Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Book Group and The Shack

This week I gathered with a group of really intelligent women ranging in age from mid-thirties to mid-eighties to discuss our book of the month, “The Shack” by William Paul Young. Cheryl, who led the group, began by stating that she really didn’t like the book at all, even though it had been her suggestion. Most of us agreed. Then she shared some of her on-line research about it, and some of us liked it a little better.

The bottom line for me about a book is whether I think it’s important enough to pass it on to someone else. I often buy multiple copies of a book I really love to give away, but I never know whether people really read the books I give them unless we end up discussing it when they finish. There are a few books I’ve read in the last few years that I think can make a difference in people’s lives. (I'll work on a list and post it next time.)

Was “The Shack” on of those important books? I’m not sure. Most of us wondered how in the world it ended up on the Best Seller List. In most of the group’s opinion it is very clumsily written and poorly edited. It didn’t seem that many of our group had any real beef with the theological aspects of it, but then we were all Episcopalians, and we have kind of loosey goosey views about theology anyway.

The primary redeeming factor in the book for most of us was that it made us think and talk, a very important characteristic for a book group book. I decided that there were a few important revelations in the book. Young voiced some ideas that some of us might have thought about, but not been able to put into words.

"The Shack" is pretty heavy handed with his “Ah Ha!” moments, some of which sounded like they were written by fifth graders. I did think that Young's explanation of the uncontrollable emotions that people often experience in the process of personal tragedy were well done though.

When we face any kind of a loss that seems to be intolerable and unfair, we can be, and often are, really angry with God. That is something that people of faith may have more trouble with than others. It’s really not nice to be angry with God, but we ARE! Young depicts God an all- knowing, all- forgiving character. He (or actually She in this book) is not surprised at our anger and grief because of His omniscience, and He forgives us because He is everything that is good.

I hope that some of you read “The Shack”. I think it can be helpful in life. I hope someone writes a better version of that book that I can recommend to all.



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