Well, I finally did it. I finally got a copy of The Shack, and sat down to read it. When it comes to fiction, I am not on the cutting edge of things. But some folks have asked me to read it and respond. In fact, they asked me back when the book first came out, years ago. So, promptly answering the call of friendship, here it is.
I confess I am not much of a reader of fiction. It's not that I don't like it, but that I have so much other stuff to read, I just don't have time. But I was up to my eyeballs in the theology book I was reading, and needed something "light." So I picked up The Shack.
My first concern was that I would lose interest and not finish. That didn't happen. I read through it in less than 48 hours.
So what did I think of it?
First, concerning the writing style, I was a little put off by what I considered an excess of descriptive retail. I don't care about the number of a forest road or some other details that don't move the story. But other than that, I found it easily readable.
Then there's the theology matter. There have been cries of dissent at the book by some theologians, and some who only think they are theologians. So as I read the book - the only novel I can remember marking as I went - I was paying attention to the theology presented. I know some have said, "It's a story, for crying out loud, not a theology book!" And it is indeed a story, but clearly it's a story that intends to teach the reader about God. That's theology, and it's not just theology, but some pretty deep theology.
So was I offended by it? It's certainly unorthodox in many ways, especially in its portrayal of God. But unusual or unorthodox - in the sense of custom, not theology - is not necessarily wrong.
I was initially perplexed more than offended, but after some thought, could see no reason that God could not appear in any form he chooses. If he can be a Middle Eastern Jewish man, why not an Asian woman or African-American woman or even someone like me? I can agree that there are reasons he did not come as those, but the question is whether scripture prohibits them. I don't think it does.
Emotionally, I had trouble putting the book down. The story was captivating, and in some places moved me deeply.
I believe that God can use films, books and the like to touch us and speak to us. These media - ways of telling a story - have the power to reach into us, getting beyond our intellectual walls and defensive barricades, giving the Holy Spirit a chance to work where we would not otherwise open the door.
One film that has done that for me is The Kid, a Walt Disney flick starring Bruce Willis.
The Shack will be in the same class. More than once I was in tears, and at one point I was praying and asking God, "Are you really that wonderful?"
So I'm glad I read it. I'm glad my friend asked me to do so and respond. I heartily recommend the book to anyone. Good stuff. (And I don't know or have any contact with the author or anyone else connected with the book. They don't know I exist. I say that for the government's sake. Jeez.)
So I did it, and that's what I thought about it. Better late than never, right, Lisa?