Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: The Shack

I read William Paul Young's The Shack and found it to be an interesting read with a spiritual message.
The book is praised as "uplifting" and a favorite of many "Christian groups" and I found it to have a somewhat comforting message, but a universal feel of what I consider 'modern day socialism'. By this I mean that it does not acknowledge evil in the world.

The book depicts the modern day life of the main character, a 40 something year old father named Mack. We quickly learn that Mack's young daughter was kidnapped, brutally sexually assaulted and killed while on vacation while Mack was saving his son from drowning. Years later, Mack is bitter and upset with God. The book then goes on to have Mack meet "God" back at the shack where his daughter was assaulted.
Through the course of the book, the readers learn, through Mack's dialog with the Holy Trinity in unexpected forms, that God never leaves us, Jesus loves us and the Spirit is always with us.
This aspect is uplifting and a powerful message.

The author also leads us to believe that God is not judgmental, loving all his children equally, regardless of the atrocious acts they commit, etc.
During the course of a weekend (or at least we are led to believe it is a 48 hour period) Mack comes to terms with his daughter's death, forgives God for his loss and has the will to live again.

This message, too, is uplifting and thoughtful.

However, after reading the book, I felt gipped. I wanted "Mack" to find happiness in his life, and felt that the author's explanation of Mack finding peace through God was convincing.

But, I felt that while the message was a lovely one, the events were contrived and forced.

1. The crime that set the story in motion was horrific and yet, the explanation from God was rather mundane.... I love all my children even if they do bad things. This "explanation" is unacceptable to me. I just do not believe that someone who commits a horrible crime like described in the book is a lovable person.

2. The Holy Trinity was personified into 3 people - a large Black woman as God, an tiny mysterious Asian woman as the Holy Spirit and an ugly man as Jesus. This was done to dispel preconceived notions of what God looks like, etc.
If the message was that God is not what the reader imagines, well, how does the author know what I imagine or that I am incorrect?

The Shack was an interesting read, but not one of my favorites.

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