Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!
Wm. Paul Young is a Canadian author. Young was the oldest of four. He spend the majority of his first decade with his missionary parents in the highlands of Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua), among the Dani, a tribal people. When he was six he was sent to a boarding school.
The manuscript, that later became The Shack, was intended only for his six kids and for a handful of close friends. After multiple rejections by publishers, Young and his friends published the book under the name of their newly created publishing company. The Shack was one of the top-selling fiction books of 2008 and will be a major motion picture in Spring 2017.
Young lives in Happy Valley, Oregon with his wife and has six children and several grandchildren. He is also the author of Crossroads, Eve and the non-fiction book, Lies We Believe About God.
I know, I know. Everyone loves this book. No fewer than forty-three people asked me "Have you read The Shack yet?"
Invariably, they responded to my negative response with something along the lines of "You have to! It changed my life! I was full of questions, and life stunk, and then I read the book, and God made sense to me, I understood quantum physics effortlessly, and all of a sudden I could spin flax into gold!"
So, what I'm about to say is going to make a lot of people pretty angry.
The Shack appears to me to be an ex-hippie's best attempt at amalgamating God, Dr. Phil, and Oprah. The writing is bad, the story is cheesy, the format is formulaic and cliche, and the theology is spotty and poorly explained at best, and downright heretical at worst.
I was not impressed. If it makes a lot of people think hard thoughts about God that they'd rather avoid, then I suppose that's fine. I'm just not sure hard thinking should be done at the expense of clear thinking. And I'm certain bad writing is no way to advance good theology (even if this were).
Having had such high hopes for this book, I was sadly disappointed about its content, being for the most part simply unbiblical. Yes, there were poignant scenes and emotional moments that moved me to tears- but that does not tip the scales against all of the errors slipped in and truths that were twisted. Being protective especially of new Christians, I strongly caution anyone about reading it. This book should be read with much discernment.
Please read the Bible and learn about the Way, the Truth, and the Life! There is nothing good about this book that the Lord can't teach you without it.
07-26-17 UPDATE: Hi guys! I've meant to come back to this review, especially since the movie came out, but I haven't had the time or energy. Yes, OF COURSE God can use anything to reach people. Nothing is impossible with Him! Years ago, He used the first few chapters of a book to remind me of His love for me and bring me back to Him. I stopped reading it once I realized it was a prosperity gospel book, but it had served its purpose. I wouldn't recommend reading that book to anyone, and I don't recommend anyone read this book either. Why? Because it preaches (yes, preaches) a different gospel and does not line up with the Word of God.
A close family member of mine was one of the first people to read this book. She and the author talked back and forth at length about the theology of it. He wrote it to share his views and theology with his children and it got around and became a book. My family member gave it to our whole family and told us what a life-changing book it had been for her. She highlighted it and scribbled in the margins like a Bible. This was a pivotal and instrumental book in her life. I'll just say I have seen what the fruit of Universalism is. Live like hell and go to heaven, even "murderers are God's children", it was all forgiven at the cross--without repentance. "If Jesus doesn't judge me, then who the f*** do you think you are?" No, I'm sorry to say this is not just a book of fiction. This book has led many away from the true Gospel.
So many are aching to know God. To know and FEEL the love of God. God is love. But God is also righteous, just, and holy. Universalism is not the Good News. The Good News is that God loved the world so much He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the sin of the world upon Himself and sacrifice His perfect, sinless life and body for us to make atonement for our sins and rescue us from the penalty of sin, hell--but we must believe in Him, choose Him, repent of our sins, and submit to His loving authority.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
"Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:45-48)
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
He must be our Savior AND Lord.
"And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)
As an aside, the disrespectful way Jesus was portrayed drove me nuts. He was God in the flesh, not a mere clumsy human. ...I cannot go into all of the errors in this book today. I don't have the time. It reminded me of when Jesus was tempted in the desert and satan twisted scripture at every turn. Jesus, as the Word of God, was more than able to contradict the enemy's lies and silence him with scripture.
In response to why I delete some comments... Way back when I opened my private Goodreads account, I thought my reviews were only for my private Goodreads friends. Amazon only had two negative reviews of this book at the time (I read it before it really took off) so I figured I'd put this out there for my close friends. I was taken aback when people started posting on my review...many were furious with me and slammed me for being judgmental and bigoted. People who didn't know me in real life. The hilarity of calling me of all people judgmental and bigoted would have made me laugh if it hadn't make me so mad. Ha! Some members would friend me only to send me awful messages and I had to request Goodreads to block one particularly vicious member. So yes, if someone is condescending or rude, I delete their comment. If they are so off-the-wall, I don't have time to reply, I delete their comment. Frankly, I find venomous comments ironic considering what the book teaches. They can spew hate on their own review. Thankfully, I have the authority to delete comments on mine. If you want to post about how your religious degrees and pedigrees or experiences give you the right to belittle me or "people like" me, do it on your own review. None of that will change my "narrow" mind. God has given me peace and discernment about this book. I have four kids and little time or patience for anonymous disrespect and online arguments.
I understand how attached we become to our books--especially the ones special to our hearts. I can see how this would be that special book to some. However, I stand by my original review. God bless you all and guide you to Himself.
Pure drivel. This book read like a Betty Crocker recipe gone bad: take one all-American Jesus lovin’/fearing family, add one unexplainable tragedy, mix with equal parts anger , guilt and sadness , bake for three weeks and get a bitter man who has turned his back on God. Alias, no need to give up, because God writes our hero a personalized note, and tells him to meet him in “the shack” (the place of his daughter’s murder), funny thing is, god is a black woman cooking pancakes in the kitchen who says “you can me god, Yahweh or just plain ol’ Jessie, I answer to all three”. Yes, I said pancakes….I could go on, but it’s just too easy. The lesson of power of forgiveness was demonstrated well, but no better than the Hallmark card I bought my boss when I spilled a whole bottle of red wine on his new suit…..
I was recommended this book by several people who found it both moving and fresh. So Mr. Young certainly has an audience for this glib encounter between Mack, the “everyman,” and God. I, however, must not be the intended audience. Despite the fact millions of copies have been sold and the book has climbed its way to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List, I found The Shack to be preachy and fake to the point of insincerity. The main characters are so flat and one-dimensional that one can barely believe they are in need of redemption. By all accounts Nan is the perfect wife. So much so, she harbors no ill-will or judgments against her husband, even when their young daughter is kidnapped while in Mack’s care. The rational among us realize that it was not Mack’s fault young Missy was snatched by a serial killer, but one can hardly suspend their disbelief that in the face of such tragedy, the family confronts little of the typical doubt and blame so many have felt under similar circumstances. Granted occasionally guilt creeps to the surface, as Missy’s sister Kate becomes sullen and silent, blaming herself for her sister’s fate, but all in all the family appears to do quite well. I supposed this shouldn’t surprise the reader, however. Mack has already overcome many trials, including horrible abuse at the hands of his father. In spite of leaving home at a tender age, Mack becomes educated, successful and a wonderful husband and father. Sound too good to be true? Don’t worry; the author is Mack’s long time friend and confidant, chosen by Mack to write this detailed account of his spiritual transformation. Or is he? In the forward, Mr. Young journals about his friendship with Mack, his struggle to truly believe Mack’s story and ultimately his decision to help Mack turn his experience into a book. But wait, this book is fiction, and despite the author William Young inserting himself into the story as the gun-wielding, jeep-owning “Willie,” this is not a memoir, it’s a novel. A literary device or dishonest intent, I’ll let you decide, but at very least it’s horribly misleading, lending credibility where it is not due. But that’s not the point is it? This book is “bringing a fresh perspective to the theological scene.” But I didn’t find it fresh or even slightly startling. Could it be that this #1 bestseller is actually dull and trite? Absolutely. Mr. Young attempts to grab the reader by making God the Father appear to Mack as a woman. Are you completely blown away? Unable to wrap your mind around the religious consequences? No? I didn’t think so, because at the very least, you’ve taken 7th grade Ancient Civilizations and you know that yes, there have been people, in fact, entire cultures that have pictured god as a woman. More recently, the cult classic film, Dogma, after a series of affronts on Christian assumptions (disgruntled angels wreaking havoc, descendants of Jesus walking among us), reveals that God is a girl! Oh, but Mr. Young goes a step further; his God is not just a woman, but a black woman. Does that make any difference? It shouldn’t. Young is assuming that our white Protestant values will be affronted by this depiction, making his novel all that more shocking and controversial. I for one am offended; certainly God can be represented as an african-american woman, but I do not find these ideas mind-blowing. The fact that Mr. Young does shows how little he really understands. His caricature of God- for that’s what it is- seems to only use proper grammar about 90% of the time (Is this what you think black people sound like, Mr. Young?) and his depictions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit fall flat. They are neither engaging nor inspiring. Only the scenes with the personification of God’s wisdom seem to have what this book is lacking – passion. Mack finally reveals what the rest of us have been feeling all along, anger – anger that a small child like Missy could be brutally murdered by an evil man, who gets away. And that brings me to “The Missy Project.” At the end of the book, right after the acknowledgements, the author tells us about this special project, and I think to myself, “Finally, after 250 pages, here’s something I can believe in. The author is going to donate all of his money from this horrible book to helping find missing children.” But I was disappointed – yet again. “The Missy Project” is just some strange scheme to sell more books. Yes, that’s right, Mr. Young lists ways you can help him get more copies of his book into circulation. Are you kidding me? And so I end this review with a challenge. If you really want to be spiritually transformed, don’t spend your money buying this book. Instead, go out and help someone in need or donate to a worthy cause. I guarantee it will be infinitely more rewarding.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I was given this book as a gift many years ago and read the first few chapters. I was annoyed by the profanity. I don't think it is ever okay for a Christian author to use profanity in any circumstances. Why not use alternative words especially in a fictional book. It's like the children who swear to try and shock people or to fit in with the crowd. Christians are called to do neither of these things....lose the profanity...it won't cost you any sales!
When members of the Trinity begin appearing in person to the main character as black women I threw the book away...I'm not going to say anymore. I just find it shocking that so many Christians have read and recommend this book...where is the discernment?? or the adherence to Biblical principles.
First off this will be lengthy so don’t feel you have to read it . This is a hard book to review because you pretty much have to separate it into two parts. The novel, and the theological.
This man is not a writer. As far as the novel aspect of this book, I don't personally believe it is well written. Both the descriptions and dialogue don't ring true to me. But if delve into a little of the back story regarding this author you find that he never intended this book to be published. After experiencing several tragedies in his life he spent a lot of time trying to figure out who God is and with the encouragement of his wife wrote this novel as a gift to his children. Friends read it and encouraged him to have it published.
As far as the theological aspect goes I think he presents God in a way that challenges our notions of who exactly we think he is. It seems to be done in a deliberate way and to be honest it sometimes made me uncomfortable. This was written by someone who believes in the Trinity but was making attempts to show how they function separately. All of the characterization of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and their interactions with each other felt off to me. However the conversations they have with the main character provided some amazing insight to me as to the love God has for us and just exactly how arrogant we can be in our judgements of God's decisions whether those judgements be conscious or not.
Here are a couple condensed conversations that particularly spoke to me:
Jesus asks the main character what he is afraid of. “Well, I’m afraid of looking like an idiot... I imagine that–“ “Exactly,” Jesus interrupted. “You imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes you so like me. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster. If I may prove my case, do you think that humans were designed to live in the present or the past or the future?” The main character responses with the present. Jesus says “So tell me, where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination?” The main character replies “I suppose I would have to say that I spend very little time in the present. For me, I spend a big piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out the future.” Jesus responds “Not unlike most people. When I dwell with you, I do so in the present - I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And for sure I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you? It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear. You do this because you don’t believe. You don’t know that I love you. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don’t know it.”
Another one where God is speaking:
“Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from cause people can’t see what never happened. All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.... ...one of the reasons it makes no sense to you is because you have such a small view of what it means to be human. You and this Creation are incredible, whether you understand it or not. You are wonderful beyond imagination. Just because you make horrendous and destructive choices does not mean you deserve less respect for what you inherently are - the pinnacle of my Creation and the center of my affection.”
All in all I’m very glad I read this book. No one knows the mind of God, but I appreciated this man’s insight into the love God has for us.
It is hard to not get carried away and be too effusive about this book. When one has spent time with someone or something, it is natural to feel a close connection to that thing and, I think, lose objectivity. Obviously I didn't try too hard to be calm and subdued in my praise because one can see that I rated it 5 stars; however, I think I will start with why I don't think it is a 5-star book.
It wasn't a book that I just couldn't put down. This is usually a prerequisite for me to rate a book so highly, but at times--not all the time--I could take it or leave it.
The entire beginning of the book bored me and seemed second rate. The characters and conversations didn't ring true to me. I only kept at it because I had heard that something amazing would await me later in the book. Also, I never forgot that this was a book and a story that someone made up. When my attitude towards the book changed as it became more meaty, I still felt that story-wise, it was cliche, predictable, and even hokey. When it came together at the end, I did have a greater appreciation of the way the plot elements came together, but most of the time I thought certain components of the story weren't very well done.
An example would be the part where the relationships at the campground are being described. People in real life don't act like that, where total strangers get so close in the span of a weekend camping trip. I especially rolled my eyes over the dialog the adults had over a campfire--"So tell me, Mackenzie, what is she like." I just thought the conversations were not at all what real people who have just met are like. I could be wrong, though.
I also cringed sometimes at the conversations that occurred at the shack. Not because I felt them to be irreverent, but because they seemed like the author decided, "Hey, I want to try to stick something funny in here," and what ensued was a huge departure from the usual profound observations. I think he could have been both funny and profound at the same time, and he wasn't-- he was mostly just obvious.
Okay, enough bashing, because this was an incredible book that should be read by everybody. That I rated this a 5 in spite of the things that I didn't like, should tell you that there is something very amazing about this book. There is no way I can convey the impact of the thought-provoking and possibly life-changing conversations we become privy to. I don't know that you would much care for the book if you were a total athiest, not atuned to the spiritual at all, but people of all spiritual and religious persuasions will find aspects of this book deeply worth pondering. You must read it.
The following section contains what might be some spoilers for some people, but I wanted to mention them (being a little vague) as parts of the book that I particularly appreciated.
When Mac is telling his guests about his family and stops saying, "Now here I am telling you about my kids and my friends and about Nan, but you already know everything that i am telling you, don't you?
"You're acting like it's the first time you heard it."
The response from Mac's hosts is great:
"As we are listening to you, it is as if this is the first time we have known about them, and we take great delight in seeing them through your eyes."
I also like the part that talks about fear in our life and the role it plays in our bondage:
"The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it, you talk about it, but you don't know it."
Right now I can't read that to my wife without choking up, it so cuts to the quick.
And this about lies (not the lies people tell to stay out of trouble, but the lies we believe about ourselves or others as a defense mechanism):
"Lies are a little fortress; inside them you can feel safe and powerful. Through your little fortress of lies you try to run your life and manipulate others."
And finally, there is this gem about The Law, specifically, the Ten Commandments:
"Actually, we wanted you to give up trying to be righteous on your own. It was a mirror to reveal just how filthy your face gets when you live independently."
These were some of the interesting parts of the book that helped me personally. There were other parts that I thought were very dubious theologically. I thought there was so much real good valuable stuff that these departures could be overlooked, but this is not a theologically sound book and I can't caution that enough. It has some profound nuggets mixed in, however.
Anyway, the counter at the bottom of this box says I can writ almost 6000 more characters, but I will not. I must say, you have to read this book. Don't miss out on this. I am very serious.
While most of my friends seem to have a love or hate relationship with this book, I can't say that I do. I am the rare reader that didn't have a strong opinion about this book, one way or the other. I found it to be good and entertaining enough, but I didn't find it to be life-changing or especially inspirational for me. It was certainly a change from my usual type of story, so that was refreshing in a sense. However, in the end it was in the "good but not great" category for me.
'The Shack' tells the story of Mackenzie, aka "Mack", whose youngest daughter was abducted and murdered. Mack is expectedly devastated and distraught. He is also exceptionally angry at God, feeling that a worthy god wouldn't have allowed such a heinous crime to occur to such an innocent young girl as his daughter, Missy.
Understandably, Mack is never the same man after the loss of Missy. His relationships are forever changed as he drowns in his own guilt and misery. He has lost faith and turns his back on God.
When Mack receives a note in his mailbox from God, luring him back to the cabin where his daughter was murdered, he doesn't know what to think. Could somebody be so cruel as to play this type of a sick joke on him? Is the murderer still watching and toying with him? Could the murderer want to kill him as well? Is it possible that Missy could still be alive?
Mack doesn't know what to think. However, he knows that he won't be able to rest until he gets to the bottom of it. Borrowing a Jeep from a friend, he sets out for the cabin - the site of his worst nightmares.
During his time at the cabin, Mack has if forced to confront his loss of faith. Over the course of the book, he gets the closure that he needed and leaves a changed man. It was about as rosy as it could get for a book that centered on the murder of a child.
Personally, I didn't feel any great sense of peace or satisfaction while reading this story. While I can see why some people felt that this book restored their faith and gifted them with a greater sense of empathy, it just didn't work that way for me. I saw where author was going, I just wasn't jumping on board that train.
In fact, I think I was more upset with Missy's killer by the end of the book than Mack was. I couldn't let it go. I wanted vengeance and justice for her young life. I wasn't going to be satisfied unless the child murderer was found and put to death. That's just me though, I'm bloodthirsty like that.
I'm also not what I would consider to be a very religious person. I don't offend easily and I respect the views of others. I was raised as a Methodist, but I'm not a devout follower by any means.
That being said, nothing ever amazes me like the lack of tolerance that many self-professed "Christians" have for anyone with views that differ from their own. (Not that this is a phenomenon exclusive to Christians either. There seems to always be some in every group/religion.) We all know them, they're the "my way or the highway" and "what I believe is right and your beliefs are wrong" people. A quick glance at the reviews for this book revealed that it has garnered lots of that type of attention--no big surprise there.
On the one hand, I can see that the author attempted to bridge the gap and present a book that might cross religions. However, since the book was so heavily based on Christian principles and beliefs, this attempt fell flat. It was clear that the god presented was based on Christian teachings.
Yet, even amongst Christians there are many differences in theology. This author focused largely upon one of those areas where different denominations have varying beliefs -- free will vs. predestined fate. The author was clearly in the "free will" camp. Not surprisingly, readers who fall in the "predestined fate" camp will take issue with one of the major premises of the story.
If you are able to appreciate a story that has strong religious themes that may or may not align with your beliefs, then you might enjoy this one. I found it to be a good story, but I would have liked to feel more of a sense of justice. Things at the end were too nice, tidy and convenient for me.
If I were a more religious person, I might have enjoyed it more, or I might have despised it...who knows? It might be a great choice if you're looking for somebody's response to the age-old question, "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" For me it was good, just not great.
Note: After several friends challenged me to read the book again (I assume they wanted me to upgrade The Shack to five stars), I indeed read it a second time. As a result, I downgraded it another star. There are things I noticed the second time I didn't the first.
Added to my review below are several more specific drawbacks of the book. Unfortunately, every one of these would have been pointed out by first or second year writing students, which simply reiterates my main point below: Shame on you Wayne Jacobsen for ruining a good book by not bothering enough to edit this properly. Simply because you wanted another "anti-organized-church" book on the market, and probably saw this as a vehicle (not a good one for that purpose either) is not an excuse for allowing the following:
1. Sloppy synonyms: No one outside of bodice-rippers uses the word "visage" for "face". I lost count how many times this word is used. It is an example of the author reaching for the thesaurus when he got bored. Elementary writing classes teach "In dialogue, use the words "he said" instead of "he opined" or other such synonyms". I would gladly pay for Young to take a writing course in lieu of Jacobsen editing another of his books.
2. Inconsistencies of plot: In one scene, the narrator - who is supposedly writing down what the main character told him - tells us what is playing on the television while the main character is passed out. How can he possibly know this? Second, why does it matter? The plot is full of these little annoying inconsistencies. The biggest and most annoying is this vague reference to a possible murder of his father. Couldn't the boy just run away from home? Did he really have to spike the dad's beer with rat poison? Did the dad die? If he does, why haven't the police come after him? If he doesn't, what is he apologizing for in the great forgiveness sequence? As I said, these inconsistencies are glaring.
3. I re-read one paragraph where the author uses nine similes! Two of them concern tears and are in the same sentence. Someone please sit this author down and explain that similes and metaphors are to open windows. We don't need an entire glass factory delivered to us every page.
4. I listened to an interview with the author. He explained that this book started out as a transcription of conversations between him and God and that the story was a convenient way of bringing those conversations to light. That makes sense. It also explains why the conversations go on and on and on and on. The plot stops every time there is an elongated conversation. Mr. Young, please read the Chronicles of Narnia and see how to write a half-page dialogue that says more by saying less.
Unfortunately, this is only the start of what is beginning to annoy me about a book that I wanted to like. Read below for my full review.
So many of my friends have recommended this book that I knew I would read it and feel strongly about it. That's an understatement. There are no Spoilers in this review.
Before I began reading I wanted so much to like this book. Partly because I respected the friends who recommended it and partly because this is the author's first book. As some of you know, I personally believe that most authors have one great book in them and it is often their first (see Tracy Chevalier and J. K. Rowling). That is why I was somewhat disappointed with my reading of the first few chapters. The writer could have used a ghost writer to clean up his prose. He overwrites like a young author. Specifically, he uses too many deliberate similes and altogether too many adjectives. In fact, on the same page he uses three different similes to describe the wind. Can it really be a food group and a sigh at the same time? I digress.
He also gets "cutsie" with his description of the main character Mack. The author needs to choose a voice to speak from. The third person omnipotent is not working for him. If you're not familiar with that POV, it is the tendency to describe what every character is thinking. Usually writers choose third person specific, meaning they know the thoughts of only one person. But later the author figures this out and sticks with the main character and lets him discover the story as it happens. So, I guess my only real criticism is that the author is not a tremendously skilled writer.
Therefore, a quarter of the way through the book I was ready to be done with it. Then I was delightfully surprised by what happened next. It seems he did an about-face as soon as he came to the kernel of the story. After the tragedy that forms the spine of the tale, he tightens up the writing and I never noticed the shortcomings after that. It is like the author himself really just wanted to get to this point in the story and realized the book wouldn't make sense and would be too short without the introductory part. So be it. From this point on, I was enthralled. His meeting with God and the subsequent discoveries of God's character and the meaning of the events he has recently lived are some of the best theology ever implanted in a story. At one point near the end I actually was in tears. It may be 20 years back to the last time a book brought me to tears. I ended the book totally satisfied.
If I may take one or two more liberties in criticizing a book I really enjoyed. As much as I enjoyed the folksy presentation of God in this story, there are parts that don't ring true. Holy Spirit still feels ethereal and standoffish. Wisdom's speeches are canned and the meals get repetitive. Major editing could have made this one of the great books of Christianity. Also, I doubt anyone outside Christianity will read past the first few chapters. That's a pity, but it is true. It is not written well enough and there are still too many obviously contrived parts to the plot to make it seem real to someone who is bent on criticizing Christian writers.
Some of my friends who love this book will really be annoyed that I am being over-analytical. But that is what a proper book review is about. These things need to be said in order to balance the attitude which says we must lift up anything with a good message. This is a phenomenal message hiding in a depressingly poor package.
Why did you make me do this book club? You all seem like nice people.....what did I do?
Seriously. I missed the book club meeting due to work or I would have yelled out at the top of my lungs 'NOOOOOOO, not The Shack!' But I wasn't there, so instead of reading Cloud Atlas, The Shack happened, and I let it happen with my absence.
*sigh* Where to begin.....
1. I am not a Christian. Strike one for The Shack and me. Many people are and that's fantastic, but this book was so stupid that I have hopes that any well informed, well read, reasonable Christian would have asked themselves 'What the fuck did I just read?' upon finishing this stinker.
2. Way back when, when this book first came out, friends and random people upon finding out I was a reader would look at me....their eyes would get a little wider as they suggested 'You should read The Shack!' Then they would creepily stare at me for a little too long. I'd say 'Thanks, I'll check it out' and I did and I read reviews from people I respect and then I put it in the 'never ever read for any reason even if my hair is on fire and the only thing that could put said fire out was The Shack and I still won't ever read it' file. I forgot to put the book club rider in the file. See, I fell for similar suggestions before and I was determined not to be fooled twice....silly me.
This book is pure drivel. As I was going through it I thought that it had to be a first effort from this author. Bingo. At the end of the book there was a note from the author in which he said 'I had never tried my hand at creative writing before.'
No shit Sherlock.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The characters in this book were not fleshed out at all. Most writers know that to develop a character you have them do things that show the reader who the person is....you don't just narrate what they did and how they felt. The reader has nothing invested and couldn't give two poops what happens to the characters when you tell instead of show. A little girl died violently in this book and I was completely unfazed by it. That is a miserable failure.
I can suspend disbelief in books about zombies, vampires, genius eleven year old girls, chimera, reasonable Republicans (okay, that one was difficult) but I couldn't do it with this book, or other books like it, because these books have a agenda to make you believe in the stuff they are writing about and that makes my stomach turn. At the beginning the ever narrating narrator narrated (and I paraphrase) 'You may not believe in Mac's story here. He doesn't care, maybe this book isn't for you'.....okay.....'But then again maybe it is!' ***drama sting****
Oh for fuck sake. Really?
I tried to figure out who this book was written for. Was it for non Christians and he thought he needed to dumb it down for us because we must have never had read the Bible (or had a critical thought) or we would be Christian....of course. Or was it preaching to like minds....or maybe three year old's?
I could go on and on about how much I hated this book. I could point out that in this book 'God' is a black woman, Jesus is a middle eastern Jew with a big nose (Mac believed he was supposed to be good looking...WTF?) and the Holy Ghost was not some guy with a sheet over his head running around saying 'boo' but was a woman of undetermined Asian decent.
And the author thought himself progressive and hip by coming up with these 'radical' ideas....well, maybe, sadly they are for some special folk; but to me it just felt forced, racist and sexist...in my humble opinion.
5 stars? Ya, I know it's crazy because I guess this is a super-controversial book... but I am rating it this way because of it's impact - not because of it's sound theology. The view of the trinity in this book is one I had never considered. And, although it challenged a LOT of my fundamentalist upbringing, it inspired me to return to the Bible and learn more - find the closeness with God described in The Shack and to see what God's Word said regarding his triune relationship. NEVER should anyone replace the Bible with a book that is claimed to be fiction by it's own author - but 5 stars to the man who can make your heart yearn to know more about the Lord through a fiction tale.
The book at times moves you to laugh, to cry and to dig deeper.
So... that's my review... As of late people, in the Christian circle, have been discussing whether or not it is 'right' to read a book... Since when has it been wrong to read anything? I would really LOVE to read the Koran. But - I want to READ it - Not BELIEVE in it. If your faith is not strong enough to discern between fact and fiction than, really there are more important things to worry about... And you know what? The Shack is an extremely popular book right now. So, people are going to talk about it. There are even non-christians reading it and asking questions... I have no idea what they are talking about if I have not read it. Now, the Bible can answer all of their questions... I just might not understand the context.
Some reviews by Christians, of whom their opinion is valued, have even gone so far as to call the act of putting the Holy Spirit and God the Father in human form - sinful. That is dangerous ground in my opinion. The author is admittedly a Christian. A God-fearing, deity of Christ believing man. And, his work is admittedly fiction. Is it not just as dangerous to portray God in animal form? As a lion perhaps? But we don't question the validity of CS Lewis' works. And - have you read "The Last Battle"? Not exactly correct theology there - yet fundamentalist Christian churches across the globe don't hesitate to teach sermon after sermon on the symbolism of the redemption story.
Have you reviewed The Shack without reading it? Or, have you put words in the authors mouth without asking him his intentions? I hope I never write a book. I am as sinful as it gets... And, I know that if I write a piece of work I too will deserve to be called sinful - BECAUSE I AM.... and you know what? So are you. Let authors have their creative freedom. Let people read what they want to and help them to discern the truth from it. If we want people to grow to maturity - shouldn't we let them question their faith a little? And stop scaring people away from having honest questions... It's time to get off the milk like babes and learn to eat solid food. We do that through questioning... and then affirming the truth.
The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, William Paul Young
The Shack is a novel by Canadian author William P. Young that was published in 2007. The novel is set in the American Northwest. The main character is Mackenzie Allen Phillips, a father of five called "Mack" by his family and friends. Four years prior to the main events of the story, Mack takes three of his children on a camping trip to Wallowa Lake near Joseph, Oregon, stopping at Multnomah Falls on the way. Two of his children are playing in a canoe when it flips and almost drowns Mack's son. Mack is able to save his son by rushing to the water and freeing him from the canoe's webbing but unintentionally leaves his youngest daughter Missy alone at their campsite.
After Mack returns, he sees that Missy is missing. The police are called, and the family discovers that Missy has been abducted and murdered by a serial killer known as the "Little Ladykiller". The police find an abandoned shack in the woods where Missy was taken. Her bloodied clothing is found, but her body is not located. Mack's life sinks into what he calls "The Great Sadness". ...
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نخست ماه سپتامبر سال2010میلادی
عنوان: کلبه - رمان؛ نویسنده: ویلیام پل یانگ، با همیاری: وین جیکوبسن، و برد کامینگر؛ مترجم: مریم جاویدحسینی، تهران روزگار، سال1388؛ در یک جلد بدون شماره گذاری (328ص)؛ شابک9789643742195؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان کانادا - سده21م
کتاب «کلبه (عنوان اصلی لرزش: جاییکه تراژدی با ابدیت روبرو میشود)» رمانی لطیف، و معنوی اثر «ویلیام پل یانگ» با همکاری «وین جیکوبسن» و «برد کامینگر» است؛ داستان زیبایی است، درباره ی اینکه چگونه خداوند همگان را از میان چنگال ناامیدیها، پیدا میکند، و هیچگاه کسی را هر آنجا که هست رها نمیکنند، مگر اینکه خودمان بخواهیم؛ «مک» که دوران کودکی دشواری را با یک پدر هماره مست بگذرانده، و از خانه فرار کرده، در سالهای پیری خود، و زمانی که دارای خانواده و پنج فرزند بزرگ، و موفق و زیبا شده، و یک بیماری سخت را هم، پشت سر گذاشته، از دوستش خواهش میکند، سرگذشت او را برای فرزندان، و همسرش بنویسد، تا بتواند ژرفای عشقش را به خانواده اش نشان دهد، و دنیای درونش را به آنها بشناساند (همان جایی که تنها و فقط خو��تان هستید، و شاید خداوند؛ اگر به او اعتقاد داشته باشید؛ البته خدا ممکن است آنجا باشد حتی اگر به او باور نداشته باشید؛ این عین ذات خدا است؛ او را بیدلیل، حاضر مطلق نمینامند.)؛ و دوستشان میپذیرد تا داستان تحول درونی «مک» را بنویسد؛ داستان نامه ای با امضای خداوند (پاپا)، که «مک» درست زمانی آنرا دریافت میکند، که دختر کوچکش «میسی»، در یک تفریح خانوادگی، کنار دریاچه ناپدید شده است؛ در نامه، از «مک» خواسته شده، که برای دیدار با خدا، به کلبه ای برود، که از آن یادمانی خوش و دل انگیز نداشت؛ «کلبه» رمانی دینی است، که بیش از همه، عشق و رحمانیت خدا را، تصویر میکند؛ رمانی تأثیرگذار که بارها میتوان آن را خواند، و با خوانش آن، پرده از جلوی چشمها کنار میرود، و میتوان زنگارهای دل را نیز ستُرد!...؛ زمانی که خیال یک نویسنده، و احساسات یک پژوهشگر الهیات، در هم آمیزند، حاصلش رمانی همانند همین «کلبه» میشود
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 15/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
7/30 don't even go there. I have to read this because I made a promise. silly me. 7/31 - God, I am glad that's over. So, I thought long and hard about giving this book 2 stars. I really did. Here's why:
1. author states heaven is NOT gold/pearl streets. (yay!) 2. author states forgiveness is good for you. not forgiving will destroy you. (agreed) 3. "Jesus" states he's not big on religion, or politics or economics. Calls them a "man- created trinity of terrors that ravage the earth..." WORD.
Why I took that 2 star rating and dropped it to one:
1. God appears in the book as a big black woman named Papa. She says sho' nuff and serves greens. (no, I'm NOT kidding!) 2. Jesus appears as an unattractive Jew with, get this: a big nose. 3. Holy spirit - little Asian woman. 4. Mack's dad is Irish American and guess what? He's a drunk! 5. Judge lady - Hispanic! (Hell, why not go all Sesame Street and make sure we have someone in a wheelchair and HIV positive people represented!?!?! Ah, sneak those guys in on the next edition.) 6. Not a thing in here was comforting. Not a one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Having had no understanding of this books content before opening it, I must admit it rocked my little world a bit. It is incredibly well written and engaging from the start. I don’t want to say too much as I think this book is meant to be experienced with as little influence as possible. I will say it made me see many things in a much different way. It helped me grasp something that I struggle with and ultimately confirmed some of my own thoughts about things. I am being cryptic I know—but I don’t want to spoil it for the reader. It is well worth the read and more importantly done with a group so dialogue can occur afterwards. A very thought provoking book that has left me wanting to buy a copy for everyone.
I did NOT like this book. I kept hearing how good it was and got it from the library with no idea what it was about. The idea of a guy who loses faith in god because his child is abducted and then gets invited back to "the shack" where his daughter was found...this time to spend a weekend with god...is not my idea of appealing literature.
This book was recommended to me by a book group I attended to speak about my book A Demon Awaits. I had not read this book prior to writing mine, but I was very surprised to find that the premise of our books (a man struggling to heal his relationship with God) was identical. Before I continue I’d like to share a bit of my bias because one’s perspective will vastly affect the enjoyment of this book. I’m staunchly conservative, religiously, politically and economically. I’m also a writer and I choose NEVER to review a book that I don’t find to be very strong. Someone with a more liberal viewpoint will appreciate this book even more than I did.
This book reaches out to a generation of people losing touch with God and encourages them to reach for him. While churches are rocked by scandal and divided over the issue of homosexuality and its place in God’s eyes, church attendance diminishes. This book takes the subject of our relationship with God and urges us to mend our relationship with him. I cannot imagine a more important subject for a book and I applaud the author for writing a book that has reached so many. Not only is this book popular, but it puts the conversation with God center stage and this conversation carries the majority of the book. (Young chooses not to address the issue of homosexuality and the church.)
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone.
There is a tremendous amount of the author’s philosophy delivered in this book that I will react to through the remainder of this review.
Characterization of God Young creates a character who is angry at God over the death of his daughter. In the end the character takes a difficult journey toward reconciliation. The subject matter will touch millions of people. Young’s characterization of God was a surprising choice. When I wrote A Demon Awaits, I thought a long time about how God should be portrayed in fiction and I struggled with a way to make him appear in a way that not only moved the story, but was also reverent. We both used some of the same devices to bring God to the page, but our focus was vastly different. Young’s characterization offended me as irreverent and disrespectful at times. I felt uncomfortable in the early part of the book and this connected me with Mack who was feeling much the same.
The Church Young assaults the church as something created by man that God has no interest in. I found this highly irresponsible. I agree that the earthly church is created by and run by man and as such is fallible. Still, my experience with church leaders has been one of utter joy, learning and spiritual growth. To suggest that these fine people could be replaced by blindly reaching out to God without a guide of any sort sounded illogical to me. Young also suggest that we should disregard the Ten Commandments as an unattainable ideal. The Ten Commandments played a more guiding role in my book.
Tragedy and Healing Much of the book focuses on the tragedy Mack struggles with in his life. This element of the story was superbly done and I know that this element of the book has touched people who have lost loved ones and especially some who are terminally ill. The power of this story will bring peace into many lives because this topic is tackled head-on by a believable character. The author discusses our independence and God’s willingness to intercede in our lives to a great extent. This facet of the story will be a great healer to many and is one of the strongest reasons to recommend this book.
Crime & Responsibility Young skirts the issue of crime and criminals somewhat. God says that he loves his children all equally no matter what they have done and this is shown in a very strong scene in the text. This one scene was probably the best of the entire work. Counter to this, or maybe because of the focus, Young suggests that responsibility is a man-made construction that has no use in God’s eyes. The idea that we could all live together in peace and harmony sounds lovely, but ignores the fact that we live in a world with lots of “broken” souls. The Puritans were clear about responsibility and made sure that able-bodied people worked or starved. We have strayed very far from the principle of responsibility and I thought it was highly irresponsible of the author to suggest that we don’t need to act responsibly. I personally think that if people strived and were honest about what they were capable of and what they could contribute to our society, then we could take much better care of those who are not able to work to support themselves.
There is much I disagree with in his approach, but I commend the author on a book that is both popular and important.
The Shack is a book you will thank yourself for reading. While it can be a bit didactic at times, it is not overtly so. It’s more a story of journey and relationship—discovering who you are through learning more about who God is to you. I’m no theologian, but I do like to imagine myself as the Theophilus Luke is writing to in the Book of Acts. So I read the book as a God-Lover and I write this review in the same vein.
It begins with an unspeakably horrible tragedy happening to a loving father. (By way of explanation, I cannot write this review without at least giving that much away.) It’s the sort of nightmare every devoted parent dreads and secretly fears. In the aftermath of the disaster, the main character, Mack, attempts to put his life back together but finds he cannot. The devastation is too great; the chasm created by his loss is so unfathomable, his faith in a loving God is shattered.
Mack receives a strange and seemingly preposterous invitation to meet God at the very site – the shack – the scene where the unspeakable crime against his loved one occurred. The rest of the story is about Mack’s meeting with God which is unlike any other fictional description I have ever read of a Divine encounter. If you have ever longed to see God you will certainly appreciate this book. If you have experienced – or are going through – your own 'Agony in the Garden' time in your life this book may be a very cathartic aid. It's my belief that this is The Shack's real purpose. As such, God is presented most beautifully as Relationship-in-Love. God is three distinct persons whose love for each other is One and yet extends to each of us, His creatures. Mack heals as we may also heal to the extent to which we open to God’s love.
As I mentioned early on, I'm no expert in Theology and I have no doubt there are theological errors in The Shack.
God as God, The Almighty, Our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, the Holy Spirit, etc. who has been worshipped, studied, prayed to, fought over and died for – for millennium, was not just suddenly figured out in 2007 by William P. Young and explained in 248 pages of fiction. This book is by no means definitive nor the last word on God. It is however, wonderful. It is a moving and a loving tribute to getting to know Him better. It is a helpful way to look at how God views the tragedies that happen in our lives. He does not inflict them on us. He suffers right along with us ... just as He did 2000 years ago.
For those looking for a more 'catholic' perspective on The Shack, here is an excellent review by Fr. Robert Barron. Thanks Karina for this link!
If you read one book in your life, read this one. I shall not delve into the story; let's just say this author thinks like I do. He also struggles with the same things I do; How to deal with people who have hurt others in the most heinous way. I really can't go into this too much; you just have to read it for yourself to understand how I feel about religion, "church", and the Trinity. We humans are so busy trying to control each other and control ourselves, that we miss the true message. It's so simple, I'm sure many will miss it. And that, I believe, is the whole point. God's watching, waiting, and smiling. Pick up a copy, read it, and open your heart to the true message of God... You will be changed forever if you do.
Jedna od većih misterija za mene... Kako je ta knjiga postala bestseler kada sam naišla samo na jednu osobu kojoj se dopala a većina onih koji su se zeznuli i kupili knjigu, nisu uspeli da nadju nijednu lepu reč... Lično, mislim da je ova knjiga namenjena američkom mentalitetu...
In case you can't read it, the tagline on this is "Where tragedy confronts eternity."
This is the story of Mack, a man whose 6-year-old daughter was abducted and brutally murdered during a family camping trip. The serial killer, a man who leaves a ladybug pin everytime he kills a child, was never captured, and the only clue to Missy's abduction was an undeniable, bloodstained red sundress on the floor of an abandoned shack high up in the middle of nowhere. Now, four years after Missy's murder, her father receives a letter in his mailbox -- from God -- inviting him back to the scene of the crime, a return to The Shack where the trail of evidence ended.
Mack, who has been living under what he quietly calls The Great Sadness for the past four years, is enraged. What kind of sick prank is this? The letter is either from Missy's killer, who could be luring Mack away from his remaining four children so he can strike again, or it is really... from God. Fearing to be thought crazed with unresolved grief, Mack packs his Jeep with a gun and his daughter's picture, and heads back up to The Shack: where tragedy confronts eternity.
God is waiting for Mack. But it's not the God of Mack's parents or even the God of his church. This is a God who delights in nothing so much as standing conventions and preconceived notions on their heads and messing with his children's hearts. This is a God who stands in the kitchen stirring cake batter and telling Mack, "The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can preceive, which often isn't much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I'm not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think."
And that weekend, right there at The Shack, God and Mackenzie Phillips wrestle with the problem of pain, of suffering, of free will and judgment and heartache and the very nature of godhood in a way that is entirely authentic and deep.
Now because I would not be a good book reviewer if I failed to address the nuts and bolts of this book, I'll do my job now: William P. Young, this book's author, is a virutal unknown. The book was published by Windblown Media, also an unknown. The language in the book is coarse, not in the sense that it is foul, but in the sense that an inexperienced author is trying to emulate the colloquialsms of African-American dialect and at times utterly forgets that he is supposed to be doing this, falling back easily into Standard American English. Because of this, the book lacks a certain cohesion. There are also misplaced modifiers that an experienced editor would have caught and fixed before sending the manuscript to the printer. One can only hope that future printings of this will see these minor errors accounted for and fixed...
And now here is the hope: when my best friend from high school first gave me a copy of this book and begged me to read it, I groaned inwardly. It was printed on 50# bright white offset (a very cheap paper). It was run cross-grain, making it very difficult to open (a very cheap way to print). And it was published by a virtually unknown publishing house. Because of these strikes, it sat on the floor of my closet for quite sometime. Eventually, feeling I owed it to Laura to read the book, I picked it up and began... and rather than bringing my copy of the book to Borders, I would merely pick up a new copy and begin reading where I'd left off, whenever I happened to be near a bookstore. I got so caught up in the story that it took me some time to notice a change in The Shack. No more was it printed on cheap paper. No more was it difficult to pry open. It was now featured as a 6x9 book (this means it is running correct-grain, which is a much more expensive way to print a book) on 50# Cougar Natural Vellum (a much more expensive paper). Additionally, the tagline of "Where tragedy confronts eternity" was replaced with this: #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Wow. That's quite a change in 2 months.
To sum up my review: This book has the power to make all human artifice utterly fall away... to make the traffic out the window, the people in conversation next to you, the very coffee mug you hold in your hand, all seem infinitely unreal, while leaving you alone in the very presence of God. Posted by Nom de plume at 9:12 AM
I had to read this for book club and I did not like it. Bad theology wrapped up in a sappy soap opera type book.
I don't disagree with the message that God loves us and wants a relationship with us, but this book is so full of pot-holes and misinterpretations that renders it useless:
The Jesus character says: “My life was not meant to be an example to be copied....It is a means for your independence to be killed”.
Huh?? What Bible is the author reading? What about St. Paul telling us to be imitators of Christ. Is that really the reason for Christ's death on the cross?
It's also pretty obvious the author has trouble with authority of any kind, but most especially Church authority. It just made me wonder who has hurt him so deeply that he just throws out the baby with the bathwater.
That is just a snippet of what is so terribly wrong with this book. It is not worth the time or $$ to read. Instead get Athanasius' On the Incarnation or St. Irenaeus' Against Heresies or any other Church Father and dig deep into the well of Christian writings that have stood the test of time.
If there had been a 1/2 star option I would have given it that.
Es difícil evaluar un libro como este que, siendo ficción, toca temas religiosos. En primer lugar, he de decir que soy católica y que creo en Dios, así que mi opinión puede estar intoxicada por mis propias creencias. Sin embargo, me esperaba algo diferente... ¿Algo cómo qué? Ni idea. Por eso creo que lo mejor es que cada uno se forme su propia opinión.
When reading The Shack, be prepared some laughs and smiles, but mostly, be prepared for a well of tears. I'm a movie and book crier by nature. I'll admit that my wife and daughter give me the raised eyebrow and look at me strangely when I choke up while watching a sitcom and all I can do is sheepishly say, "Did you see how she helped that lady" or something like that. Well, be warned, if you also have a weakness for tears or if you are a father, the tears will hit you like a flood.
This book is a story of God sharing his heart with a broken man. The first section of the book will hit you in the chest, as it describes what the author calls "The Great Sadness" of the novels protagonist.
I'm a lover of well written novels and it was well over a decade ago that I decided there were way too many books being published every year, not to mention the thousands and thousands of good books previously written, to spend time reading a poorly written one. This book is an exception to that rule. It isn't the writing that kept me going, it was the content.
I don't know the authors story, but the jacket says that "he suffered a great loss as a child and young adult". The best books are those written about what an author knows - either researched or experienced. This is what you will find in The Shack. The author has wrapped a story around what he feels passionate about.
I won't give away the story or the message, but I will say that is resonated strongly with me. At the core it is about God's unfailing love for his children. His desire to draw every one of his children to him. How this love transcends our hurts and tragedies. How he ususes even the worst situations as avenues of redemption.
I didn't read The Shack with my theologian hat on. I didn't critique every line to evaluate how it stood up to my interpretation of systematic or historical theology. This is not a book of theology - I read it as a man sharing his heart and what he has learned on his journey - putting it in a fictional format.
It is his journey and heart that resonated with me.
Read The Shack - not for its literary prowness or theological intellectualism - but to be moved and challenged in your thinking of God.
I'll end with a brief sample to taste your appetite. This is Jesus conversing with the main character, Mack;
"Our is earth is like a child who has grown up without parents, having no one to guide and direct her." As Jesus spoke, his voice intensified in subdued anguish. "Some have attempted to help her but most have simply tried to use her. Humans, who have been given the task to lovingly steer the world, instead plunder her with no consideration other then their immediate needs. And they give little thought for their own children who will inherit their lack of love. So they use her and abuse her with little consideration and then when she shudders or blows her breath, they are offended and raise their fist at God." "This blue-green ball in black space, filled with beauty even now, battered and abused and lovely." "I know that song. You must care deeply about the Creation," smiled Mack. "Well, this blue-green ball in space belongs to me," Jesus stated emphatically."
I really enjoyed The Shack! I found it provided hope and gave answers to a lot of very dark and difficult questions. It's a book whose enjoyment will vary massively depending on your views toward faith and Christianity (if any) - I have relatives who are Christian and went to a Church of England Secondary School so it was something I was brought up around - which may be why I don't have such serious angry thoughts towards this book as I've seen other reviewers have. It follows Mack - whose young daughter Missy is abducted during a family camping trip and is later found murdered in a shack in the woods. Years later, struggling with his grief, Mack decides to return to the shack, as if it would help him at all. There he discovers God - but not as you would usually picture him! As I said it tackles some really tricky areas - and the question that I'm sure nearly everyone has asked.
Where is God when awful things happen and how are we ever supposed to come back from such unspeakable pain?
I liked it, it spoke to me and had a real impact - but I can easily understand why some may find it hard to stomach - one of the joys of the human race is that we are all different, so we can't all be affected by the same things.
A book that seems to inspire strong emotions - people seem to either love it or hate it.
I am a little surprised to see so many people who did not like the book. One reviewer maybe explained the wide disparity in the need to seperate the work of fiction itself with theology. Perhaps many people are put off by the imaginitive take on Biblical ideals.
As a work of fiction, I found it original and thought provoking. Theologically, it was ungrounded, yet working as an abstract parable, it illustrates God's uncompromising ability to love.
I'm not really sure why this book is so well liked. For me, it was just okay. I did enjoy the beginning of the book but when the main character meets "God" it became quite ridiculous and I had to force myself to finish it! It was just plain silly.
If you like your spirituality like a boxed dinner (just add meat!) then this book is for you.
A parent struggles with his worldview after a family camping trip ends in the abduction of his daughter by a serial rapist/killer. Divine intervention comes by way of an invitation to the place where his little girl breathed her last. Masochism, curiosity, and a longing for answers and closure compels him to go alone to the spot. God appears, taking three forms:
1. Big black Momma God ("Sho 'nuff", "True 'dat")
2. Jesus, the granola carpenter
3. The Holy Spirit, an Asian chick named Sarayu (The Cheshire Cat in disguise, fresh from the Betty Ford clinic)
These forms alternately challenge and minister to the main character. The voice telling the story is not the main character and may very likely sound like
1. Peter Falk, from the Princess Bride 2. Sam Elliot, voice of Smokey the Bear and narrator of the Big Lebowski 3. a clueless intruder who claims to be a friend of the curious masochist
The beginning of the book is blah, the middle drags (Oh yes, Jesus! How it drags!), and the end question and answer part does little to help the genre of spiritual fiction.
If you are looking for a skeletal plot to help move along a postmodern Christian/theological/spiritual framework I suggest A New Kind of Christian by Brian D McLaren.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.