My review of The Shack with apologies to those who loved it…

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

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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.

5 thoughts on “My review of The Shack with apologies to those who loved it…

  1. Thanks for your review Hamo. You and I seem to be on the same page as it were (even down to the mention of the flying dream!) I was drawn into the story at first but something really changed when the shack was transformed. It was almost as if somebody else picked up the writing of the story. The whole style of writing seemed to change. Interestingly though, the book made me curious about the author’s personal story. I would like to read about that. All in all it was an easy read that made my smile here and there. Have a Happy day!

  2. I’m glad you have gone against the flow on this one Hamo!!!

    I’m hoping to be in Perth in a few weeks and I really would like to catch up – my daughter is living in Hawthorne – it’s her birthday the clan is heading her way – we want to embarass her I mean suprise her!!!

    BUT when my wife and daughters are doing their thing I’m going to be at a loose end – last time I was in Perth was when I met all you fellahs!!!

  3. Thanks Hamo. It’s one of those books I need to get to but aren’t looking forward to. My wife thought it was pretty ordinary as well, so you’re not alone.

  4. I actually quite liked the book and found it pretty powerful but I can’t disagree with your criticisms. I think it’s one of those books that will have an impact on certain people at certain times but whether it has that “timeless classic” quality I’m not sure. I’d just encourage people to read it for themselves and form their own opinions somewhere on the spectrum between heretical crap and inspired brilliance. All would have some justification.

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