Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Shack

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.


Louise said...

I got the book at the Library weeks ago and could not get past the first few pages. I tried numerous times to read this book & simply couldn't. Now I guess I know that over-all, I didn't miss much.

Stacy said...

Louise, I, too, had trouble getting interested in the book. But now that I've gotten to the part where God appears, I'm intrigued to find out what's next. I had never heard of this book, I simply, like Sara, found it at Target, and was looking for something to dive into, and it sounded interesting. It seems that since having the book, I've heard a whole lot of chatter about it. Mainly the reason I want to finish, so I can chatter too :-)

Margie said...

i got it as a gift, someone actually sent it to me via some website they got it for free... anyway, I haven't read it, I thought the first part of it was kind of... well... uninteresting... That sounds horrible, I feel bad because apparently someone thought it was be good for me to read... and I can't...

Mike Edwards said...

I haven't read the book. I've heard that the dude that wrote it never really intended it to be a theological treatise. However, it could be bad to learn that God loves us if we don't learn that this love is not for our personal consumption and glory but that through the redemption of the people he has cast his love upon reflect HIS glory. I have no clue where the book stands on that...just addressing the question you posed in the post.

Bet you wondered if I still read this stuff eh :)

Deb said...

mrs. mac and I will be reading it at the same time as soon as my copy arrives courtesy of

I was highly cautioned by some of my friends who are of the "this isn't theologically correct therefore it must be damaging" persuasion. But encouraged by another dear friend (Dawna) who suggested that I'm probably mature enough as a Christian to discern whether or not it's a book I should be reading.

...haven't read a word yet...will let you know....

~Robin said...

i appreciate your take in the book. its caused quite a stirr in our church-some love, others virtually hate.
Im a thumbs down gal, not hate, just found it predictable and preachy...good discussion starter for sure. Just be sure not to check your brains or beliefs as you crack it open cuz there is a tad of theological junk contained in The shack-my opinion.