The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, by William P. Young
This book was very popular several years ago (published 2007), and with the movie coming out soon, I wanted to read it. I never like a movie as well as the book on which it is based, but I always want to give it a shot, so . . .
The Shack fits neatly into the genre of an allegory, although the story line is compelling. SPOILER ALERT: the plot is based on The Great Sadness, which overwhelms and threatens to undo the story’s protagonist, Mack Philips
Imagine trying to describe the color blue to someone blind from birth. Let’s say you are getting close to a mutual understanding, and then you think of the color of the sky at noon in the summertime. And next you remember the changing colors of blue and green and everything in between of the ocean waves as they crash on the rocks. And how that blue suddenly flashes gold at sunset. That is a very weak analogy of what this author tries to do in presenting God as three very different individuals who interact with Mack. And yet, we catch glimpses of the wonder and transcendence of a God Who chooses to live and love with us.
Mack struggles with his pain and how he perceives God as either incapable of preventing the event which caused The Great Sadness or uncaring. Neither option is acceptable to him, nor is it to any of us. Through his conversations with the three persons of God, a comfortable black woman named “Papa,” an average looking Middle-eastern man named “Jesus,” and a diaphanous being named “Sarayu,” Mack begins to understand that God’s love is so much more complex and simple than he had ever known.
The author wrote this book as a response to great pain and loss that he suffered personally, which brings depth and credibility to the struggles that Mack Philips experiences in its pages. If you or anyone you know is asking Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? this book might be the one you need to read.
This book makes me think about my relationship with God and want to grow it deeper. As Jesus told tells Mack (p. 175), “Remember . . . the monsters are still there, just waiting for the chance to come out.” “So what do I do now?” “What you’re already doing, Mack, learning to live loved.” That is the bottom line for all of us—learning to live loved, because we are.
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