Friday, January 23, 2009

The Shack

Recently, I've been reading a fascinating book by Wm. Paul Young entitled... you guessed it... "The Shack." It was given to me by a friend, and at first I was a bit skeptical about it. I had neither the time nor the inclination to read another novel about someone's supposed encounter with God. But I have to say that this book was a pleasant surprise. For one, it's actually very well-written; it engages you and draws you in and I found myself unable to put it down for long periods of time. For another, it actually has pretty good theology in it. Though the writer personifies the Trinity as a large, jovial black woman (God the Father), a big-nosed, Middle Eastern carpenter (Jesus), and a small, ethereal Asian woman (Holy Spirit), it is neither disrespectful nor unimaginable. In fact, the more you read it, the more it becomes plausible to imagine the Godhead assuming these various roles if they were to appear in human form.

The book centers around Mack, a father of four whose youngest girl was kidnapped and murdered. As a father of a precocious five-year-old, I could immediately imagine the pain and torment that he undergoes as he struggles to reconcile his guilt, fear and anger. Honestly, there were several times when I was unable to continue reading as I found my eyesight suddenly being blurred by tears.

He receives an invitation to return to the site of his daughter's murder - only now it becomes transformed into a place of peace and tranquility. He spends a few days there, and his interactions with each member of the Trinity is truly impressive from a literary standpoint. The author admirably describes the various characteristics of each one, and provided what I believe to be a credible apologetic for how and why God allows evil in this world.

I read a lot of books, and I've rarely been as engaged as I was in reading this one. If there's one book you should put on your list for 2009, it should be The Shack.


Wilko said...

Just started reading this very engaging book.
Begs the question of "why" which is so often asked when bad things happen. In "Gods and Generals" the theme that runs parallel is whose side is God on? Both the North and the South (especially the South) believed God was on their theirs. Didn't work out that way and the Southern Generals were the most Godly of the bunch.
His ways our not our ways and he is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness.

Dave Harvey said...

Good comment. Yeah, the book drives home the point that God is about relationships - not institutions, systems, or hierarchies. I think the book is a great way to introduce people to rather profound concepts of God and His interactions with us without getting all "preachy" and dumping a truckload of guilt all over them.

Anonymous said...

I read this book about a month ago & was intrigued by the writer's concept of the Holy Trinity. I also had a hard time putting it down when I really needed to be doing something else. Enjoyed it tremendously, and continue to give thought to parts of it. My grandson works at a Books-A-Million here in AL and says they can't keep it on the shelves

DoctorEric said...

If you liked that book, try "He Loves Me" by Wayne Jacobsen, one of the guys who collaborated on the "Shack" project.