Author: William Paul Young
Info: Copyright 2007: Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media
Where acquired: Audio library check out.
Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): ✮✭✭ 1/2
Category: This one falls under two categories: "Everybody's Reading it" and "Nobody Admits to Reading it."
What it's about: Mackenzie Phillips, ultra religious, but having no viable relationship with God, encounters tragedy that brings him face-to-face with the Almighty.
I'm going to dispense with my normal review format and cut to the chase.
When I heard of this book years ago, all I heard was the negativity surrounding it. I had plenty to read, so I could safely avoid it. This year, I decided that other people's fears and prejudices weren't going to color my judgment about reading it. Understand, this was before I even knew about the movie based on the book that was coming out. Annie, my sister-in-blog and fellow reviewer, joined me in reading this tome. During out discussions, we were both mystified by all the venom surrounding it.
First, many who had disparaging comments about the book had never read it; they were simply repeating what they heard from brother or sister do-dad. I've begun to take the Dave Ramsey approach to books: Never take advice from the firms I've Heard and They Said. Like my experience with such over hyped books as Crazy Love and One Thousand Gifts, I took a chance of possibly disliking, or not understanding the book. Unlike the aforementioned works, I liked this book.
Second, it is not wise to get one's Gospel theology from a work of fiction. That wasn't the point of the book. Like the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series (which everybody practically pees in their pants over, but I have yet to understand or get all the way through), this work is an allegory--a story one may glean meaning from. Were some of the images and statements unscriptural? Yes. Were there things about the book I didn't like? Yes. So what? Most of the Christian themed books I've read fall into that category. I felt that the imagery was spectacular and the story was told beautifully. Once I got into it, I couldn't stop reading. BUT do I get instruction for how to live my Christian life from The Shack? Absolutely not. It is a story--not a Bible study.
Third, I believe the problem with this book is not what was written, or how, but how others presented it. Annie and I discussed how in some circles, if someone's child passes away, everyone wants to flock to LifeWay and buy this book for them to read. That's rather heartless and takes no effort in real relationship building. I can't fathom that this is what the author intended--at least I hope not.
What I gleaned from this novel is that our relationship with God isn't based on religion; it is based on a beautiful relationship. Not a new concept, but vibrantly played out in the words of the author No, I don't believe I'll ever have the privilege of such a vivid vision of the Almighty until I cast of this mortal coil and stand face to face with Jesus. Then, it will be no vision; it will be the real thing.