At home in The Shack

For all those who asked me what I thought of The Shack, here you are, and I’m sorry I took so long to read it.

So many people asked me about William P Young’s book, The Shack, that I thought it must be just another one of those latest-greatest fads you see around Christian bookshops from time to time. But now that I’ve read it, I realize you were asking me because you thought I might personally resonate with it – and I do. Come to think of it, I have not been asked about other fad books in years. So I’m sorry I didn’t cotton-on sooner.

I felt quite at home in The Shack. So many ideas that may seem alarming to some, seem quite sound to me.

For example, the most controversial image was God’s appearance as a woman for the sake of the father-damaged Mack. God later appears as a man when a reconciliation and father-healing has happened. To me these elements of the story express the wonders of the incarnation and redemption: that Jesus is God made flesh and reveals himself to us gently & in a way we can relate to; and that God then redeems our brokenness to take us to a more whole relationship.)

And I loved how these insights were explored within the context of profound suffering. This was no easy approach to the topic.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Does that mean,” said Mack, “that all roads will lead to you?”
    “Not at all.” Jesus smiled as he reached for the dorr handle to the shop. Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”
  • “You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours, Mackenzie.” – Sarayu assuring Mack of her presence and interaction with him whether he senses it or not. This turn of phrase describes beautifully how I experience God most often.
  • Re: The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”When something happens, how do you determine whether it is good or evil?” …All of this sounds quite self-serving and self-centered … “Then it is you who determines good and evil. You become the Judge… So when your good and evil clash with your neighbor’s, fights and arguments ensue and even wars break out.”
  • “You might see me in a piece of art, or music, or silence, or through people, or in creation, or in your joy and sorrow. My ability to communicate is limitless, living and transforming, and it will always be tuned to Papa’s goodness and love. And you will hear me and see me in the Bible in fresh ways. just don’t look for rules and principles; look for relationship – a way of coming to be with us.” – Sarayu again, the personification of God’s wisdom / Spirit.

The emphasis on God as a Being-to-relate-to made far more sense of the historical data we have, and the experiences of myself and many others. This makes it a far more complete book that The Celestine Prophecy which I reviewed recently. I couldn’t help comparing them, since they both try to overview their spiritual insights through the medium of story.

For content, I also could not help comparing The Shack to my book, Treading On God’s Heels. If I had read The Shack beforehand, I may not have written my book. The Shack covers the topics in a much better story than I could weave. As it stands, however, readers of Treading On God’s Heels, will find straight talk about the same insights canvassed so skillfully in William P Young’s story.

Sure, if you lifted quotes out of the context of the whole book, you might have to ask some theological questions to determine Young’s views. For example he doesn’t deal much with hell in the way Jesus does. But the things he does say are fresh and helpful (and Biblical): about suffering and rights, law and relationship, freedom and love, forgiveness, and redemption.

Yep, Sally and I both felt quite at home in The Shack.