Christie's Reviews > The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
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Jun 02, 08

Read in June, 2008

First off this will be lengthy so don’t feel you have to read it
.
This is a hard book to review because you pretty much have to separate it into two parts. The novel, and the theological.

This man is not a writer. As far as the novel aspect of this book, I don't personally believe it is well written. Both the descriptions and dialogue don't ring true to me. But if delve into a little of the back story regarding this author you find that he never intended this book to be published. After experiencing several tragedies in his life he spent a lot of time trying to figure out who God is and with the encouragement of his wife wrote this novel as a gift to his children. Friends read it and encouraged him to have it published.

As far as the theological aspect goes I think he presents God in a way that challenges our notions of who exactly we think he is. It seems to be done in a deliberate way and to be honest it sometimes made me uncomfortable. This was written by someone who believes in the Trinity but was making attempts to show how they function separately. All of the characterization of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and their interactions with each other felt off to me. However the conversations they have with the main character provided some amazing insight to me as to the love God has for us and just exactly how arrogant we can be in our judgements of God's decisions whether those judgements be conscious or not.

Here are a couple condensed conversations that particularly spoke to me:

Jesus asks the main character what he is afraid of.
“Well, I’m afraid of looking like an idiot... I imagine that–“
“Exactly,” Jesus interrupted. “You imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes you so like me. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster. If I may prove my case, do you think that humans were designed to live in the present or the past or the future?”
The main character responses with the present.
Jesus says “So tell me, where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination?”
The main character replies “I suppose I would have to say that I spend very little time in the present. For me, I spend a big piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out the future.”
Jesus responds “Not unlike most people. When I dwell with you, I do so in the present - I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And for sure I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?
It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.
You do this because you don’t believe. You don’t know that I love you. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don’t know it.”

Another one where God is speaking:

“Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from cause people can’t see what never happened. All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. 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....
...one of the reasons it makes no sense to you is because you have such a small view of what it means to be human. You and this Creation are incredible, whether you understand it or not. You are wonderful beyond imagination. Just because you make horrendous and destructive choices does not mean you deserve less respect for what you inherently are - the pinnacle of my Creation and the center of my affection.”

All in all I’m very glad I read this book. No one knows the mind of God, but I appreciated this man’s insight into the love God has for us.
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Eric Bjerke Wow, Christie, I just wrote my review and it seems like we had very similar thoughts. I too was not impressed with much of it, but the good far outweighed the bad for me and I had to rate it a 5 because really was an amazing book.


Linda Shimek I agree with you 100%.


message 3: by Ray (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ray Young presents a refreshing aspect of God which could heal many who deem Him as an old, insensative, judgmental, mean tyrant with a big stick-divorced from our pain and in some cases, causing it. Despite some awkward sentences and obvious theological loopholes, the work is riveting. I love the message of forgiveness which I believe is a universal problem with most people-save and unsaved alike. It is FICTION- so that covers the many Biblical misinterpretations- and is vastly creative. Young really kicks down our sacred cows in this work. A work of equal value is "A Step Into Deliverance" by Toni Pugh. Its autobiographical content about a pastor's spiritual journey with God is a real page-turner!


Kate Merriman Thanks for the thoughtful review - I was a bit stuck about how to frame my own review, but you've saved me the trouble. I especially appreciate that you separate the theological from the literary.


Kelli Yes, you put it really well. It's not that any of it was BAD, per se, just didn't feel quite right. Yet it was still a good story with many lessons to be learned.


Shawna Exactly!! I felt the same way and wasn't sure how to say it....but some of it just felt, off. You said it so well. Overall it was good, and some parts meant something to me, but some had me kind of, well, rolling my eyes. Some of it off, some of it right on I guess!


Gracia I agree with you...especially on your last paragraph... I never really believed that the book could change my life, because that would be an insult to my Creator... but yes, im glad i have read the book, it helped with my everyday struggle of being close to Him again.


Bekah O'Connor I didnt read your whole review, just the beginning. But I just wanted to say, the foreward explains why he wrote it. The story is his friends story. He wrote it for his friend, Mack, because Mack couldn't write it for himself. I've one read the foreward and the first chapter, so I cannot comment beyond that.


message 9: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Henton I agree with your review in that I thought the author's version of the Holy Trinity was so creative. I thought it was very refreshing to show you can appreciate and love Christ but have some unorthodox ideas. I'd like to recommend a new book that has a wonderful Christian message. It's called Forgiving Ararat by Gita Nazareth. It's about a woman who dies and unlocks the mystery behind her own murder from the afterlife. It's a murder mystery and supernatural thriller with elements of historical and religious exploration. I'm a publicist and fan of the book and I'd love to read your comments here if you choose to read it.


Linda  Van Wert I guess I am a late bloomer when it comes to reading books. I just finished "The Shack" by William P. Young and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The author presents a refreshing look at God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus that many people may find healing and a way to become closer to our God and our Lord and Saviour.


message 11: by Rae (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rae So I read half of this, but what I got out of what you are talking about, I agree with.

TO start you can't review this in one shot. This book is very intense with its information, and you need to really study it. You can't read this book just once.


Lindsay Thomas I loved this book, it certainly can be a weird read in parts but I read it shortly after a bereavement & it helped me to put my emotions back to a normal way of living so I have to give it a five star!
If it helps to place your spirituality on a higher level then its worth reading *****


Aleshia Robinson I'd like to introduce you to Alcatraz, a deeply troubled, teenage, tattoo artist on a spiritual quest to find God. www.lovegodandtattoos.com


Rachel What an excellent review and very much right on. I was never a reader as I have ADHD so reading was hard for me to commit to.
A co-worker put this book in my hands Jan 10', just after she had received it as a gift and told me "God has put it on my heart to share this book with you." "I know you are not a person who reads, so take your time, as long as you need, but you must read it!".
I was confused by her offer as I figured the book would sit with all others on the book shelf.

Wrong. I read it in a week, each night after work. That book opened up a power in me to read, learn, research and grow.

A month later my best friend of 25 yrs, brother died. I bought a copy of the book and shipped it to her, not knowing her husband had just brought home a copy. The book was given to her mom and through it she found the power to heal.


message 15: by Bubbleobill (new) - added it

Bubbleobill I know something else thats lengthy;)


Pamella thanks for sharing your opinion Christie. I 've just read the book after being strongly encouraged and I had been having a hard time figuring out what I thought about... it is not as much as I was expecting as far as writing goes, but it moved me some way, so your review was really clarifying and helpful to sort out the mixed feelings about the book. agree with you 100%


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