Warming and emotive
An alternative perspective of man's relationship with God. And vice versa.
Those that do have faith may feel a little offended as to the way God is portrayed
The initial chapters relating to Missys death though no graphic, could be upsetting
The Shack was written by William P. Young, as a means of sharing a story with his children. It was intended to be a gift (to them) for Christmas
- and the book wasn't written and planned for future publication in any way.
However, due to one reason and another, published it was. Having said that, it can now be found on the shelves of bookstores around the globe and it appears to be causing debate and contemplation for scholars, theists/non-theists and scientists everywhere.
That was not the intention - nor fault - of William P. Young but that is what The Shack has brought about. There's no denying, whether by fault or design, that the book has triggered a lot of consternation. Oddly it's roused more criticism than it probably deserves from the theological division of society.
Never-the-less, having read the book, it's clear that the underlying message is one of hope, one of personal elucidation and enlightenment. If one could ever hope to reach such esteemed heights. The plot centres on Mack, a world weary, disillusioned and altogether fragile character.
On a short summer break, minus his wife but including his three younger children, Mack loses the youngest of them all Missy - to a terrible and unspeakable crime. She becomes the victim of child abduction and is consequently murdered. As you can imagine, this shatters the world of Mack and his entire family.
The story then moves forward, four years hence. The crux of the story is not the heinous act that brought about the end Missys' life rather it's about Macks' recovery from her loss and how he reached it. And this is where The Shack comes in.
The Shack is a place where Mack through the plotline ends up spending a weekend with God. Or Papa, as He (or She?) is referred to in the book. During the weekend, Mack meets Jesus and Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) and learns to understand and absorb what Faith really is and how and why it works.
He makes peace with himself, with his past and learns to look to the future and all because of The Shack.
And so. The review.
When I bought the book, I picked it up because it was one of very few English language books available at the time. I had neither previous knowledge of the book nor any preconceptions. It was simply a book.
Once I began to read it, I was stuck by its narrative and quickly realised that the centre plot wasn't what I was reading in the first few chapters rather that was to come as I read through the pages.
It was clear that the author had some theological knowledge, faith or interest in religion. Or maybe all three. What was interesting (to me) was how he wove his theological understanding into what turned out to be a very poignant if evocative story.
Having held no faith one way or another throughout my lifetime, I found much of the book very interesting. Mans' relationship with God and how God works in mysterious ways all became a little clearer. For a fence sitter.
The Shack laid a gentle but defining hand upon human emotion, free will, faith, responsibility, love, suffering and forgiveness. To mention but a few. At times I felt a certain encouragement if all that I'd read was to be believed. And of course I remained aware (and still do) that this was just a story. But would that it were true Â¦
However, bearing in mind that William P. Young appears to have never been trying to sell a new way of looking at or analysing God and religion, I can understand why there's been so much debate and heat regarding the book. It contains what feel like answers to many perplexing, unanswered questions relating not only to religion
but the possibility of a higher power.
William P. Young may never have intended the book to be offered up in such a way and I for one don't believe he was but it does leave you feeling warm, less perplexed about certain theological conundrums. I know that when I completed the book I was eager to pass it around to others. I too wanted to share the message of hope, love and forgiveness. Because that's what The Shack is really all about.
It's about healing and facing life anew. And I believe that many - undergoing difficult and dark times - could find some comfort in The Shack. I know that I did and I didn't actually need it.
So if you do come across The Shack, read it and enjoy it for what it is. A beautifully written narrative of one mans journey back to peace. And his new found love and appreciation of life.