Thursday, July 01, 2010

A Very Overdue Book Review

Pin It Now!

Last summer I read The Shack.

I read it for the very same reason I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I just had to know for myself what all the hype was about--what it was that had Christians so tangled and at odds with each other. ( Ahem, I must unashamedly admit, the Harry Potter books have become one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE fiction series. Ever.)

Anyway, back to The Shack. I had planned on writing a thorough review last summer right after finishing the book. I took notes and everything. Summer got busy, and I never got around to it.

So, here it is a year later, and before I give the book back to my mom, I thought I'd share a few thoughts. This surely won't be the review I had planned--just some thoughts. There is probably a lot I have forgotten. . .

Okay, so to be honest, overall, I liked the book. I mean, I don't really like lady bugs anymore and I never want my daughter to go camping, but the book--it was good. That's not to say I agreed with every little detail, but I am definitely not on the extreme "this-book-is-from-the-pit" side or anything.

I think I "get" the book as a whole. I think I "get" what the author was trying to convey--that Jesus is about "relationships not religion", about "love not law." I truly was touched in parts and got teary-eyed every now and then.

For me, the book was a beautiful word picture of how Jesus really is alive and truly is Emmanuel, and that the Bible is so much more than a book of rules and regulations.

"Mackenzie!" she chided, her words flowing with affection. "The Bible doesn't teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus. While words may tell you what God is like and even what he may want from you, you cannot do any of it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didn't think you could live the righteousness of God on your own, did you?" (p. 197-198)

I found myself being able to relate to The Shack's main character, Mack, as he struggled to make sense of trial and tribulation, of deep, intense suffering, of his anger and frustration toward God. How could he have a relationship with someone who allowed such horrible things to happen? I am human, and I have thought these things before. Suffering, though, as I have seen in my own life can bring me closer to God and help me realize just how frail and fragile I am. (Hopefully none of us will ever live through what Mack lived through!) Suffering reminds me that I need Him.

I remember hearing that a lot of people had issues with how the Trinity was represented by the author, WM. Paul Young. Personally, I thought it was a rather unique perspective. It is fiction, and in fiction, I believe using imagery and symbolism are effective and acceptable ways to drive home a point. I wasn't offended or completely turned off by it. I think the author made it clear that God is a Spirit and neither male nor female. Do I really think God is going to show up at my doorstep as some Della Reese-like woman presenting me with a freshly baked apple pie? Um, no. Just like I know Jesus isn't really a lion named Aslan, and the Devil isn't an evil, white witch who tempts people with Turkish Delight.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and it comes from a die-hard fiction lover. I have always loved literature and the pursuit of digging for symbols and meanings and nuggets of truth etc. At the very end of The Shack--this is a SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you still haven't read the book and want to . . .

 . . . you realize it was all just a dream anyway. For me, this is definitely a huge "Hello, this is just symbolic!" It's an invitation to find the meanings behind the symbols. I naturally do this with any fiction book. And I really enjoy it. :)

I always find that going to the source is a great way to find out about someone. I surely haven't read everything on the author's blog, but what I have doesn't convince me that the guy is completely wacko or anything.

What were your thoughts?

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...