Claus-Peter Ganssauge. Winner Is: The Truth, Novel about Science, Faith and Love. 2015. See here to buy the book.
This book is a translation of the German book, Illusionen—-Visionen, Roman vom Zweifel, von der Liebe und der Hoffnung. Its author, Claus-Peter Ganssauge, has worked in various businesses and has written three other books. The author grew up in Nazi Germany and confesses that he admired Hitler when he was a child, but he says that he was shocked to learn the truth, and since then he has “mistrusted all ideologies and religions.”
The story is set in a small town near a jungle in Brazil. Jack’s father is a renowned Ethnologist. While his father exposed him to religion, specifically the religion of one of the tribes, he never taught Jack about Christianity. Jack goes to a priest to learn more about Christianity, but Jack also seems to gain knowledge on his own. Essentially, Jack argues against much of what the priest is saying. Meanwhile, the priest has an attractive housekeeper, Angela, and she and Jack have sex. Jack appears to inspire some sort of Reformation, a version of Christianity that values the humanitarian teachings of Jesus and recognizes the wisdom of the Bible while dispensing with traditional theism and Christian doctrine.
Overall, the nature of the dialogue between the priest and Jack is that the priest spouts a bunch of dogmatic platitudes, and Jack dismisses them as lacking proof. The priest was sincere, but the dialogue would have been more interesting had the priest been a philosophically-trained Jesuit. The priest attempted to present some rudimentary form of apologetics, but most of the time he spouted platitudes and castigated Jack as a blasphemer. It is also unrealistic that the usual village-atheist arguments, which have been around for a long time, would spark some massive Reformation. As for the sex scenes, there was not a whole lot of romance leading up to them. I thought of the scene in Family Guy in which a cave-man goes up to a cave-woman and propositions her with “You, me, sex.”
The book also read rather awkwardly. The author confesses that he used translation software, but he also says that someone edited the book. The book reads, though, as if it had been put into an old version of Google Translate. And there were times when the translation seemed to be making the opposite point to what the author probably intended.
There were parts of the book that resonated with me. I have been watching the National Geographic series, “One Strange Rock,” and it talks about the violent, cataclysmic origin of the earth and the moon. I wonder why God would create this way, and Jack apparently had a similar question. There was also a spiritual insight about something mysterious being behind the cosmos. Jack also raised an interesting question about the nature of the Bible, for the priest was claiming that the Bible was inspired by God, on the one hand, while maintaining that biblical authors relied on oral tradition, on the other hand. How the two fit together is a profound question. The book also contrasts (correctly or incorrectly) Paul’s depiction of the Holy Spirit with the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. Some of Jack’s objections were rather silly, though, as when he wondered how prayer could travel through the galaxies to reach God.
I appreciate the author’s task of honestly sharing his thoughts, even if the book did not particularly dazzle me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. My review is honest.