Sunday, October 12, 2008
The Shack by William Young seems to have become an overnight controversy, huh? I picked it up at Target because it was the right price and looked interesting. Had never heard of it before that moment and I was surprised at the cover's claim to time on the New York Times Bestseller's List.
I won't put any spoilers in here but I'll give my thoughts as best I can and I'm hoping to hear from you guys as well. It seems like some people are already reading the book or planning on it. First off I'll say that the book did not offend my sensibilities nor did I find it to be sacrilegious in any context. And yes, when I first hit the chapter where God appears (literally) I had to pause a moment or two to figure out if I would go directly to hell without passing go or collecting $200 if I continued reading. So far, no money but no hell either.
The argument the book generates is likely to be whether or not it offers a theologically sound interpretation of God. Sidebar; how many people who sit around huffing and puffing about such things are actual theologians? I haven't met one yet. Back to the discussion; I don't know if it is sound theology. Because I don't think it was intended to be a theology so much as a journey. Our problem is we love theology and religion so we really like to put things into the category of good or evil. That's my point, the journey is what gets you the destination of good or evil. A book cannot make you either.
Here's The Shack as reviewed by me.
Writing: not great. Often not even good. Nobody talks or thinks the way these characters do. High school quality story-telling.
Story: Good. Again, not the best. A truly clever idea that gets the point across successfully however, the foundations of the character's conflict are not realistically addressed. A horrific tragedy is not given the weight it should carry, I think as a simple result of the author's limitations.
Theology: Unintentional. Or at least I think so. The author explains that this was a book written as a gift to his family that his friends felt was worthy of publication. And apparently, they were correct. My sense was that this was one man's attempt to pull God down from heaven and into the living rooms and the guts of the people he loves. And in this, the story was successful. The controversy for the reader will be a matter of whether he/she wants God to stay in heaven or not.
Reaction: The Shack gave me a new determination to focus my Christianity on really understanding how much God loves me personally. It made me want to spend the next year pursuing really getting that concept. Additionally, it gave me a new perspective on the way God means things to be, what we make of them and that he remains in the middle of it with us.
Footnote: A person I know who has no relationship with God read the book and said that this is the first time she felt that God was real and interested in her. Can that be bad?
So read on, and let me know what you got from The Shack.