I’ve been mulling a post on this book, which is really a phenomenon, for a while now. As I’ve mulled, things have become a little more complicated as there’s a little controversy about the book. I’m not going to do a “book review” here, more of a reflection & then answer a few questions. If you want a good review of the book, Mark Oestreicher does a great job of that, as you would expect from an author & insider in the publishing world. BTW – his blog is great, that’s where the review is – [http://www.ysmarko.com/]
I had not heard about this book when a friend, former intern & fellow pastor sent me a copy of the book. Sending me free books is one of the ways my Omaha buddy, John Alford tries to influence me(the other is staying at my house every time he’s sick of the bad weather of the Midwest, but that’s another story). He was emphatic that I read the book. I noticed the endorsement on the back of the book in which no less a luminary in the Christian world than Eugene Peterson states that this could be another Pilgrim’s Progress – woe! Keep in mind John has sent me a couple of other books that have been absolute MONEY. Having never heard of the book & with no real reason WHY John wanted me to read the book, I let it sit for a while.
One Saturday when it was too rainy to surf in the morning, I picked it up. It had been a while since I’d read a non-fiction book, so I flew right through the fist 80 or so pages. Then I slowed down – on purpose. There was way more than meets the eye in each chapter, much of it having the potential to blow apart some unhealthy ways that I feel & think about God. I was blown away by the way that it dealt with the anger toward God that I’m convince many of us carry around, albeit under the surface & carefully managed.
I saw in the book a breath of what I felt when I read the Chronicles of Narnia books way back in college. I detected a deep knowledge of the goodness of God. I also loved the way that the book took apart the characters religiosity & the sick system that his “relationship with God” had become.
When I was about half way thru the book, I received an email from a friend from Journey, Lisa Gates asking me if I had heard of the book & what I thought. She was reading it & was connecting very deeply with something in the book. There is so much that goes under the name “Christian” or “Evangelical” (2 words that I love) that doesn’t look, feel or smell anything like what Jesus seems to be talking about in the scripture. We both agreed that at times when reading The Shack, we wanted to yell – “YES, THAT’S IT!!!”
I finished reading the book during one of my desert times. I’m glad there was no one else around because I was a mess. My dad died some years ago and I loved the way that God met the main character at that point of hurt.
My wife, who is a veracious reader, read it about the same time. We had not talked about it together, but I noticed a box from Amazon one day, it contained about 10 copies – which she is giving away like candy.
The Shack has the rare ability to get below the surface & traffic primarily in the emotional component of our relationship with God.
You probably have heard that this our of nowhere book from an unknown author is absolutely blowing up! This of course doesn’t validate it, but in this case, I rejoice. I think The Shack is going to move people to God. I’d love for you to pick it up & reflectively read it. It will take you deep!
In the next post I will talk about some of the questions & criticisms that have been raised about this book.