I am reading five books this summer while on my little “vacation.” The Shack by William P. Young was the first.
I heard of the book on the radio as being both praised by Christian leaders and described by some as pure blashemy. So my curiosity was perked.
Spoiler alert. The book describes the spiritual journey of a man (Mack) whose youngest daughter was abducted and murdered by a serial killer. Mack goes into a deep depression and “looses” his faith in God and life.
The shack was the last place his daughter was before she died. He receives a note from God to come back to the Shack and there he meets the Trinity in person. God is an African-American woman named “Elousia” but Mack calls her “Papa,” his wife’s favorite name for God. She is like Medea, only nice and holy. Jesus is a down-to-earth, middle-eastern man in his 30’s, an outdoorsy type, wearing plaid shirts and blue jeans. Jesus is cool and likes working out in the woodshed. The Holy Spirit is an Asian woman named “Sarayu” or wind. She floats around and makes Elousia and Jesus laugh. She is the life of the Trinity party. (These characterizations are funny to even describe, but are in the book.)
The book is primarily about Mack’s weekend at the Shack. He asks all his questions about his daughter’s death. He learns more about the relationship of the Trinity and how God can be three in one. He vents all his anger and frustration with God for not holding back evil and suffering in the world. Creation is explained. Sin, the fall, redemption, Jesus’ divinity and humanity, the work of the Spirit…all covered in three days. Not bad for a weekend getaway. I barely got all that in two semesters of Systematic Theology.
My impression is that the book is neither great, nor blashemous. So God is a black woman. God is neither male, nor female. He is not a race or ethnicity, but is Spirit. God as a woman didn’t make me yell “heretic.” God is above gender, yet glorys in it.
But the book wasn’t a overly spiritual roller coaster either, like some have said. Even on the book jacket, Eugene Peterson, author of the Message Bible, says the book is a modern day Piligrims Progress. Not a chance. The book is normal. Slightly interesting. Not too long, or short. Decent read, but nothing groundbreaking.
Other summer reads: The Kite Runner and The Road (fiction). Mere Christianity and UnChristian (non-fiction).