The Shack…


Most of my reading is pretty weighty stuff; theology, bible, or church resource kinda stuff. Stuff that I underline profusely, re-read often, and take forever to get through. Well recently I was having a really crappy day, all the worries of life had seemed to converge and crash simultaneously into my lap and onto my brain. I could not focus on ANY of my normal reading and even the Bible wasn’t a path out of my worries & introspection. So I picked up a book that some friends had given Andrea and I, The Shack. I had been hearing about this book from pastors and friends, most of them saying, “It’s amazing, you have got to read it”. I had heard a few naysayers, people who thought the theology was bad, and the path it leads its readers down was dangerous. I don’t really worry about that, life is full of dangerous paths and that’s why we have Jesus right. To be a light in those dark places, helping us to discern what truly reflects his heart and what doesn’t. Yea, I wasn’t worried about that so I began to read. I wanted a book to read that I could get lost in. One that would steal my wandering, contemplative, negative mind and take it to a different place, anyplace. As soon I started reading chapter one I realized The Shack was that book.

I am typically a pretty slow reader but I burned through The Shack. As I read it I thoroughly enjoyed the picture it painted of God and the relationship that God not only had with Mac (the main character—besides God) but also the relationship God has with her/him-self.

There are a few primary aspect and topics that the books wove through it’s pages, I will briefly hit on a few of them and will just share a couple of my thoughts. Hopefully I will get some response from you, I would love to hear what you think.

// Power & authority / The Kingdom There was a dialog between God and the main character Mac discussing the nature of authority. What I remember reading (I read the book about a week ago — we’ll see how good I remember) was a conversation about how in the Kingdom, where things are like God intended things to look, authority looks much different than it does here on the earth. I don’t remember the details of the conversation in the book but I do remember thinking, YES! Often Jesus looks into the world and says, “That’s not how we are going to do things” (Mark 10:43). He is giving us new definitions, he is teaching us a new way, The Way.

I like the idea, and I have often thought it, that we can’t, as people who follow Jesus and have citizenship in His kingdom, define authority the same way the people who write the Oxford Dictionary define authority. Authority is to be lived out differently for Christians leaders, authority is to look and be defined differently as husbands and as wives, authority it so be defined and lived out differently as we interaction with people who society and corporate America would say are below or above us. Authority is different for those of us who follow Jesus.

And authority is different for God. There is conversation in the book on the authority of the Godhead; father, son, spirit. The book tries to articulate that there is no “head”, no food chain, and no power structure in the trinity. I think that idea is right on. And I think this because the way God views “authority” is dramatically different than the way we think and define authority. This same concept paints a new picture of what it means to be a husband or a wife as well. God is working toward and defining a whole new reality for us and he lives it out in the fullness of his being, in the trinity. I LIKE IT!

// God as her… and as him A controversial part of the book is the fact that God the father is depicted as a large African woman, who Mac affectionately calls papa. I love the tension that puts the reader in. Calling a women, who is God, papa. Love it. There is a point in the book that the author explains that God is not male or female but appears to Mac in the way that is best for him. And because Mac had a poor relationship with his father he appears as a women to him. Makes sense to me. I think it’s great because it begins to breakdown some of the preconceived notions of what God looks like and who God is. The book talks about this and I think it’s very true. And this fact often hinders our interaction with God, our prayer life because we see God one-way or the other. This conversation might stretch some but it’s one we should embrace because God is bigger than our stereotypes.

// God as love & forgiveness A primary critique of this book is that it’s dangerous because it paints God as a soft, loving, buddy buddy God. I can understand how one would see that but I think it’s a incorrect reading of the book. In the same way a parent can be a friend with a child, is infinitely loving to their child, a parent still disciplines and corrects and lets suffering happen when they believe it will result in the right and good lesson. A good parent (I would imagine) is the perfect mix of all these things but in all of them love is always attempting to burst forth from the heart of the parent. I think this is the picture this book paints of God.

Is all the theology right? Are all the ins and outs of God’s character correct? Are all the little lessons woven through the pages of this book right on? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this book is full of grace and full of encouragement to relate to God on a level that I believe he desires us to relate to him on.

We don’t often walk with God in the cool of the day or night but this is the place where God is drawing us. Back to a intimate relationship with him. I believe this book has encouraged me to move that direction, to desire to get back to this place with God. If nothing else that is worth my reading and much more.

Like I said in a previous post, I give The Shack three thumbs up. Yes it’s that good, I had to borrow an extra thumb. (and in the post {follow the link} i talked about some theology of The Shack, you might want to check it out]

Pick it up when you get a chance. It’s worth the read!


PS: If you have read The Shack i would love to hear some of your thoughts an insight. Post a comment and share!