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.