so I guess it's finally time to address The Shack. I read it months ago, spurred into action after so many of your suggestions to give it a try, but something has been keeping me from sitting down to blog about it. The reviews I'd heard on the book were widely—and I mean night and day—varied, and I needed to read it myself to be able to form any kind of opinion on it. The funny thing is, after reading it my opinion isn't nearly as firm as I thought it would be.
It's a quick read for sure, and as I flew through it, I couldn't place myself into either of the polar opposite camps. There were things I liked and things I didn't. I kept finding ideas that I thought were intriguing, followed by those I felt could be dangerous or misleading. It is a piece of fiction, yes, but I had some problems with writing fiction about God. It's seems like Young ventured into some territory that has some off-limits aspects to it. Yet at the same time, the perspective taken by him was so unique, I couldn't help but see things from a fresh perspective. I was reminded in a new way how much God truly desires relationship with us, not just ritual. I loved the emphasis on that.
But then again, I didn't like the freedom Young took on so many issues that the Bible does not cover. Never is God (the Father, Son, or Spirit) referred to in a feminine way in the Bible, and I don't think that is an accident or a product of the culture of the time the Bible was written. Even though God is not human, He has chosen to personify Himself with masculine pronouns and attributes. I do not think it is our place to second guess God's reasoning behind that. Just like so many things, I don't know why, but I know that God does, and that is enough.
To continue with this push and pull format, I very much liked the message of forgiveness that was woven through the story. I felt Young wrote very beautifully on this subject, showing the very slow, but very complete process Mack went through on his journey to forgiveness. In fact, the scene where Mack finds the spot where his daughter's body is buried is my favorite portion of the book.
In contrast, my least favorite section took place when Mack went to the judgement seat. I felt that the author presented a very skewed picture of God's nature that includes both love and justice. I felt this part, again, might prove to be very dangerous to many who might be prone to confuse this work of fiction with a sound book of theology.
To sum up, for me the water is muddy where this book is concerned. I'm glad I read it, but I wouldn't go so far as to recommend it. It caused me to think, but it left me feeling that I did not have conclusive thoughts on any part of it. The Shack is intriguing because of the vast popularity it has found, and in many ways, that makes me question it even more. I don't like the idea of anyone going to a book of fiction for answers on the most important aspect of life, and something about that just doesn't sit right with me. The Bible is truth, and while other books can be of great help and insight, it contains everything that we need for our spiritual journey.
That's the best I can do. Feel free to add your thoughts if you have read it!