Monday, April 22, 2013

The Gate by Dann Stouten

Every life is a story. Schuyler Hunt is about to come face-to-face with the author of his.

When a planned getaway with his wife turns into a shopping trip for the girls, Schuyler Hunt finds himself looking for something else to do. An ad for a vacation cottage catches his eye, and he sets off in search of a much-needed break. When he arrives, he finds something far different from the typical summer home experience. In fact, he may have found a little slice of heaven.

The proprietor-along with a number of unexpected and yet familiar guests-welcomes him with food, rest, and conversation, until what started out as an escape from everyday life turns into something much, much more . . .

“There is a real world all around us. We taste and feel it every day. There is also another world where God dwells and those who have gone before us live with Jesus. Dann Stouten helps us discover that these two places intersect more than we often notice. If we pay close attention, we just might see, smell, and learn to taste the goodness of a world beyond this one.”-Kevin Harney, author of Reckless Faith.

My review:
     I absolutely hated The Shack, and found it to be heretical and it dragged God down to a level He should not be dragged down to, not to mention the cursing in the book. Therefore, I am always leery of reading a book that is compared to that book, but so far have liked the books that are compared to it. This book was said to be reminiscent of The Shack, so I almost passed on it, but decided to give it a try. It is a little similar to The Shack, and possibly to The Five People You Meet In Heaven, which I have not read, but know the premise of.

  The main character, Schuyler, goes to check out a vacation cottage and it turns out be Heaven. He gets to spend time with Jesus and God the Father. Unlike the author of The Shack, I didn't feel the author pulled God or Jesus down to an improper level. I wasn't sure about the Holy Spirit being portrayed as a woman, and that kind of bothered me, although Scripture doesn't give a masculine pronoun to the Holy Spirit.

  I liked the book, really liked it. There are some nuggets of truth in this fiction novel that are sticking with me, such as "Christianity isn't about escaping the world, it is about changing it." And that it isn't our job to bring people on earth to Heaven. Our job is to bring Heaven to earth, to live in a way that makes people want our faith.

   This is one of those books that thought it is fiction, is more than fiction. It has a lot of things in it that make you think and desire your walk with God to be different and better. I'm sure there are those who might consider the book "preachy", as there are many who seem to think Christian fiction should just entertain. I disagree. The highest compliment that could be given to a Christian novel, in my opinion, is that it goes beyond entertaining and interesting, and either brings the reader closer to God, or convicts him or her to do better. This is one of those books. I would definitely recommend it. If you haven't read The Shack and are thinking about it, read this instead.

  I have never been a fan of the first person point of view in fiction, but some authors can make me like it more than others. This book was written from the first person point of view, and I actually feel it worked better for this book. Regardless, it is a great novel that has the possibility to change the reader for the better.

About the author:
Dann A. Stouten is senior pastor of Community Reformed Church in Zeeland, Michigan, one of the fastest-growing churches on the West Michigan lakeshore. After a highly successful career in the auto industry, Dann returned to school and earned his DMin in narrative preaching. This is his first novel.

Available April 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.


Carole said...

Mark, I told you on the other night that I enjoyed your reviews, and this one is no exception. I never read The Shack, but our pastor asked me to look into it and I didn't like what I discovered - pretty much your exact thoughts. I also share your opinion as to what Christian fiction should be.

I saw this book on NetGalley and didn't think I would care for it, but you've changed my mind. Thanks for the time you spend on reviews - they are effective!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net