Friday, October 17, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young

I finished The Shack last night and I have to say it was one of the more unique books I've read this year. I enjoyed it to a point. I'm going to warn you in advance that there may be a few spoilers ahead but they won't give away the whole story.

The Shack starts with a man enjoying a camping trip with his three youngest children. This part of the book was the most "novel" like. What I mean by that is that this is where there plot and storyline really take center stage. We are introduced to Mack and get a sense of who he is as a man and as a father. His role as a father is a key point in this book. He's a good one. His role as a son is where he struggles. He struggled with his earthly father and he struggles with his Heavenly Father.

During the camping trip, tragedy strikes when his youngest daughter, 6 year old Missy, is abducted and thought to be dead. Through his struggle to recover from his loss, and what a loss it is, he begins a period of his life he calls The Great Sadness. One day he receives a note in his mailbox inviting him to the shack where they found Missy's bloody dress. The note comes from Papa, which is the name Mack's wife has for God.

Mack goes to the shack and there has the most incredible experience of his life. He meets God in the form of the Trinity. God the Father appears to him as a "big black woman with a questionable sense of humor." Jesus appears as a Middle Eastern working man -a carpenter of course. The Holy Spirit, well, she's something else. She's a very insightful "Asian looking" woman who Mack can not fully focus on. Through their time together, they discuss the state of the world, the meaning of the Trinity, forgiveness, judgement, relationship, and any number of deep thoughts.

This was a book that I couldn't read for long without having to close it and think. The majority of the book was conversations between Mack and the various persons of God. There wasn't much plot toward the end of the book and it became more teaching tool than novel. The author made some good points. He took a fairly liberal view of Christianity and I appreciated that. I have found over the years that my own relationship with God has changed and I think more and more that God isn't as judgemental as common Christian thought lets on. I can't see Him abandoning any of His children just because they mess up.

This book may not be a favorite of mine, it grew tedious at the end, but it made me think. I can't fault it for that. For that alone it was worth reading.

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