Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Shack

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by William P. Young
Windblown Media, copyright 2007
Trade paperback, 256 pages
ISBN-13: 9780964729230

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.

My Thoughts:

In The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by William P. Young, a man, Mack, is summoned by note to go to the cabin where evidence of the murder of his young daughter was found. When Mack arrives at the cabin he meets the Trinity: God the Father, or "Papa", is depicted as a large African woman; the Holy Spirit is depicted as a small, sprightly Asian woman named Sarayu; God the Son is depicted as a middle-eastern carpenter.

It would be very easy to get worked up about any one of a number of things in the novel but in reality this is just a novel that presupposes to teach its readers some basic truths about Christianity. Taken in this light, it was an interesting book and shed light on one man's very personal journey that lead him to some healing theological  revelations.
I think it is best to look at The Shack as a parable - an allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. In this regard, it is very much like C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, only not as well written. Is it worth reading? Yes, if the topic interests you.


Little distractions, like the ice storm, were a welcome although brief respite from the haunting presence of his constant companion: The Great Sadness, as he referred to it. Shortly after the summer that Missy vanished, The Great Sadness had draped itself around Mack's shoulders like some invisible but almost tangibly heavy quilt. The weight of its presence dulled his eyes and stooped his shoulders. Even his efforts to shake it off were exhausting, as if his arms were sewn into its bleak folds of despair and he had somehow become part of it. pg. 24-25

Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself - to serve. pg. 106

"Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don't assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors." pg. 185

"And remember, I am bigger than your lies. I can work beyond them. But that doesn't make them right and doesn't stop the damage they do or the hurt they cause others." pg. 188

"I already told you that forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established." pg. 225

"Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive....
"Forgiveness does not excuse anything." pg. 226

"What he did was terrible. He caused incredible pain to many. It was wrong, and anger is the right response to something that is so wrong." pg. 227

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