Archive for the ‘the shack’ Category

The Shack by William Young: book review

April 29, 2010

What Is It?

Giving the feel of spiritual fantasy in real life; Mac, with the help of a buddy, sets out to document the time his youngest daughter fell pray to a serial killer and he was then invited back to the crime scene to spend a long weekend hanging out with the physical manifestation of the Holy Trinity…. “High Concept” is alive and well!

How Was It?
This inspirational Journey seems to even off the book shelf owned byMITCH ALBOM’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven. First time author William P. Young, isn’t going to wow you with his writing style but it’s not going to detract from the story either. (Take note Mrs. Stephanie Meyer)
The story is well detailed and the “just some guy trying to Jot down the details of an amazing experience” motif makes any lack of skill just a plot devise .

The beginning feels like you are being manipulated into liking or relating with this guy so that you will care about his interactions later. The fun thing is, it works.

When he does meet God, it smacks of “the magic minority” (where in a white centered story, the character in the ethnic minority emerges as the inspirational Yoda to cause the protagonist to have their self revelation.) God the son is literally Jesus, a nondescript Jewish man. the Holy Spirit is a mystical Japanese woman and because Mac has a problem relating to father figures, God the Father appears as a black woman named Papa. (Think “the Oracle” from the Matrix, though later in the book they seem to switch over and borrow from “Firefly“). This all “works” in the story but it’s because you are into the story and can gloss over he fact that God has been handed to you in the form of trite racial cliché. Dispute all this, most my criticism is in retrospect because this fun, interesting story informed by many devotional books and Christian rock and folk music, helps you put all that aside so you can just enjoy “hanging out” with the story.

Is It Good For Kids?
It’s reading level and straight forward attitude would make this a very assessable book for kids. (No problem if they are reading Twilight and Harry Potter.) I see two concerns for parents with the content.
First, the story has some harsh situations. Most notably is the abduction and murder of a little girl. Followed closely by the story of Mac’s childhood abuse at the hands of his Alcoholic and Christian father, whom Mac poisoned before he ran away from home as a child. It is all handled well without anything graphic and does not hold a candle to the violent and horrible acts presented in the Bible. Still it will be to much for some kids.
Then there is the fantasy vision of God but it is not couched in a fantasy world through the wardrobe. A fictional presentation of the real God could be confusing for some young people. (Of course it could also be confusing for some adults as well.)

What about spiritual issues?
The ultimate message of this book is that God is three in one, presented to the world in Jesus. God loves you, has forgiven your sins. Now that He has open the way, He wants to have a relationship with you.
I believe (from the Bible and my experience) that God is real and will have a real relationship with anyone who seeks or knocks. Therefore anything that points people to get to know God is a good thing because He will welcome them and He will reveal Himself to them in his love and his truth.

Beyond that, if taken as a fictional presentation of a real God, it is accurate to the Bible. I believe that there are some issues that are not dealt with in the book, or skirted around in a way that may make Christians uncomfortable, but it still does not constitute untruth.
Here are the four things that stood out to me:

  1. Jesus talks about how he is concerned with individuals not institutions. While all the assertions about putting your faith in Jesus not the government are true, it glazes over the fact that God chose rulers and directs affairs of state. It also seems to be down on Church in the same vain. It is down on the dead institution but wants vital fellowship between those in fellowship with God – thus asking for the church the way it was meant to be.
  2. There is a discussion of Hell and sending people there. The final word on this is that Hell is real and Jesus takes our place so we don’t have to go. The book also points out that not everyone chooses the relationship Jesus offer and thus fell the full effect of their sin. Beyond that it never tells us what becomes of those who die out side of a relationship with Jesus.Though it’s never even hinted at, I believe the description of Hell that would go best with this book is that God is not so cruel as to take some one, who has spent a lifetime avoiding a relationship with Him, now force them to spend eternity in relationship with the one they avoided in their life.
  3. Finally, (and this is very picky) there is a forth supernatural character who I think theological could have just been the holy spirit (and the story didn’t need another weirdo character to ponder over)

So, in conclusion, Spiritually, it’s packaging may give people concern, but the content is very conservative biblical information.

What Is your Recommendation?

If you like Christian booksSUCH AS The Purpose Driven Life, or spiritual books like “ The Five People You Meet In Heaven” or “Velvet Elvis” I’m sure you will enjoy this book. Beyond that it’s worth the  read to join into the conversation. As a best seller with a movie on the way, it’s a great book to have in your vocabulary when you talk to others about what it is like to have a relationship with Jesus.

The Shack

William P. Young

 

Though the book defiantly suggests Larry Norman and Bruce Cockburn, by the end, it made me want to listen to Rich Mullins and Sufjan Stevens… I think I will.

Only Visiting This Planet

Larry Norman

In The Falling Dark

Bruce Cockburn

A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band

Rich Mullins

Greetings from Michigan

Sufjan Stevens

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