Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Shack

I recently read "The Shack" by William Paul Young. It's the latest big-selling Christian novel. I will admit I am repelled by any maudlin, pie-in-the-sky sort of Christian stories and I began the book skeptically. I was suprised when the first half was quite realistic and did not paint all the characters as unflawed goody-two-shoes. The narrator is Mack, a father of four. He tells of his family being torn apart by the abduction and murder of his 4 year-old daughter. He descends into what he calls "the great sadness".
Then Mack gets a written invitation in the mailbox from God to meet him in a shack in the Oregon wilderness. God signs the note "Papa". The shack is where his daughter was murdered and her blood still stains the floor. There he also meets Jesus and the Holy Spirit who, of course, appear to him as a diverse group of human beings - probably to break down any silly stereotypes we may have about what the Trinity actually looks like. (Can you sense my deteriorating interest in the book?)
The rest of "The Shack" gives Young's interpretations of God and all His mysterious ways. Here's where I have a problem. A mere human who has decided that he has it all figured out or to, in effect, speak for God, not to mention Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The words of the Big Three are very straight forward in their explanations. I think we would all like to have a complete understanding of God, but I do not believe that is possible here on Earth and I am wary of a person who thinks they do.
You may be surprised when I say that I wouldn't necessarily discourage anyone from reading this book. There may be some nuggets of wisdom or inspiration that hit home with you. But when I started looking up articles on the Internet about this book I found the words "dangerous" and "subversive" time and again.
Without a doubt the author's primary message is that God loves us unconditionally and He does not interfere in the free will that creates evil in this world. I do have a problem though with all the answers to life wrapped up in a neat 250 pages, because if we knew it all we wouldn't need any faith, would we?
Those who oppose the book have found many biblical misinterpretations and disturbing explanations. Have you read it? I'd like to know what you think.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Hi Diane. You asked on my blog if I'd read this. No. I've read a lot of qualms about the theology, but that isn't the main reason I haven't read it (although it might have been enough to prevent me), The main reason is that when I was 17, a 9 year old girl I loved very much was kidnapped, raped, and killed. The whole set up for this book is more than I can take.

I do hope you get some other people to take part in the discussion though. My personal issues are not meant as a discouragement from other people reading it.

Kelly Jene said...

Thank God. I thought I was the only one who wasn't gaga over it. I enjoyed the simplicity of a story of a man meeting with God and having his heart healed. But as far as taking it any more serious, give me a break. There is so much in there that is unbiblical, it's dangerous for some to read! I certainly don't suggest it to anyone. I'd rather suggest our books! :)

Jan said...

I finally read it and, like you, found it better than expected. I was averse/against reading it, but gave in to the church book study group I facilitate that we'd read it. (Now we're reading "The Powers That Be" by Walter Wink, which was my choice!) With group discussions, my eyes were opened to some of the theology I agreed with in the book. I didn't really like the beginning or ending. I feel like it might be beneficial for people who have a narrow vision of a male God.

Susan's Snippets said...


I haven't read it...yet. But one of my blogger buddies is reading it and periodically posts a small blurb about liking it alot. I will send you her link if she posts anything more substantial.

Enjoy your day!

i say

Snowbrush said...

I started the book but didn't finish it, something about what I took to be its air of political correctness.

"He does not interfere in the free will that creates evil in this world. I am totally cool with that theology."

But whence the assumption that free will creates evil. I can't really make sense of the idea that baby birds--and little chidren--starve to death because human beings were purposefully made fallible and then went out and acted that way.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I edited out that sentence because I see now how it can be taken the wrong way. I only accept that there is good and bad in the world.

Obi said...

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the way that it challanged all that we think or have been taught.
I typically love reading anything that the mainstream Christian community marks as dangerous!