I hardly ever read books that are hugely popular, especially when they are hugely popular among the Christian population. But The Shack caught my interest. A few months ago in California I saw my friend Elbert glued to "The Shack" and figured the book was probably a good read. When the controversies started on the blogosphere, I decided to buy it. Before I could order it, I found it on my bookshelf along with the other books sent to me for my blog review.I guess I am a little behind on that pile of books to be reviewed.
Anyway, I started reading it and got halfway. Its a good book. It reminded me of the frenzy around Frank Perretti's "This Present Darkness" 20 years ago. We were living in Portland, Oregon at the time. I was a Bible College student and Debbie was a nurse and were among the people absolutely hooked on Perretti's book. Since The Shack is based in Oregon, my old stomping ground for 5 years, it struck a chord and got my attention.
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The Shack reads a little like a Frank Perretti classic but its not as complex or gripping and neither does it produce paranoia in the weak minded. However, it goes deeper into the psyche than Perreti ever did. Its more a psychological journey than a conspiracy thriller,
Its also a bit like one of George MacDonalds fairy tales, especially where God is portrayed as a female (The Wise Woman, At The Back of the North Wind) but it lacks the mystery and subtlety of MacDonald. The Shack is far more obvious and forward.
Unfortunately, The Shack is also cheapened by well-used Christian cliches and drags horribly in the middle where the story gets stuck in a theological conversation about the Trinity - which i did not struggle with theologically, despite the accusations of modalism from the fundie bloggers. My problem was more with the narrative - why is the character, obviously broken and stricken with heartbreaking loss, so determined to chase down intellectual theories on the Trinity? It just doesn't play. Seems more like a good excuse for the writer to roadtest some interesting thoughts.
But if you want to read what everyone is reading, and if you are a pastor with half the ladies in your church reading this book (yes, its big with the ladies) then you should probably read it. I showed it to a friend and she downed the book in less than 24 hours. Some people really LOVE this book. I am not one of those people but I can see why it appeals.