The Shack

by William P. Young, Windblown Media, Newbury Park, Calif.,
2007, 256 pages, $14.99 (paperback), ISBN-13: 978-0964729230.

This is a very unusual "book of the month." My oldest daughter, Cathy, gave me this book for the Father's Day right after my wife died on May 9, 2008. The book is a novel, and I was not sure why she gave it to me at the time. After reading it, I understand. I think this is only the third time we have reviewed a novel in the 40 years that this journal has been in print. Like the other two, this is a book that will have use and appeal to a certain type of reader.

The story line is that the hero of the book, named Mack, has a child abducted and killed. Four years later God intervenes in Mack's sadness by meeting with Mack in the shack where his daughter was murdered. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also involved, and Mack's struggles with life and with Christianity are explored.

The beauty of this book is that Mack's misunderstandings of life and of God are those of most people in the world today. Organized religion and its errors, man's tendency to blame and judge God for tragedy and problems, and the reason for pain and suffering are explored. Passages like Romans 8:28 are never quoted, but they are explored beautifully.

The problem with the book is that many religious readers may misunderstand the portrayal of God, of Jesus and, of the Holy Spirit, and assume it is blasphemous. God is several things including an African-American woman who cooks and does dishes; Jesus is a friendly carpenter; and the Holy Spirit is a constantly changing being of different colors. This may sound strange; however, I believe the Godhead is portrayed in a positive way and with great sensitivity.

This is a wonderful novel, but it needs to be read as a novel that stimulates your thinking, not as a serious theological work. If you can handle that kind of literary process you will find the book sensitive, informative, and spiritually stimulating. We recommend it to that kind of reader.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, JanFeb09.