a New Approach
to the Question of God
"Shane's New Blog"
A Major Breakthrough! Two of my three books are now under contract to publishers. On October 1, 2013 I received the fully executed contract for my nonfiction book The End of Unbelief: A New Approach to the Question of God from Leafwood Publishers. Leafwood is an imprint of Abilene Christian University Press. About four weeks later I received the signed contract from Drake Valley Press for my novel The Last Dreamgirl. The End of Unbelief will be released on September 9, 2014; The Last Dreamgirl the following spring.
The back cover says:
"The trend toward atheism and other forms of unbelief is gathering force, and churches simply don't know how to counter it. This book provides the new kind of outreach needed -- sophisticated, bold, and intellectually challenging.
"As a former atheist turned Christian, Shane Hayes offers a unique perspective for skeptics. While standard conversion literature rarely penetrates unbelievers defenses, this book brings them to God even as their minds are slammed shut to Christ.
"Hayes found a direct transition from atheism to Christianity impossible. Instead, a period of Pure Theism occurred where Hayes took one step out of atheism towards the later second step: Christ. Both steps require an acceptance of God as a personal and loving deity.
"The End of Unbelief serves as a response to the New Atheists and to anti-faith arguments in general. Read it and give it to the skeptic in your life."
"This book makes the question of God come alive and real in a way that no purely academic work can equal. Its raw spiritual insight and autobiographical frankness will grab hold of you and keep your attention no matter what your beliefs may be. Highly recommended."
-- JOHN F. HAUGHT, Senior fellow in science and religion at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, and author of 18 books, including
God and the New Atheism.
The following is from an unsolicited letter just received from a reader:
"I always knew you were an outstanding writer, Shane.... What I never realized is the lucid and logical methodology with which you are blessed. I read through The End of Unbelief quickly once.... It is truly an amazing and compelling synthesis of the odyssey which has carried you through so many tidal changes, tempests and turbulent seas. The 'safe harbor' in which you now find yourself is s gift from the God you and your work have served so well.
"I am now reading your work for the second time -- the first was with my head and now I bring my heart to my reading -- so I can capture as much as I am able. Each chapter stimulates, no, demands, reflection. I dare say, each chapter invites comparison with one's own continuing journey. In a very real sense The End of Unbelief is like a lighthouse. It holds out that promising ray of hope, especially to those who feel far from the home shores."
Peter G. Federico
President of Peter G. Federico Associates
West Chester, PA
These remarks are from a reader's comment that appears in full at the bottom of this home page:
"I wanted to write and let you know how much your book ministered to me. On a personal level, you put to words my faith and clarified things for me that I have struggled for years to define....
"Your essays touched my soul in such a comforting way, putting words to how I, daily, see the problem of evil and the joy of God's Kingdom.
"In addition to that, our beloved eldest son, who is about to turn 18, just confessed to us that he is an atheist about a month ago.... [Y]our book was part of what God has used to show me that journey he needs to take, to wrestle with God own his own, and has give me such peace and perspective. Thank you so much for writing."
To learn more about it or buy it on Barnes and Noble.com the link is: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-end-of-unbelief-shane-hayes/1119691016?ean=9780891124382
HEAR SHANE'S RADIO INTERVIEW ABOUT HIS NEW BOOK:
Just listen to a minute or two of my first radio interview. Click this link:
Personal note: At 15 I decided I wanted to be a writer -- a published author of books. That was my ambition, my dream, the cardinal goal of my life. It never changed, but it took 50 years of relentless effort starting at age 24. At 75 I'm launching a new career -- learning to do what authors must. That includes a lot of public speaking, which used to terrify me; but I'm getting the hang of it. Wish me luck. I'm a 75-year-old rookie, and the life I've always wanted has just begun!
But I'm starting late -- really late -- so I need you to pass the word. If you like this website tell friends to check it out. See that I'm an original voice, in both fiction and nonfiction. With reader support I'll beat the odds. Can't do it alone.
See new material on the About Us: Who Is Shane Hayes? page and see the latest postings on my Blog.
Welcome to this website!
If like most visitors you're on the run and have only a minute or two, you wonder, "Can this guy write? Is there anything here worth reading?" Here's how to spend the minute or two. I refer to the menu choices on the left.
Take your pick from these:
The Vanishing Face of
Refinement: quick, elegant, and light
Her Last and Finest Hour: quick and poignant
Profile of Christ: quick and inspirational
Death of a Quiet Valley: quick, vivid, nostalgic
Letters and Aphorisms: personal fragments, bite size
About Us: Who Is Shane Hayes?: mini-bio, short and personal
The other menu items, especially My Challenge to Christians, deal with the serious business of this website: primarily the crisis of religion in America and how my book The End of Unbelief: A New Approach to the Question of God helps you solve a piece of it. Substantial portions of that book are offered (I tell, below, where they appear). I also post whole chapters and passages from my two novels.
Readers who are less rushed: Please read the descriptions below and click on menu items -- in the left column here -- that interest you. I'll make new postings from time to time under the last two items: Letters and Aphorisms and Who Is Shane Hayes. There's a box for comments at the bottom of this page and of each page listed on the menu. I hope you'll use it to tell me your reactions. You can omit your name and location, and simply comment, if you wish.
My Challenge to Christians (see menu in left column) begins with this paragraph:
"Shake off your complacency. Christianity has fallen on hard times. In highly developed nations it‘s under vicious attack. The Great Persecution under Diocletian in the fourth century was more violent but less lethal. The new threat is not from breast-plated Roman soldiers who would dismember us with a cutlass or throw us to the lions. It comes from genteel highly educated fellow citizens."
My Challenge gives shocking statistics on the trend toward agnosticism, atheism, and other forms of unbelief -- even among high-school students! The churches do almost nothing to counter it. Time-worn strategies are ineffective with hardened skeptics in this era. Standard conversion literature cannot penetrate their defenses. A new kind of outreach is needed.
My book The End of Unbelief was written specifically to fill this need. It uses agnosticism to argue for faith. In my Challenge I tell how you, and any concerned Christian, can do a small and easy thing to make a difference. You can't reverse a worldwide trend, but you can quietly and tactfully, without a spoken word, ask an unbeliever you care about to reconsider the ultimate question. Click My Challenge in the left column.
Unique Approaches explains the more discreet, novel, and sophisticated methods I use to connect with skeptics -- often militant ones -- in my writing and my talks.
The next four menu items are excerpts from Parts One to Three of my book The End of Unbelief.
The Believing Agnostic contains excerpts from Part One of the book. This is pure argument. It takes on the New Atheism, shows it is a belief system, not a proven theory, and that it offers less to rational thinkers than faith in God does. It introduces the idea of Pure Theism, an unfamiliar term and concept, largely of my own devising. The reader is urged to ponder that new possibility – one small but momentous step out of atheism.
Merton Trappist Episode at 17, a memoir in fictional form, is a sampling of Part Two of the book. It tells how a fiercely ardent Catholic faith caused a crisis in my life at seventeen – a near renunciation of family, friends, hope of a career, love, marriage, children -- and how it was resolved. The influence of Thomas Merton, the famous Trappist monk, was central to the conflict. He has been called “the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century.” I include a sketch of the man and our meeting in the story.
Atheism and God Rediscovered is Part Three of the book, a blend of argument and memoir. It describes my passage through atheism, Hinduism and Buddhism, to Pure Theism -- which I describe in Part One -- and finally back to Christianity.
God Accused of Evil: A Trial. In this last segment of Part Three of the book I dramatize and debate the problem of evil in a courtroom scene with God as defendant (“A Trial for the Ages”).
Her Last and Finest Hour is the very brief Part Four of the book. I wrote it the day after my mother died and brought it to the obituary editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer the same day. Though he read it on the spot and reacted warmly, my mother was buried a few days later and the piece did not appear. I delivered it as a eulogy at her funeral Mass. Three weeks later the Inquirer called and asked if they could run it on the oped page. I was pleased, of course, and it appeared as the lead oped article on July 4, 1988.
Profile of Christ:His Life in 900 Words, the fifth and last part of the book, shows how one who is philosophically agnostic yet passionately Christian sees the life and mission of Christ. I present it in two alternate forms. Which do you think is more effective? My readers so far have been about equally divided. An elderly nun of my acquaintance said, "I am using it for my morning meditation. It is beautiful and inspiring."
The Vanishing Face of Refinement was my written response to an assignment my sixteen-year-old daughter was given by her English teacher, which involved written interaction between parent and student. I thought it droll enough to submit to a magazine. The Saturday Evening Post ran it with a beautiful Paul Stahr illustration in early 1993.
The Death of a Quiet Valley describes my favorite outdoor spot on earth when I was growing up in Yeadon, Pennsylvania. My home was across the street from the church and school I attended, and directly behind them was the woods described. I wrote it while still deep in my atheism. It has some sensual overtones. The unsettling announcement that occasioned it did not materialize. Christian Brothers who teach at West Catholic High School now reside in what was once a convent on the tranquil edge of the valley.
Novel 1: Pretty Girl Lost [formerly Family Man]. Here I give excerpts from the first novel of a planned trilogy. Pretty Girl Lost tells the story of two unconnected families whose lives intersect at the point of a crime. In each family is a young man with an obsessive need for a woman. Both men are handsome and charismatic. Comely seventeen-year-old Sandra Moore is raped by her live-in uncle. An hour later she goes for a walk and never comes back. Did she run away? Did the uncle, who pursued her, kill her? Was she someone else's victim? Brash young investigator Ronald Pavone thinks he knows. His investigation uncovers the secrets of three deeply troubled lives.
The author of twenty-six novels and the world's most famous travel writer Paul Theroux said of Pretty Girl Lost: "I can tell you that it held me. It is... a shocking book.... It is a strong book."
Novel 2: The Last Dreamgirl. Though this is a sequel to Pretty Girl Lost it can stand alone. The characters are reintroduced and no knowledge of the prequel is required. Thirty-year-old Ollie Bower is refined, intelligent, artistic, and affluent but suffers from a facial deformity that has stunted his personality development and blighted his life.
Seventeen-year-old Sandra Moore is pretty and extremely bright -- first in her class -- but her natural shyness has become pathological in an abusive home environment. Though kind and likeable people they are utterly friendless and isolated. The novel shows how each of them becomes wounded and scarred, the extraordinary way in which their paths cross ( he abducts her), Ollie's poignant dream of winning her love, how they interact as friends and enemies in a bizarre -- almost gothic -- setting, and the profound impact each has on the other's life.
The same famous novelist and travel writer who commented on Pretty Girl Lost (see two paragraphs above) read The Last Dreamgirl and said: "Very ingenious -- the story of an abduction, believable and not sensational but based on an obsession. Versions of this story have been in the news -- both in the U. S. and in Germany.... How prescient you were in devising it. [A]s a tour de force and sustained narrative... it was really compelling. [W]ith a little editing, this is not only publishable but a seller." Paul Theroux.
Letters and Aphorisms. Many people, writers especially, keep a journal or diary. For a few brief periods in my life I did, but for decades past have not. Prolific letter writing is for me the equivalent of a journal. Instead of confiding my thoughts, feelings, and experiences to a private volume of daily entries I express them to a circle of close friends, including my family. I've written more -- thousands of pages, in fact -- than anyone including progeny will ever read. But as a writer, correspondence is my most natural and spontaneous form of self-expression. From time to time I'll post here letters, or exchanges of letters (nearly all composed on and sent by email), that may have general interest, at least to people who find other things I've written worth reading. Of aphorisms, more later.
This is a photo of my sister Eileen, who died when not much older than she was in this photograph. She left behind a thirteen-year-old son, Alex, who was then raised by my parents. A recent email conversation between Alex and me is given as exchange #13 under Letters and Aphorisms.
MY FIRST LETTER POSTING (see # 1, at the bottom of the Letters page) is an exchange between my poet friend Peter Krok and me commenting on a poem for which he just won a prize and a cash award. I found the poem quite moving, and he's authorized me to post it here. The first-person narrator of the poem is one of the men trapped in the gas-filled Sago Mine, when an explosion there in 2006 made escape for most of them impossible. It's a dramatic tale poignantly told. Click on Letters and Aphorisms.
About Us: Who Is Shane Hayes? A rich and provocative question. I can answer it in a number of ways. And I do.
Picturing Paradise: My unconventional thoughts about the afterlife.
Please use this box to leave a comment after reading. Your reactions are of great interest to me, brief or long (one word can say a lot). The comment will reach me even if you don't identify yourself at all. Leave the email line blank if you don't want a reply. Shane
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