Loving reading "The Shack" by William P. Young If you haven't yet read it, you have to... it's incredible - soul crunchingly sad, heart stoppingly beautiful, warm and soothing like a good Islay malt, gently hilarious, inspiring and challenging and it puts you in such a theological helter-skelter that all you can say is "Wheeeeeeeeee"! It's as readable and engaging as an Airport novel but at the same time as poetic and stirring as pretty much anything you might pick up from the "literature" section of the Library. Sure, it's not perfect - there are times you want Mack to hold on to his anger just a little longer and really push the questions, there are bit's which border on the cheesey and some theological moments which feel they need digging at... but I have to say, even though it's lacks much in the way of competition, this is the best "Christian" novel I have read in a long long time... maybe ever (I'll tell you if that's the case when I've finished it!)
The EAUK Book Review page describes it thus...
Mackenzie (Mack) Allen Philip’s, an ordinary American, though one with a painful past of his own, decides one weekend to take his kids on a camping trip in the mountains of Oregon. Nothing unusual – just a fun filled weekend of campfires, hiking, canoeing and enjoying the great outdoors. Until tragedy strikes in the most unexpected way. Mack’s two older kids are out canoeing when they lose control and the canoe flips over. The reader naturally expects that one or both of them drowns, but Mack succeeds in saving them. Yet while his attention is focused on saving them, a serial killer abducts his younger daughter Missy. As the search progresses, the dress she had been wearing is found torn and bloodied in a Shack, high up in the mountains, implying that she has been murdered.It might be worth noting that the book makes clear why Papa (Elouisa) God is depicted as an African Woman... the reason being that God is both male and female (supra-gender) and both are created in God's image, Mack primary image of God is as a white male, therefore to challenge his preconceptions God appears as a black woman... Young does not suggest that God IS a black woman anymore than God is a white man!
What follows for Mack is a time of several years described as The Great Sadness. Mack cannot forgive himself, and perhaps understandably, he blames God for allowing such a tragedy to happen to him. His relationship with God only worsens, becoming stoic and devoid of emotion. Until, one day Mack finds a note in his post box, signed “Papa” (God) inviting him to return to the Shack. Unsure if it is a cruel joke, a trick by the killer or whether it really is God trying to speak to him, curiosity gets the better of Mack and he decides to return to the scene of his daughter’s murder.
Here the story departs from reality as we know it (and indeed where the reader may feel comfortable) and enters a world where Mack meets God – Papa (God) portrayed in the form of a black woman, Jesus as an ordinary man in jeans and t-shirt, and Sarayu (The Holy Spirit) as an Asian woman. Mack spends the weekend with them in a world where time and reality no longer exists as we know it, and during that time finds healing, peace, deeper understanding and forgiveness about life. It’s not easy, for the questions he has to face are challenging and painful, but gradually Papa, Jesus and Sarayu work to bring about healing in Mack’s life and enable him to understand what a relationship with them is supposed to be and how that reflects in his relationship with others.