Here are 3 in a row - I am getting these into the newspaper early so I might as well post them early also. I'm pretty sure my negative review on "The Shack" will get me a couple of letters to the editor! But it just doesn't "feel right" if you get what I mean.
“The Shack” Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity
I wanted to like this book-it’s number two on the paperback fiction New York Times Best Sellers List. But when it was time to give my thumbs up or thumbs down I had to go with a no vote. I checked out a picture of the author William Paul Young at a speaking engagement and the audience was 99% suburban middle aged women. It looked a little like my book club actually! I then read about his life story and understood better why he wrote this Christian themed book. A quote from the website: “He said he had suffered sexual abuse in New Guinea as the child of Canadian missionaries. After an extramarital affair 15 years ago, he said, he spent a decade in therapy, trying to earn back his wife’s and family’s trust.” I hope the success of this book does it for him but if not he will be way ahead financially.
In 2005 Mr. Young, now 53, started writing the book to show how he had healed by forging a new relationship with God. He chose to make God an African-American woman, he said, because he wanted to alter religious preconceptions. “It was just a way of saying: ‘You know what? I don’t believe that God is Gandalf with an attitude or Zeus who wants to blast you with any imperfection that you exhibit,’ ” Mr. Young said. And I said as I was reading, “But I sure don’t like your version either.”
That is one of the first problems I had while reading “The Shack”. Yes, I know it’s fiction but the author is pretty heavy-handed in his preaching about a new Trinity. God is a large pie-baking woman; The Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is a mystical woman who gardens; and Jesus is of course a carpenter in jeans. Unfortunately he has Jesus portrayed as a perfect but powerless man reflecting God, not being God and saying: “Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy.” The author also writes about Jesus performing miracles. “He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.” It gets a little confusing since some scripture based truth is mixed in with the author’s modernized and humanized view of the Trinity.
But what about the story – Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and he is suffering the “Great Sadness. Evidence that she may have been murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, Mack receives a note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Unable to resist his curiosity, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he found there were three characters that would change Mack's world forever and begin his healing. This is the frame for the sermon and it gives an emotional motivation for the reader to keep going. Remind you of any other recent spiritual yearning books? There isn’t a new message since we already know that God loves us and we must learn to forgive and release anger and pain in order to be happy. Reading the Bible instead of The Shack would be a better use of our time.