Okay, I've finished The Shack a few days ago, but only found the desire to make a post about it. It's not that I don't like the book, in fact I love it very much. Except it is a little bit hard to find what to speak about with this book. The story goes like this:
Mackenzie Allen Philips's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.
Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
From what I understand, this book had become quite a best seller amongst the christian communities, but also had received several critics about it being heresy. What was portrayed in the book was something that people everywhere had always been trying to portray in the most realistic way they could think of, that is God Himself. The God character from that I remember up until know was the one portrayed by Morgan Freeman from Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty.
Yes, I enjoy christian movies, and movies that contain christian themes. Both Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty were not really about christianity: yes they include a 'God' and also some Bible references, but these movies focused more about the main characters rather than about human's relationship with God. Besides, I know these movies weren't really about God, so I enjoyed them as they are. As usual comedy movies. However, I cannot deny there is an attraction to the character of God even though we know it is only acting.
Now, the same cannot be said about The Shack, 'cause this book really deals with christianity beliefs. Though not all christians are going to agree with the book. I bought this book without a second thought because I saw Jesus's name while I was flipping the pages. So, maybe a lot of christians got attracted to The Shack because of the God factor: we like the notion of meeting God in person. I myself sometimes imagine what would happen if God gives me a visit.
Now Mackenzie, or Mack, met God in person. How wonderful is that? Just like what most people would do, Mr. Young portrayed God as very loving and understanding as well as patience. Here, Mack got all the opportunities to ask God everything we long to ask. Every doubt answered, every mystery revealed. In fact, Mr. Young tried his best to explain about God's works in the book. Mr. Young also explained about the trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit in conversation like form. I admit it took me long to finish the book since I have to put it down every hour just to digest everything I've just read. Just like Mack, it was quite hard to immediately grasp what the author explained.
I don't disagree with everything Mr. Young explains. But when it comes to it, I'm always careful to not take God to the level of Him being merely as 'personal God'. God is pretty much involved in our daily lives, but christians do need to be careful to not think of God to conform to our thinking and feelings all the time.The Shack did not struck me as presenting a personal God. But at times, I do have the feeling it did. That proves just how hard it is to portray God. Nonetheless, I love the portrayal of the very loving God in the book, always nurturing, always caring and nursing Mack.
The writing is fairly easy to understand, but the theological aspects can be a bit confusing. I don't know if I can outright say that Mr. Young presented wrong theological aspects as I see people can interpret things differently about God. I find that the part where Mr. Young wanted to portray about Mack's journey to accepting God again is good and engaging. Mack questions everything, tried to find faults with God and find nothing except boundless love. It is hard to just fit God into one book and later think of the miseries in your life and tries to make peace with it in a way YOU yourself see fit. So, I'm happy that in this book at least God explained that there were reasons for His works, and that He was not influenced by people with His decisions. That did not mean that He didn't care, only proved that His love was great. Mack's struggle and pain were realistic, and his feelings of anger towards God rightly portrayed.
And I love the explanation about relationship, about how human have turned something that is supposed to be equal and complimenting into something about power and submission. It is a good message actually, about how human is actually destroying all the good things God has given to us. Everything that God made is good, and yet human twist everything around to suit our selfish desire and needs, to explain our dissatisfaction and such. And when things go wrong, we would blame God, yet we were the ones asking for free will. And Mr. Young is right; the things that are hurting us is our own works. Everything that human make is imperfect, so bad consequences are bound to happen. Human are so far away from God and that is what hurting them. Not because God doesn't do anything or that He likes to struck everyone with diseases. Funny that if you think carefully about it, how God has always been some sort of 'scapegoat' for people in pain.
The Shack might contains theologies that are hard to understand, but still the conversations between Mack and God are one of a warming delight. I hope more people will give this book a chance, but I think it's better if the easily confused one stay away for a while.