This weekend I finished reading William P. Young's The Shack.
*SPOILER ALERT* If you want to read the book with totally "fresh" eyes, you might want to skip this post as certain plot and/or character details are revealed.
Here's what I thunk:
I know this is a very popular book, yet I was less than enamored with it. Perhaps it is partially because the book and I got off to a bad start. Here's the premise: Mack's youngest daughter was abducted and murdered during a family vacation. In the midst of Mack's Great Sadness, he receives a note from "Papa" (God) inviting him back to the scene of the crime. I'll admit I was a teensy bit resentful of the note. Because my brother was murdered, I am familiar with Great Sadness, yet notes in my mailbox from "Papa" were conspicuously absent...
There were some good points. I liked the fact that God was initially revealed as an African-American woman. I also thought the author handled the complex topic of forgiveness well. i.e. Forgiveness is not about forgetting or saying everything is ok; rather, it about releasing oneself "from something that will eat you alive". Forgiveness is "first for you, the forgiver".
My theology is quite progressive, and I found much of the theology in this book less than progressive. I don't want to go point by point (too lengthy for one thing), but let me just say that calling God "Papa" and worshiping "flat on their faces" was reminiscent of a fundamentalist-type church I once visited -- the same one that didn't allow women in any type of leadership role.
Another thing that bothered me was how the author portrayed the 'looks' of Jesus. Mack is surprised that Jesus isn't better looking. Jesus says, "It's my nose, isn't it? ... I am Jewish, you know. My grandfather on my mother's side had a big nose; in fact, most of the men on my mom's side had big noses."
Wow. Way to perpetuate a cultural stereotype.
Soooo.... at best, this book was a mixed bag for me.