Sunday, November 9, 2008
THE SHACK by William P. Young
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure it is not just me. There have been many times in my life when, confused, clueless, lost, and discouraged, I so desperately wanted to be with God face to face. So He can help me sort out the morass in my mind and figure things out; give me crystal-clear, no-room-for-ambiguity answers to life’s perplexing question; hear something wise and definite; know something for sure; and just be comforted by Him; be assured of His love, His power, and His sovereignty. Sometimes, I just want to tell Him how angry and disappointed I am, how life is unfair, and that sometimes I just don’t feel His favor.
In this novel slash parable slash Christian fiction, the story’s main man, Mackenzie Allan Phillip, gets that once-in-a-lifetime chance to be with God for a weekend in a mountain shack associated with the most horrific incident of his life. That weekend, he gets the chance to throw the questions at; to hear the answers from; to discuss matters of love and sin; hurt and forgiveness; pain and healing; responsibility and relationship with the One who knows all the answers, the Source of truth and light.
Mack has his shares of pain and hurt, probably more than others’. He grew up abused by his father, spent most of his life away from family, he suffered the guilt of his own sins, and dealt with the loss of his daughter. He certainly had a lot of issues to thrash out with God.
God’s answers to Mack answered some of my questions too. Some answers were confirmation of things I already knew in my head, but probably did not understand in my heart. Some answers turned me around to see a different perspective of God’s love and wisdom. Things like marriage not being an institution; it is a relationship. In the same way, that we do not have to treat everything we do for God as an obligation, but as simply a natural part of sharing love and life with Him. “If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.”
Like other readers, I was uncomfortable with Young’s portrayal of the Trinity. But I’m sure he had his reasons for taking that approach. Besides, we have to remember that this is fiction.
Yes, it’s fiction. And just like some readers who ranted about the ex-biblical nature of the book, I squirmed at some passages that sounded so dangerously New Age. But, this book being fiction, is just the output of the author’s imagination. This is William Shack’s interpretation of the truth that he knows. And he uses illustrations to drive home the message. His illustration of the father-child relationship to show why Jesus had to die on the cross blew my mind, and had me in tears, gasping for breath, feeling pain, love, and gratitude all at the same time.
I want to end my review now. It’s very hard to give justice to this book without cheapening the message with my own words. I highly recommend it. But I also hope that this inspires the reader to go beyond this work of fiction and to probe deeper into His truths communicated to us through His Word.