>"…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

>I just finished reading the controversial book, “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young. Yeah, I know. Deep truths aren’t really available for the common man on the Costco book table for $8.49. But I bought it anyways. Heck, once you start reading Anne Lamott you haven’t far to fall.

Here’s my brief synopsis, without giving away too much: The story is about a fictional character named “Mack”. Mack’s daughter, “Missy”, is abducted and murdered by a serial killer during a family camping trip. Four years later, Mack is led back to the very shack where his daughter was killed to meet up with three personages, “Papa” a black woman who claims to be God, Jesus, and Saraju, which means “wind” in Sanskrit. Through relationship and good food, these three personages lead Mack through his profound grief into healing and joy.

Is it heretical? Well, I’m no theologian, I’m just a sinner saved by grace. A believer in Jesus Christ who loves Him more than my heart can tell. A desperate woman who is clinging onto Him for dear life these days for reasons beyond my own understanding. I really don’t know why I’m having this rough patch that seems to go on and on. I really don’t know. Nothing of consequence is happening in my life right now. Everything is fine. Just fine. I do think that a big part of the problem is that I’m caught in a positive biofeedback loop, which is anything but positive, that was triggered by my mother’s cancer. The other issue is that I believe I’m quite perimenopausal and that my hormones are out of whack. But enough of my incessant whining. Here’s my book review.

I looked up modalism, the #1 charge against The Shack, on Wikipedia (the greatest source of human knowledge) and I don’t really believe that the book teaches modalism. I think that criticism is a hollow charge made by people who resent that deep truths might actually be available to the common man for $8.49 on the book table at Costco. The book is very clear that the three personages are really One and that the whole concept of the Trinity is difficult for humans to comprehend and that we shouldn’t be surprised that God, the God of the Universe, is difficult to comprehend.

Is it Irreverant? Yeah. Probably. I wouldn’t want to be lumped in the camp of those who feel that God is just a touchy-feely guy (or black woman named “Papa”) here to make us all feel better about ourselves. I don’t see God that way at all. But I need a God much bigger than the one I currently can see. I seem to always need a God much bigger than the one I can handle. It would take no great stretch for me to imagine a God who is sitting there in a long white robe shaking is sorry head at me and all my many shortcomings. No. The bigger stretch is to see a God who really loves me.

The reason that God appears to Mack as “Papa” instead of the usually white-bearded man on the throne is because Mack’s dad-ometer is irreparably damaged. I can relate to that.

And anyway, is it really heretical to have God portrayed as a black woman named “Papa”? Jesus portrayed God in his famous parables as a king and as a father. Sometimes he referred to God as his very own daddy. Boy, the Pharisees really hated it when Jesus called God his “daddy” didn’t they? I believe that The Shack is a parable, not an allegory or even a real event. It is modern-day parable reiterating what Jesus said over and over again, that there is no path too dark and no road too twisted that God can’t/won’t go down to rescue back one of His own.

So, since I believe I personally have a good grasp on the absolute holiness of God and the abject sinfulness of myself, I don’t think my own personal theology was shaken too terribly much by “Papa”. Probably because I need a papa of my very own right about now. I could use a mama too for that matter.

I can’t really say anything more without giving away major plot points, but I will say that I cried all the way through it. Even the parts where I wasn’t crying, I was crying. Tears just poured from my face the whole way through. Deep, painful wounds were pried open and pus spilled out everywhere. I really needed to read this book right now and I’m grateful for it.

I’ve been trying for far too long to do this thing myself. I really appreciated very much being reminded that God is especially fond of me.


9 thoughts on “>"…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

  1. >Thanks for the book review. I’ve had the Shack on my shelf since Christmas, and haven’t felt compelled to read it. I’m not fond of pain or pus, but aside from that, you intrigued me. Think I’ll go for it.

  2. >I think the notion that God is good, ALL good is the hardest, most difficult truth for most Christians to accept.Why in hell Christians want to see a vengeful God who is pissed off at us all the time has always baffled me.I know what the OT says and how it depicts God and why people draw these conclusions.But, I also think that God’s nature and his truth is much bigger than the figures of speech used to describe him.Besides, for every scripture that depicts God as vengeful, jealous and angry, there are equally as many or maybe more that depict him as good, kind, full of mercy and love. God is light and in him is no darkness at all. That verse alone tells me that to assume God is pissed off at me is a wrong assumption. Maybe we just don’t really understand as much as we think we do about God’s Word.I prefer to believe that he is good. All good. All the time.

  3. >Love your comments. This book came to me at just the right time as well. The love and grace that are offered us are sometimes hard to grasp – hard to comprehend and hard to incorporate into our lives. Thank you for walking this journey “out loud”. I’m sure I’m not the only silent listener out there who is gaining courage from your honesty.

  4. >my dh read this one a few months ago and he spent a large portion of his reading time with tears streaming down his face, too. Which – frankly – scared me off of even considering reading it.I know it’ll be “time” for me to read it one day.

  5. >Robin and Jamie Jo, I think there is a time for reading this book. It was the strangest thing to not really be crying (like not always feeling it in my chest like realy crying) but to have tears pouring out of my eyes the entire time. It was an incredible experience.Mags, you got me. Why do I always go to my fallback position of seeing God has hating my guts and wanting me to fail? Why???? I certainly have enough personal evidence to tell me that God loves me. Goodness knows that He’s gone to the ends of the earth and back to pull my sorry self off the edge of the abyss.Why oh why oh why do I prefer the lies to the Truth? Heaven help us.And Mama, thanks for your encouragement. I do not know why love and grace are so darned difficult. I do understand that pride get in the way of realizing our need for a Savior, but once we KNOW our Savior why do we doubt him? Why do I doubt the Truth I know?

  6. >I’ve yet to meet two Christians who agree on everything. I keep looking, but haven’t found them yet.It seems to me that people believe what they want to believe for whatever reasons that motivate them.So, if we are all choosing to believe what we want to believe and the choices are:God is mad. You are bad. orGod is good. You are righteous.Just for my own mental health, I’ll take option #2

  7. >You pretty nearly described my experience with the book to a “T.” I started re-reading and journaling through it, but I kept lending it out. I got everyone copies, so I need to go back to mine and do that. Thanks for pulling me back in.JamieJo, you absolutely must read this book. It might just impact you as much/more than that other book we have in common. 🙂

  8. >First (if it even makes a difference), let me say this is on my end table to read, but I haven’t gotten to it yet… mostly because 15ds has been reading it. Chloe, I don’t think we really want to believe lies over Truth, or that God hates us and wants us to fail. It is for good reason that Satan is called The Accuser, and in our fallen human nature it’s a lot easier to believe what he whispers to us in our weakest moments than to believe the astoundingly incredible things that God reveals to us about His nature. Philip Yancey said it best: “Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.” Having given us His Son, why on earth would He want us to fail? God truly loves us — adores us — without reservation and without limit! Ponder that awhile. It’ll mess with your mind…

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