Saturday, July 18, 2009

More on The Shack

I finished reading The Shack by William Paul Young a couple of weeks ago, and after Mom read it too we had to return it to the library because there are currently many other folks on the waiting list. Unfortunately, this means I don't have the book in front of me right now, so I'll just have to go on memory.

I liked the story very much. One can look at it from both a literary and a theological perspective. I'll try not to give away too much of the story, but here's what I liked about it:

- God shows personal interest in an individual's suffering;
- The main character encounters God in the place that once caused him the most pain;
- The unique depiction of the Trinity (an example of Divine accommodation);
- The focus on forgiveness;
- The emphasis on living in a dynamic relationship with God;
- The reminder that those who have passed on and who are at peace with God are definitely in a better place, and are filled with joy.

There were some sections of dialogue between the main character and God which I'll admit I read over a little quickly because I found the exchanges to be a bit cumbersome. I remember thinking that I would probably have had the main character ask God different or additional questions to the ones that were asked - and I would probably have depicted God answering some of those questions in a different way or with a different emphasis. (But then, I wasn't the one who took the initiative to write such a creative story, and Mr. Young, as the author, is free to have his character ask God whichever questions he wants!)

I remember one paragraph raising a question-mark in my mind - it had to do with the hypostatic union and I remember thinking the paragraph should be re-worded. I've also read one article on the book in which a Catholic reader felt that God sounded too much like Luther in a discussion on the relationship between grace and good works. My impression was that the author of The Shack wanted to convey that being in relationship with God was the most important thing - that good works naturally (or supernaturally) follow from that, but that the primary thing was to be in communion with God.

I don't have the energy at present to write a treatise addressing all the theological points raised in the book - besides, that would require me to have a copy of the book in front of me, which I don't. I will say that in my ideal world, Mr. Young's manuscript would have somehow passed through the hands of one or two of my Catholic editor friends before the book finally went to print... :) But since that didn't happen, I'll just address the book as it currently is and say, "Thank you, William Paul Young, for writing a unique and moving story which helps people to see the extent of God's love for the individual, as well as the importance of forgiveness."

Read more about William Paul Young here and here.

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