Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Review of William Young's The Shack

I finished reading William Young’s The Shack on Sunday. Wow. Very good book, but not for the reasons I usually call a book good.

First of all, it is not an easy read but it is not a literary work of genius either. It is a story filled with insights about God. Some of these thoughts are absolutely wonderful and fresh, but are at times difficult to ingest. Maybe it’s the size of my brain or my theological background, but I just didn’t get it all. Kind of the way I still don’t totally understand C.S. Lewis. It is not a great literary work because of the lack of action. Most of the book is dialogue. But it is a good book because of the fresh insights.

Second, it is a good book because it takes that little box we all put God into and fills up the box with dynamite and explodes it. I love this. I find myself trying to “get” God and “define” God all the time. I think it is only natural. Like when I see Jesus in my mind, the picture somewhat resembles this guy who is in the Matthew DVDs we bought a while back. William Young paints a picture of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit that will blow away any portrait image you may have of the Trinity.

Third, it is thought provoking. I found myself asking questions about the way I see life and the mysteries of life after reading certain chapters. Any book that gets you to do that is good.

However, I do have two cautions about the book.

First, it deals with a tragedy concerning a child. Hard to read. Period.

Second, this is a book. A work of fiction with a lot of truth in it. But still a book. What I mean is that it is not the Bible, although Young and his editors paint a beautiful picture of The Great I Am. But it is not the definitive picture. God is even bigger and more mysterious and far reaching and weird and indefinable than what this book portrays.

So, in summary, good book, well worth reading. A book that God can use in your life to stretch your outlook and explode any box you may be keeping Him inside. But it is still a book, and therefore, not the ultimate last word on God. I don’t think Young was aiming at that anyway. I believe He wanted to use the book to propel readers on to a relationship with God that has no limits. But because we, as readers, often use images from books to create truths in our minds, a danger exists that we will read The Shack and use its images to define God. Thus, exchanging our little box of what God is for another box.

I hope you pick it up and I would love to hear what you thought. Happy Reading!


dianne in colorado said...

Thanks for doing this review! I have not read the book, but several of my friends have and have asked my opinions on various theological questions it has raised for them. Your review inspires me to actually read the book myself. Thanks!

I am going to forward your blog to a friend of mine with a lot of questions about this book - hopefully it will help her!

Jan Parrish said...

Great review. I agree with your assessment.

What I love about this book is the personal relationship with the trinity.

Julie said...

So many books to read, and not enough time. I need to make a list, because I keep hearing about books I would enjoy reading. I like books that make my mind grow, or ponder. I think Christians think we "know" all there is to know about God. I fully believe that we know nothing in the big picture of who God is. I like books that give a different view than what I've been raised on, but we do need to use the Bible as the final and only real authority. Some people have the gift to understand so much more than I can, and I appriciate gathering their knowledge.

ChicagoGirl said...

I read this book and I couldn't put it down. I loved the story it told and found my prayer life changing...it seemed to "personalize" the Trinity to me. Not in the BAD way....I still respect God for who He is, but it really made things come to life. I agree with your cautions though...I had caution tape all around me (as always). I highly recommend it.