Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Visit to ‘The Shack’

For a Robert, I’m really a Johnny-come-lately: usually trailing the curve in technology advances like computers, camera and cell phones. Sometimes I also lag behind in reading books many people are talking about.

That was my situation in reading The Shack by William P. Young. For more than a year I have been hearing about this book, alternately described as “awesome,” “theologically spurious,” “compelling,” even “heretical.” Finally I decided to “Shack-up” (in a way of speaking) and see for myself.

I found it thought-provoking, imaginative, inspiring, even worth reading again. Some of Young’s theology can be debated, but I don’t think he’s making dogmatic statements on biblical interpretation. If anything, he asks readers to relax religious paradigms, suspend their disbelief (as with any work that involves fantasy), and allow themselves to take a fresh look at God and their preconceptions about Him (or, ahem, Her).

Initially, after discovering the story centers around a little girl abducted by a serial killer, I hesitated. Not exactly light summer reading. But I proceeded and found the author – who has experienced great tragedy of his own – seeking to address with honesty and compassion the paradox of a good God that oversees a world of evil, pain and suffering.

Young is audacious enough to put words into God’s mouth and takes certain liberties that those who recoil at even the suggestion of extra-biblical revelation will find troubling. But considering the Word of God was written for finite minds struggling in vain to understand the infinite and divine, I suspect Young’s exercise of literary license doesn’t unsettle the Lord all that much.

In Isaiah 55:8 God declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” In The Shack, Young strives to explore those words through narrative. I’m grateful that he does.

1 comment:

Ceska said...

No book I've ever read has so compelled me to read it repeatedly and to prayerfully share it with others. Whenever I read a book, watch a film, or even just take a walk in the woods, I'm learning to listen to what moves me deeply in my soul, and to ask God to open my eyes to what I'm encountering that has so profoundly touched me. Nearly six months and numerous readings of The Shack have me pondering many of life's deepest questions over again, and in an almost constant dialogue with my loving Abba-Father! My first reading left me in pools of tears... I highlighted nearly half the book on the second... the third time was aloud to my teen-agers... each time through sends me back to my knees to ask God to reveal to me more about the wounds in my own heart that He wants to heal. Read it! Share it! Be transformed by Father's love from the inside out!