I finished reading The Shack last night.
I got home late and read the final few chapters pretty quickly to get it over and done with. Sadly it wasn’t a book that resonated with me at all. I know it has been valuable to some, but I found the cringe factor was rather high as I listened in on the conversations and relationships between Mack, Papa, Jesus and Saraya.
I have been trying to reflect on what it was particularly that left me cold and I think it has something to do with the embodiment of all 3 persons of the trinity and the ‘pally’ way they got they on. The intimacy that the author was trying to depict just felt a tad too touchy feely for me.
I think it demystified the triune God and pretty much removed his transcendence, replacing it with complete immanence. I think the transcendent otherness of God is a vital aspect of who he is and in The Shack God became too much like an ideal version of humanity. I can handle Jesus as human because he is, but the other 2 just felt all weird…
Maybe I just have a particular view that actually needs rattling, but I wasn’t on the same page at all as the author.
The story of Mack and his daughter’s killing was pretty gut wrenching, but I think that’s just because I am a dad of a similar aged little girl. But it really wasn’t about the story… It was
a work of theology and an attempt to portray God to us in a different way. For that it is commendable, but I just don’t think it worked. It was pretty ordinary prose and the theological explanations that were present throughout seemed laboured and forced, as if the author wanted to tell us stuff and this was his mechanism. Better just to write a piece of non-fiction I would say.
Was it heretical?…
I guess it does open itself to charges of modalism, but I am content to accept that any depictions of the trinity are going to be flawed, because the concept is beyond human understanding and expression. So I’m not beating up on the author for getting his trinintarian analogies wrong – heck we’ve been doing that all thru history!
I must admit I did do a double take when Mack spoke of how he ‘flies’ in his dreams and the description was as close to the concept of astral travel as I have come across. Perhaps it was just a ‘flying’ dream, or maybe this was a veiled reference to a practice we would question. Wayne Jacobsen who was involved with the writing of the book denies this has any basis in fact.
To be honest I don’t even have a lot of energy for this review… I would neither slam this book or praise it. I imagine it will simply get relegated to the guest room and take its place on the shelves along with all the other books I am unlikely to ever read again.