The Shack

The Shack The Shack by William P. Young

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There has been a lot of buzz around this book. I probably wouldn’t have read it, except that I was intrigued after reading an excerpt on The first chapter was lyrical and full of wonderful imagery. So I decided to read it. Unfortunately, the author didn’t sustain that throughout the book. There were glimpses of it though. I hope this aspect of the author’s writing will grow with future efforts.

This is a book with a mission. Or a message. I’m not sure quite what that is. At times the author seems to beat you over the head with it. I almost expected devotional questions after each chapter. The mix of liberal ideas about the nature of God with conservative theology doesn’t quite work for me. Clearly the author wants to bring joy and hope to readers who are struggling with their own broken dreams and damaged hearts. And I do think this book has the ability to do that. While I don’t share the author’s theological stance, he creates room for each person to find their own relationship with God. Some have criticized that it anthropomorphizes God too much. Others, that the story is sappy and trite, and like a bad teenage fantasy novel. Yes, the story is silly at times. But it would make a great movie!

We all anthropomorphize God, creating Him in our own image, or at least in an image that is comfortable for us. Mr. Young’s depiction of the Trinity is an attempt to move people out of old religious stereotypes. It certainly isn’t meant to be taken literally. Even at the end of the book, there is a certain ambiguity about whether the encounter at the shack actually happened, or was it all the result of a blow to the head, or the aftermath of a car accident and coma? But most of the time I found myself thinking this is really silly. God doesn’t operate this way. The “miracle” of Mack’s healing was too superficial, and too “easy.”

Whatever your religious beliefs, the themes of wrestling with why God allows evil things to happen, the nature of free will, and the power of forgiveness are universal. Book clubs will find much to discuss here.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for your review. The book is based upon the personal growth and healing of the author through several tragedies and personal moral failure and was intended to convey to his six children what had taken place in his life over the past several years to make the change in his life that they had observed. I didn’t see anything superficial or easy about the healing of Mack. Further, I do think God operates in the way the metaphor of the book represents and that that work is much needed and desired by people. That may explain why the book has sold over 10 millions copies and been translated into 30 languages.

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