The Shack Attack

In Faintly Fiction on December 29, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I finished reading William Young’s The Shack a couple of days ago.  Before I get fully involved in the next book on my list, Hemingway’s  The Sun Also Rises, I want to pause and acknowledge my experience.  Young creates an experience of forgiveness and healing for his audience.  The author of The Message, Eugene Peterson, suggested that this book has ‘the potential to do for our generation what Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress did for his’.  Young’s work, while far from a direct allegory, does follow formulaic portrayals of faith.

The story centers around Mack, a father of four living in Oregon with his wife, Nan, a nurse.  In a tragic camping accident, Mack loses his daughter, Missy, to a serial killer known only as the ‘Little Lady Killer’.  In the wake of her abduction and presumed murder, Mack spends the next couple of years absent in his pain.  One day, he receives a note signed only by ‘Papa’, his wife’s intimate name for her Father God.  Eventually, Mack sneaks away from his wife and kids for a weekend at The Shack with ‘Papa’.

Mack attends the shack with suspicion of the note’s origin.  Was it the killer playing with his mind?  Perhaps a cruel joke by someone who knew the story?  Or perhaps there was some truth to God wanting to meet with him?  In either case, Mack accepts Papa’s invitation and goes to the shack, the presumed site of his daughter’s murder.  The story that ensues over the next couple of days challenges Mack’s concept of God’s person, His purposes in our lives, and His provision for Mack’s healing.

I enjoyed the interruptions to my normal ideas of God expressed in three persons.  For example, God (as the Father) reveals himself to Mack in an ‘unfamiliar’ way.  Although he does not appear in the same form throughout the book (the point being he is not confined to one form), for the majority of the book, he does not show up as ‘male’ or ‘caucasian’ for that matter.  The storytelling felt a bit forced, but I appreciated the newness of Young’s depictions of God.  Life never shows up as we may prefer.  The Shack provides a hopeful response to the tragedies faced in life.

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