Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young

Note: I have chosen to discuss The Shack instead of review it simply because in reviewing, you don’t give away any spoilers. The Shack is so intense and descriptive; it is hard to mention the book without mentioning some of its crucial elements. I will not give away the plot, but I think this should be more of a discussion.

I entered into reading The Shack with a little more than just curiosity. After all, any book that sells over a million copies in its first 6 months by word of mouth only has something going on between the pages. As I read the first few chapters, I will admit, I wondered what the hype was. In fact, I was strangely close to setting it down and considering that experiment done. I’ve made that fatal mistake before-giving up too soon on a book-and decided this would be one book I finished even for curiosities sake alone. I have not been disappointed. Few pieces of fiction work with your reasoning like The Shack. You are engulfed in rethinking every belief you held dear in relation to God and his existence. Although The Shack is not meant to be taken as a literal piece of theology or religious doctrine, it is meant to be thought provoking and spark conversation. For the sake of expanding on his ideas, I offer the following commentary on some of Young’s ideals.

*The idea that God wants a relationship with us based on pure trust because we know he loves us and ultimately everything that happens to us is for our best, is not far fetched. I could embrace this with minor stretching.

*The idea that through a relationship where all parties submit there is no need for a boss or one in charge is harder for me to understand. There are too many examples in the Bible where God presents himself as one to be exalted and worshiped. David built a book around worship songs (or Psalms) to God. If the Bible is Gods inspired word, he wants us to embrace worshipping him as a vital part of our existence. How does that fit the idea that no one is above anyone else? How does that fit the God-submits-to-us theory?

*The idea that God and Jesus are presented by the church as both the good cop/bad cop partners in the spiritual realm is so true. They reason that Jesus died for our sins, making every good thing in the Bible possible for us. His death ruled out all the commandments we were to follow in the Old Testament. God on the other hand is the one who sees all. He judges from a distance. He is the one you don’t want to upset. He is used as the ultimate threat. To view them as one and the same has never crossed the minds of those that go to church every Sunday.

*The idea that there is no such thing as “Christian” or being Christ like is accurate-and freeing. What would Jesus do is nothing but a ball and chain around our feet as no one can live up to Jesus. He didn’t come to be an example for us; rather he came to be our sacrifice. Although human, he was still perfect. He could endure all those temptations because he was perfect. No matter how hard we try, we will never be as Jesus. Never.

If I were to pen a review, I would say that The Shack is so vivid and thought provoking, if you could read it with an open mind and close off all of the former religious programming, this world might have a chance. We might see an outbreak of forgiveness and global warming to relationships instead of religions and church. The Shack is so full of symbolism but then again, what’s to say it isn’t more accurate that symbolic? This is exactly the argument we find ourselves debating in regards to the Bible. The Shack has the potential to change lives as does the Bible, if, the reader is willing to stretch their imaginations and be willing to accept that which they can not prove.

Young brilliantly finishes the story with a twist that has movie material written all over it. And in fact, there are producers ready to script it if there is enough interest. Visit The Shack book.com to see more about The Missy Project.

If you read only one book this year, make it The Shack. You will finish the book changed in some way or another. You just have to be willing....to return....to The Shack.

soft cover 248 pages
Published by WindBlown Media
released December 2007

From CBD
"Mack" Philips took his three children on a family camping trip while his wife visited her sister. Just as they were about to leave the campsite, the two older kids decided to take a last canoe ride before heading home. As their canoe overturned, and Mack went to help them, his back was turned and the unspeakable happened. Mack's youngest daughter,Missy, was abducted by a known child predator. After a massive search, evidence of Missy showed up at an abandoned cabin. Although they never found her body, everyone knew the worst had happened. For the next four years "a great sadness" fell over Mack and his family, until a note from God showed up in his mailbox. What happens next will move you to a greater understanding of God's unfailing love for us all.