Monday, November 3, 2008

Reviewing The Shack

Gloria had read The Shack: "It's sooooo good," she told the women at the weekly church ladies' coffee. But Darlene was quick to disagree. "It's a dangerous book," she warned the group. That's why I read The Shack. To find out what all the furor was about.

(Yesterday's post contains the first chapter, and more info, about The Shack by William Young.)

There's a quote on the front cover of The Shack from Eugene Peterson which gushes, "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!" Let me first reply to that: um, probably not.

In the book, a man embittered by the murder of his six-year-old daughter years earlier, is invited to meet God at the shack where her blood-stained dress was found. What ensues is a long conversation between God and man, culminating in greater spiritual awareness.

If that sounds a bit cliched, well, read on.

What I liked about The Shack:
  • The Trinity is clearly portrayed as Father, Son and Spirit.
  • God is especially fond of each person he discusses, a great reminder of his everlasting love.
  • Forgiveness is a big part of Mack's healing - both with his father and with his children.
What I disliked about The Shack:
  • The cliches. The writing needed a serious editing job. Sentences like "He was doing just fine, thank you, until he reached the place in the driveway..." and "The story of Missy's disappearance is unfortunately not unlike others told too often" appear way too often throughout the book.
  • The long conversations. I'd like a story to show me, not tell me, and The Shack is really more of a long essay or sermon than much of a story. I was told all the points the author wanted to make, not shown.
  • The story was all about Mack. His questions had to do with his perceptions and his pain, and his healing came because he understood the nature of God. But healing doesn't come because we understand, but because we submit to God's sovereignty.
  • Jesus, in the story, comments that he loves people from every system that exists. "I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa." When Mack asks if that means all roads lead to Jesus, Jesus responds, "Not at all....what it means it that I will travel any road to find you." What does that mean? It sounds deep but I think it is confusing and gives permission to the do-it-yourself religions of today.
The Shack gives out a lot of sparkle and emotion but its theology is loose and unfocused. For a book that portends to give a fresh look at God's nature, I expected the theology to be the point.


Jonathan said...

I would love to hear your review for Watchman Nee's book "Spiritual Authority".

Kathy at Sumballo said...

Haven't read it yet. What did you think of it?

Cicilia said...

Interesting thoughts Mom.

I am in the middle the book and will keep your thoughts in mind as I finish it up.

I like your sharp mind and how it makes me think instead of absorb everything I read.