Saturday, June 21, 2008

Interesting "Shack" discussion

It's funny how our first impressions of people or circumstances can throw us off. :) Yesterday on my way home from work, I was running late and I was hot and I wasn't feeling good. I caught the tail end of a radio program that I don't think I've ever heard. The host of the program was, in my opinion at that moment, talking a bunch of gobbledegook, boring, theological jargon. Since I wasn't feeling well and was hot and tired, I had no time or patience to even try to figure out what the man was trying to say! I quickly changed it to another station that has a different program that I sometimes listen to on my way home from work.

Commercials were running on that station, so I flipped through my presets and eventually landed back again on the Christian station that I had started on. Out of the speakers I heard the man say "The Shack," so I became more attentive. Again, because of my tiredness, my predisposition had been defaulted to a matter of finding out what this man was saying to bash The Shack. I had already listened to Chuck Colson earlier in the day, and I've heard that he's not so hot on The Shack, so I guess in my irritable state I was more predisposed towards prejudice, and I wasn't looking for anything different from this man who had sounded so straight and uptight just a minute earlier.

To my pleasant surprise, however, he didn't seem to be bashing the book at all but was rather talking about wanting to hear what others think of it. In fact, my first impression must have really thrown me off, because the man sounded so much more jovial and relaxed than he had during the few seconds I had previously listened to. Again, this was all at the very tail end of the show, so I have no clue how long he spent on this or what was all said. But he did give a website, which I looked at and found this blog/discussion about The Shack. As is to be expected, the usual complaints/objections about the book are brought up, as well as some really good comments in defense of the book. It appears you can also listen to the full program from yesterday (June 20), which appears to be focused on the topic of the trinity. I haven't listened to it, but perhaps I will if I have more time later.

By the way, for those of you who know me, you may know that up till now I haven't actually read the book. I've read and listened to a LOT of commentary on the book and I've read and listened to several interviews with Paul Young and Wayne Jacobsen regarding the book. I really like what I hear coming from these men. And now... I've actually got the book in hand and I'm actually reading it! I am simply not much for reading fiction of any kind, and that's why I've really enjoyed the theological discussions about the book (even though the book is not designed as a theological book!) and have taken my time at getting the book for myself, but now that I'm reading it I'm really enjoying it.


  1. lol you're like me. I will listen to someone and automatically assume what they're saying. I'm very cynical of Christians and cautious of everything they say and I'm getting better with it, but it's still a bad habit.

    Glad you're enjoying the book. I'm thinking of reading it again. I've forgotten a lot of it by now.

  2. Have you read this review Joel?

  3. Matthew,

    I'd forgotten about your comment here. I was gonna say that I almost didn't want to open up about the cynicism I had during my experience in first turning on that Christian talk show. :) Like you, I think I've grown considerably in that department, but yet I'm still dealing with it. Sometimes I think it may be beneficial, as it provides, at least for me, sort of my own personal sounding board. I "talk back" (whether out loud or in my thoughts) to the radio and in the long run I think I've worked out a lot of my own religious issues in that way. Anyway, this could go very deep so I'll end right there. :)


    I saw the link on your blog the other day and I bookmarked it. I plan on reading it today.

  4. I browsed the pages of The Shack and ended up reading about three and a half chapters, plus the ending. Voom! Powerful. Despite some awkward sentencing and obivous theological loopholes, the book is creatively absorbing. Clearly is does not line up one hundred percent with scripture (no book does), but this is why it is FICTION. Does it dishonors God? I think not. Is is leaven and heresy? That is debatable. It simply is what it is. Let the reader beware. An equally intriguing and controversial work is A Step Into Deliverance by T. Pugh. It is a riveting autobiography about a pastor's amazing journey down the road to the deliverance ministry. It's a real page-turner

  5. Hi Ray,

    Since the time of this post, I've actually spent some time reading the book myself, and I agree it's a powerful book. I can see why/how it's affecting so many people in such a great way.

    I personally ended up not finishing the book, mostly because of the combination that I already "get" the message, and I'm just not a fiction reader. It just didn't captivate me like perhaps the same message in a non-fiction book would.

    As for the "theological loopholes," I agree that there are some sketchy things in the book that I didn't care for. Not that I'm necessarily "right" and Paul Young is "wrong" in these few things, but a few things that are said in the book simply don't line up with my view of scripture. Sure, it's "fiction." However, one little concern that I have is that the tagline that goes along with the book is, "Who is God, Really?" To me, that implies that the reader is going to open up the book - and through the work of fiction is going to find out who God really is. Because of that, I personally don't support the argument that since it's fiction, any theological errors are harmless.

    All of that said... I myself am a person who fancies himself as someone who is trying to help people to see who God really is, and who they are in Him - and yet I know for sure that people can find theological loopholes in various things that I teach. :) I never intend to lead anyone down the wrong path, but I know that I'm prone to error just like anyone else.

    I appreciate all of the hard work that Paul and his friends have gone through in regards to this book. I've read and listened to many interviews, and although I don't always agree 100% with everything they say, I really think they are trying to help people to see that God is for them, not against them, and that He loves them and is deeply personal with them.

  6. Joel B,

    Thanks for your comments. You really should read the last few chapters. Makes the journey worthwhile. I kind of got the same VOOM after reading the last lines of The Grapes of Wrath. Some of what Young does in the book is deliberate. He seeks to demolish the myth that God is a mean old white man with a long beard and a big stick ready to take vengeance upon erring humans. If God is white-where does that leave Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Indians?
    Bravo. But there some things that he is simply mistaught upon which are too numerous to list. I don't believe Young is a heretic. The work could do harm depending how it is taken by the reader, just like any book, including the Bible. I believe that it is a piece of facinating fiction and a huge risk of taking a tragic and macabre theme and pasting on the backdrop of finding a deeper relationship with God. Brilliant.

  7. Anonymous,

    I haven't yet put away the book (onto my bookshelf), and I think I'll eventually finish the whole thing. I keep reading and hearing some of the positive ways in which people have been affected through the book, that are based upon what I believe is the truth of scriptures, and a part of me really is kind of missing reading the story, even though I'm not a huge fiction reader. I can handle the theological disagreements that I personally have, and I think there's a lot of great stuff to glean from the book.

  8. Sharon Henton12/14/2009 12:17 PM

    Hi, if you're looking for another book with a wonderful Christian message like The Shack, try Forgiving Ararat by Gita Nazareth. It's about a woman who dies and struggles to solve the mystery of her murder from the afterlife. This is an intellectual, historical and religious exploration wrapped up in a suspenseful murder mystery. I'm a publicist and fan of the book and I'd love to read your comments here should you choose to read Forgiving Ararat