Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bookmarks--The Shack

Considering the subject matter, some may find that The Shack contains very little drama. Well, that is if you are looking for the sort of excitement one finds in crime stories or adventure movies where the focus is on catching the bad guy. But this novel has plenty to keep the reader interested.

The story centers on Mackenzie Phillips (Mack), a father who loses his daughter to a serial killer. After a couple years of what is termed “The Great Sadness,” Mack is called to the place where the murder took place to meet with God. Here he may not get the answers he wants, but he does find many of the answers he needs.

I’m sure that plenty of readers will be put off by God the Father as a Black woman, Jesus looking more like a yogi than a guy sitting on the side of a mountain, and the Holy Spirit as an ethereal sprite. But Young manages to handle these images deftly without, it appears, violating the basic orthodoxy of Christianity. (Not that one must be Christian or even religious to appreciate the story.) And there will be readers who are challenged by the theology in this book. However, while certainly outside what many expect from books on religious subjects, The Shack does not really go against the important ideas of religion. In fact, I’d go so far to say that those who get hung up on such things are likely to miss the value of this novel.

As noted, the book is more about Mack’s reconciliation with God, his family, and himself—a reconciliation he doesn’t even fully realize he needs. It is about facing not only one of the most difficult trials a parent could ever endure, but also about dealing with the problems that keep most of us from real peace and joy, no matter what real life problems plague us.

I expected a book that would too easily dismiss the real ache and anger behind such events. I expected some sort of Touched by an Angel crap that would certainly turn me off from religion. But The Shack is not that book, Thank God. There are places where, in my opinion, the prose needs sharpening, and parts of the tale that are not completely clear for me. But these are minor problems.

On the front of my copy is a quote from Eugene Peterson that states The Shack “has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his.” I’m not so sure about that. But I do think it is a good novel well worth reading whether or not one shares Young’s vision.

1 comment:

Angela Morris said...

Didn't know you had read this Dad! Can I borrow it? It's on my list