Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review - The Shack

You will find this novel in the Fiction category, which is an ironic indication of how backwards we all have organised "our" world. The Shack succeeds in presenting truth; biblical, relational and theological, wrapped in a fictional delivery that bypasses our "religion" filters and presents a tale that is stunning and deep. Without a spoiler, here is a truth excerpt conveyed during a dialogue, by someone not of this world:

"People are tenacious when it comes to the treasure of their imaginary Independence. They hoard and hold their sickness with a firm grip. They find their identity and worth in their brokenness and guard it with every ounce of strength they have. No wonder grace has such little attraction. In that sense [people] have tried to lock the door of [their] hearts from the inside."

I couldn't agree more.

The story succeeds in compressing a wide spectrum of potentially human manufactured Christian misunderstanding of Scripture, through a lens of no religious predisposition. Instead, Paul Young places the reader in a purely human experience using Mack's personal and family relationships, including tragedy and dynamics as the truth communicating vehicle. If I go beyond that, it would be a spoiler.

*Spoiler Alert*

My exposure to it began with Paul Youngs collaborators and his interview with Sr. Ann Shields on Ave Maria Radio. To see into what we may assume are heretic, anti-institutionalism motives in the author(s), before I got the book, I listened to the God Journey podcast and many interviews with Paul Young.

Fearing its "churchless" undertone and exegeting this book like scripture is pointless. It is an attempt at exposing the centrality of Jesus' new covenant, and exploring how our our feeble human fears, secrets, lies and obstacles can be overcome by relational theology.

There are many highly visible Protestants (Chuck Colson, John MacArthur, Driscoll, etc,) denouncing this book for the obvious motives, it appears to take their well tithing members out of keeping them in the black.

Just like taking a single Bible quote from Romans out of context may lead to Calvinism, my advice is listen and read about the Author and collaborators, their personal religious backstories and one to one, in a human and personal way, read this book in the context of its sources. There is Catholic Truth in it, while it is fictional. One example: Numerous references by Papa to working in and not violating our free-will reinforce the Catholic belief of a "both-and" salvation relationship with The Father, while Protestants reel at this shot at double predestination theory.

Highly recommended.