Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Shack

Book cover of Book cover via AmazonBook cover via Amazon
"Everyone" on one of the boards I frequent has been talking about "The Shack". The Shack is a short novel by an unknown author that seems to be getting a lot of attention from the Christian world. It attempts to tackle the biggest question of life that is the problem of a loving G-d and the existence of evil. Doing that in a novel form is no easy task. But, William P. Young has pulled it off.

Without giving away too much of the story line, Mack, the main character in the book has had an unspeakable tragedy in his life and is burdened with a sadness that he can't shake. He's angry with G-d who his wife refers to as "Papa". Mack is getting by, but there's no joy in his life. One day he receives a note from "Papa" asking him to meet him at "The Shack", the very place where the tragedy occurred. When Mack shows up, he is able to confront "Papa" and Mack asks "Papa" all the questions you'd want to ask should you get the chance to come face-to-face with G-d. I think William P. Young did a good job with asking the questions we'd all like to ask.

It's difficult when reviewing a novel to know how much of the story-line to give away. Personally, I want to know the bare minimum when going to see a movie or picking up a book. So, I won't spoil too much for you. I do have to tell you that the G-d that Mack meets is a Triune G-d and one of the more interesting things about the book is the way in which it deals with the often boring and always confusing doctrine of the Trinity. Ironically, we were discussing it on a Christian-Buddhist message board and one of the guys began to explain it almost exactly the way it's presented in The Shack. (and he had not read the book).

The book reminds me of Conversations with God- only with a plot. It's also similar to Brian McLaren's fictional trilogy The author did a good job of packing a lot of dense theological concepts into a story that draws you along. Fundamentalist Christians may be surprised and disappointed with the lack of judgment (as in condemnation) coming from the G-d in The Shack. Frankly, it's still a teeny-weeny bit still too fundamentalist for me. But, I found several parts of the book really astounding and it prompted me to see G-d from new angles. Some have called The Shack the greatest book ever. I wouldn't go that far. The story line is not too well developed. But, that's OK because it's not a thriller type novel. The writing style is not the best I've read. Rarely would I say this, but I would have liked some more details about the characters before the big tragedy occurred. But, overall, the book is very good and is definitely worth a read. I found myself not able to put it down as I was being drawn along to see what new revelation Mack would get next. For many, I think The Shack might be life changing. At this point on my journey it wasn't earth shattering. But, I'm glad I read it to see what all the buzz was about. And, I think it's a great book for discussion.

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