>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.