My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Review: Hell? No!: Why You Can Be Certain There Is No Such Place As Hell

Hell? No!: Why You Can Be Certain There Is No Such Place As Hell Hell? No!: Why You Can Be Certain There Is No Such Place As Hell by Rick Lannoye
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book: ***
Performance: ***

An Ironic Tilt at Christian Neo-Fundamentalists

Neo-fundamentalists are rather famously known for their literal reading of select portions of scripture … which is exactly what happens here as well, just with a different selection. While I am very sympathetic to the concept here, the author’s support becomes problematic by the use of poor academic research and questionable exegesis. For example, in attempt to highlight the influence of Persian Zoroastrianism, we get a complete erroneous connection between the term and the word Farsi (aka Persian) … when in fact, it is known to be related to the Hebrew pārūš which is commonly interpreted as pious or separate. Then we get an introduction to Sheol, the early Hebrew concept of death and/or the grave, having two levels or compartments … a concept that was only developed in the apocalyptic literature of the late Second Temple period (circa 200 BCE) showing the author has a tenuous grasp of how such concept actually evolve over time. In fact, the Book of Enoch divides Sheol into four levels … but this was conveniently ignored by the author. However, despite all of that, there is some truth behind the idea that the Jewish understanding of Sheol development through some syncretism with other world-views (such as Greek and Persian). In addition, there is no effort to actually separate potential legend/myth with actual practice … which is painfully clear in the treatment of Gehenna and its association with the tophet (of which there is no archaeological support in or around Jerusalem … which includes the valley of Hinnom). To be fair … a lot of the basic facts appear to be accurate, with just some of the minor details slightly off …

The problem here is that Christianity is an incredibly diverse religion, so using neo-fundamentalists as a proxy is just lazy and allows the author to completely ignore the centuries of tradition and debate within the early Church that actually does address many of these questions … in fact, even when some of these beliefs are referenced in his straw man arguments, they are so incredibly erroneous (ref: Limbo et al) that it is not surprising that any conclusions are based upon faulty theology … and this is extremely sad because many of the questions raised are good ones. This is all exacerbated by an extremely sarcastic (at times even mocking) and antagonistic presentation that is highly likely to put many readers immediately on the defensive. Frankly he ascribes way too much conspiracy level credit to the motivations of christian clergy to be taken seriously.

Finally … the narrative was often awkward and even irritating (with some incorrect pronunciations and slurred enunciation), making it difficult to dispassionately evaluate some of the silly antics and fallacies presented (IOW I was ROFLOL … a lot :-).

The chapters and sections in this work are:

Introduction (12:58)
Chapter 1 - Where Did Hell Come From? (1:35:40)
Chapter 2 - Why Heaven is Impossible If There is a Hell (59:19)
Chapter 3 - Did Jesus Believe in Hell? (1:19:03)
Chapter 3b - Did Jesus Believe in Hell? Part B (1:16:23)
Chapter 4 - Is Hell Necessary for the Sake of Justice? (56:59)
Chapter 5 - Why Didn’t God Keep Hell a Secret? (3:41)
Chapter 6 - Why Pascal Didn’t Wager for Ammit? (28:26)
Chapter 7 - What Evangelization Would Be Like Without Hell (10:52)
Chapter 8 - Why Hell Retards Morality (35:05)
Chapter 9 - The Day of Judgement (47:09)

I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#HellNo #FreeAudiobookCodes #KindleUnlimited

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.