March 2010,

Look past the title. This book isn’t a cosmological manifesto. Nor is it a roadmap to a celestial earth populated by winged angels, humble saints and endless pitchers of cold lager. Instead, editor John Wade II cracks open an intellectual piñata and shares 101 easy-to-digest ruminations on physical and spiritual progress, each offering a way for the reader to make the planet a better place. Wade includes a diversity of world views, sharing works by, among others, George W. Bush, Al Gore, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks and Chef Paul Prudhomme.

Wade groups the essays into ten categories, representing what he calls the ten elements necessary for achieving a heaven on earth:

1. Peace 2. Security 3. Freedom 4. Democracies 5. Prosperity 6. Spiritual Harmony 7. Racial Harmony 8. Ecological Harmony 9. Health 10. Moral Purpose and Meaning

Whereas Maslow outlined the steps to individual self-actualization, Wade seeks to define a path to society’s self-actualization. It’s a bold undertaking, especially given the challenge of melding so many different voices. There is the occasional feeling of a landscape painted with water colors, acrylics and oils. The mixing of mediums can intrude on the vision. In this case one wonders and hopes to see how effectively Wade synthesizes these ideas into his own treatise.

In the meantime, “how to achieve a heaven on earth” merits praise for raising the question of how each of us can live purposefully. It’s one of those increasingly rare books that promotes introspection, and it’s the kind of book that you can gleam insight from whether you take it off of the shelf for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours.

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