Book Review: The Shack

shackwritten by William P Young, was recommended to me by a Chaplain. And by a minister’s wife. Since it has been a phenomenal publishing success, with over 10 million copies sold, I decided, on this occasion, to go with the flow.

Fortunately, both of the above warned me about the book’s initially harrowing storyline. This is the story of a father who, upon losing his daughter, returns to where she was last seen – and there meets God in the form of ‘Papa’, a black woman. With her are Jesus, and Sarayu, the Holy Spirit.

Young plays creatively with the idea of the Trinity. OK, the concept of God as a black woman is not a new one, but the protagonist’s realisation that what he tells Jesus, he also tells Sarayu and Papa (who knew anyway) is a thought-provoking one. Also thoughtful were explorations of Papa’s judgement.

Each of the chapters begins with a key quote, that is then illustrated in that chapter. My favourite was

“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”

― A.W. Tozer

Whilst the explorations of the quotes were comforting, I found the book a little odd. In the real world, would anyone get a note in the post written directly by God? Would people’s spouses believe them if they told them that they had spent a weekend quite literally in God’s house? Yet, the likelihood, if not the possibility of this is not questioned. The pain that surely comes with losing a child is also not realistically explored.

So – as a story – this book is weird. It starts with harrowing circumstances followed by an unlikely journey, and an equally unlikely ending. I guess the storyline might act as a bridge between theology and literature for the unchurched. That’s not me – but beyond the storyline, I enjoyed reflecting on my triune God.

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One Response to Book Review: The Shack

  1. Pingback: Review: Play: Jesus, Queen of Heaven | Discovering Faith (and Doubt and Hope) in Jesus

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