Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Shack

The Shack, by William P. Young is one of the best books I have read in years. It made my top 10 list on the first reading. On the second, it jumped up to number 7. If you have not read it, read it. If you have, read it again, and buy a copy for a friend. I hope everyone on the planet reads it.

I won't spoil it for you, but I will tell you this much; the story is about a sad and broken-hearted man who meets the real God. The bulk of the book is the conversation between them. Young's insights are seasoned and brilliant, and full of the real gospel. Stunning. The human race is already accepted and embraced, Jesus continues to be human forever, the Father’s heart never flinches, the Holy Spirit is a redeeming genius—and we are as real as we are precious to the blessed Trinity.

Here are a few quotes, used by the author’s permission.

“Jesus?” he whispered as his voice choked. “I feel so lost.”
A hand reached out and squeezed his, and didn’t let go. “I know, Mack. But it’s not true. I am with you and I’m not lost. I’m sorry it feels that way, but hear me clearly. You are not lost.” (p. 114).

“I don’t create institutions—never have, never will.”
“What about the institution of marriage?”
“Marriage is not an institution. It’s a relationship.” (p. 179).

“If only it were that simple, Mackenzie. Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from, ‘cuz people can’t see what never happened. All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.
Mack rubbed his hands through his hair and sighed. ‘It’s just so hard to understand.’
“Honey, let me tell you one of the reasons that it makes no sense to you. It’s because you have such a small view of what it means to be human. You and this Creation are incredible, whether you understand that or not. You are wonderful beyond imagination. Just because you make horrendous and destructive choices does not mean you deserve less respect for what your inherently are—the pinnacle of my Creation and the center of my affection.” (p. 190).

Thanks to Wendy and Wayne Marchant of Sue St. Marie, Canada for phoning me and insisting that I get The Shack and read it.

And yes, I will list my all-time favorite books in another blog.


Unknown said...

Not fair that you have so much the review...thank you.

Martin M. Davis, Ph.D. said...

Barth describes God as the one who loves in freedom. He has created us as beings who can love in freedom as well. Love must be both freely offered and freely received. There can be no coercion in love. God cannot force us to love God anymore than we can force another to love us. In creating us with freedom, the Triune God takes the risk that we may freely choose to reject God's love, yet without the freedom to reject, we lack the freedom to accept. We cannot truly say yes to God (and to one another) unless we can also freely so no. There is no bopndage of the will (contra Luther). We are not totally depraved (contra Augustine). We are free beings, a mixture of both dignity and depravity, who, in our darkness, frequently misuse our freedom-yet,that does not make it less than freedom. Freedom and love necessarily go together. In the '60's, we talked a lot about free love. Tell me, what other kind is there?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and review about “The Shack”. It really is a wonderful book that is so Trinitarian and paints such a colorful and vivid picture of Gods love. I read it this past fall and plan on buying a case of them to give away as gifts.

Steve Schantz said...

I love The Shack! It has inspired local devotionals like the one posted below which came to me after reading chapter 9, "A Long Time Ago in a Garden Far Away"

-Steve Schantz, NBCF Orlando, Fl
""A Mess of God’s Greens"

Mark 7:20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Into William P. Young’s truth serum fiction dances the winsome and translucent Sarayu, a personification of the Holy Spirit. As she gives Mack, the main character in Young’s novel, The Shack, a guided tour of her garden, he discovers it is actually a living metaphor of his soul. Earlier in the day Mack over did it on a meal of greens. While this garden is a place of beauty and design by its’ Creator, it, along with Mack’s churning stomach, is in a ‘mess’ at the moment. As they walk, talk, and pull weeds Mack begins to sense the unavoidable result of what he has previously ‘taken in’ working its’ way through his system. Sarayu offers him another kind of green - hand picked healing herbs: “You’d better chew on these greens for a minute. It will counteract the natural movement of the ones you overindulged in earlier, if you know what I mean.” …“The flavor of the herb was not distasteful: a hint of mint and some other spices he had probably smelled before but couldn’t identify. As they walked, the growling in his stomach slowly began to subside, and he relaxed what he hadn’t realized he had been clenching.” (p. 129)

Like you and I, Mack’s life reflects a personal value system lived out in the day to day. From birth we absorb information, stimuli, data, and experience like a sponge. We process these all- the true and the false, the good and the bad, the painful and the pleasant – and out of this process comes our own self-oriented and self-guided tour of life. But even the keenest among us discovers that trailing behind this self-guided tour is a wake of pain where cherished relationships were meant to be grown and nurtured. Author and theologian C. Baxter Kruger writes that our hearts have been ‘shredded’, and both we and the cosmos are in a world of hurt. Instead of a living legacy we have passed along a death trap. When we catch glimpses of the mess we’re in we seek to clean it up using Religion and other worn out methods and means with renewed vigor!

We aren’t real sure how we got here, but we don’t mind dabbling with religion in the attempt to find a cure. Religion inspires a forced mold and a crude clenching of the undisciplined facets of our nature into the fa├žade of calm and control. Though once repulsed by the thought, I find myself in tacit agreement with Karl Marx’ statement that religion often serves as an opiate of the people. But this is our own doing. It won’t be this way forever and God has never been about religion. We strive to hide the natural consequence of making our own way in life without the relational God who created us for His love.

“Having chosen the ravaged path of independence you don’t even comprehend that you are dragging the entire Creation along with you…So very sad, but it won’t be this way forever.” (The Shack, William P. Young, p. 132)

God’s desire is to work from our insides out to help, heal, and bring harmony to our soul’s personal chaos until the curse is gone. He wants us to see Him, believe Him, and enjoy Him as the source of life – today, tomorrow, and for eternity! The Triune God is the only one who can open our clenched fists so we may grasp anew His little finger like the newborn clasps that of his parent. The Human of Human-ity has come and dwelt among us and the creation groans for the fruits of our life in Him to be realized! The living water which began to flow 2000 years ago is still available and the healing herbs are still growing. So help yourself to seconds. A mess of God’s greens is really what we need!

Rev. 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. (NIV)

Anonymous said...

It was this book, "the Shack," and the book "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore," by Jake Colsen, that indirectly led me to your sight. I was ordering these and similar books for my daughter and for myself, when Amazon recommended some of your books. So I googled your name, and ended up here. I really like what I have been reading here. I hope others take your cue and read "the Shack" -- it could remove some Shack-les from those who see more clearly the love of God and the TRUE redemption that is in Christ, the redemption of LIFE and relationship with God in the God-kind of nature written into our humanity -- the ability to know Him, perceive Him, and have Him written into our humanity by death and resurrection of Jesus! Thank you Jesus for that! Thank you Daddy for so loving us to give us that kind of LIFE! said...

I have to say that "The Shack" by William P. Young was a very thought provoking read.

After reading the book, I was left pondering several things about it – which is a true testament to the book's worth. I had several questions on the validity of some of the descriptions of God but I had to humbly admit that there may be no answers this side of heaven for how God presents Himself to each individual.

I posted a more in-depth review of this book on my own blog