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I loved reading “The Shack”

February 28, 2009

 I have always found it difficult to be trendy.  I’m typically a few steps behind my “hip friends.”  As a perpetual student, I rarely get to read for fun. Thankfully a two-month window opened in my doctoral program when I would not have a class!  I immediately began thinking “what to read, what to read…” 

Twilight was a possibility, but I’m not a teenage girl and I’m not too fond of vampires.  I started to re-read Getting Things Done but that just stressed me out.  (Did I mention that I suffer from insomnia and I read at night before bed? GTD made me think too much.)  I started to read a classic The Journey to the East by Hesse, but it was kind of boring.  OK now to the review:

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young is an allegory (or symbolic narrative) focusing on a man who is struggling with life and faith after a horrible tragedy.  Through a series of events he meets God and spends time working through the deepest and darkest parts of his heart.

Since none of us have seen God, it is always strange when a picture of God is given that is outside our schema. The Shack has taken some flack for this by having characters represent the Trinity that are not common to most.  This should not surprise us, though.  Anthropomorphism is nothing new.  All throughout the Bible, God has helped us understand who He is using human descriptions when we know God is actually a Spirit (John 4:24). The Bible refers to God’s eyes, head, ear, hand, and more.  He even describes Himself using animals like a lion, leopard, bear, eagle, and more. Nothing new… we are limited by our humanness, therefore we cannot understand God.

The steps Mack went through during his weekend with God remind me of The Walk to Emmaus.  Each step is important and lace with symbolism.  Almost as important as the step is the fact that you don’t know where your next step will take you.  This is key to our faith.

Theology: Of course there will always be critics.  I chose not to read them before I read the book for myself.  Some people just don’t like anything!  As an educated Christian, I am will and able to debate theology when needed.  I do not agree with everything Mr. Young wrote. But then again, I haven’t found one preacher that I agree with ALL the time.  Even my dad and I disagree on some important issues and we’ve been serving together in the same church for a long, long time.  Unless you only read what you write yourself, you won’t find a writer that you agree with all the time. 🙂 

Life application: This book is one of the few, aside from the Bible, that can truly help someone through a tragedy. Like Yancey’s Disappointment with God & Where is God When It Hurts? I don’t believe The Shack would be the best instrument of healing for someone who is in the midst of their “great sadness” or most horrible experience of his or her life.  Books like this (and theological truths for that matter) need to be read and learned BEFORE the tragedy so it is in our “tool belt.”  I may be wrong.  Since I am not in a “valley” at this time in my life, I do not know how I would have experienced it.  Knowing me, I would have politely thanked the person who gave me the book, then placed it on the shelf.

Some great quotes from The Shack :

 “Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception – what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms – what you believe.” (p. 197)

“Mackenzie, the Truth shall set you free and the Truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him. Then all that stuff you feel churnin’ around inside will start to work its way out.” (p. 95)

“It’s simple Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing now – just doing this – and being open and available to others around us. My ‘church’ is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job and I’m actually pretty good at it.” (p. 178)

“Honey, there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away. Believe me, if I had one, I’d use it now. I have no magic wand to wave over you and make it all better. Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.” (p. 92)

“I am not asking you to believe in anything, but I will tell you that you’re going to find this day a lot easier if you accept what is, instead of trying to fit it into your preconceived notions.” (p. 119)

“‘This always works better when we do it together, don’t you think?’ Jesus asked, smilling.” (p. 176)

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