough, but they do not detract from the reader’s experience.
For readers who are interested in expanding their understanding of the concepts behind the dark and light sides of humanity, Maria Liviero’s self-help book is a solid choice. The symbols and themes of the Genesis creation narrative are a unique voice and slant on a familiar concept, and the author should be commended for her originality. God’s Labyrinth of Good and Evil: Encountering the Self asks some deep questions about what makes us human, and Liviero provides some thought-provoking answers.
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