Thursday, January 22, 2009
I am especially fond of you...
Love. Forgiveness. Redemption. Relationship.
These are all things that I was challenged in with this book. For those who have not read it, I will provide what was written on the Back Cover:
"Mackenzie Allen Phillip's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.
Against his better judgement he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone around you to read this book!"
This book came to me at such an amazing time in my life. Although it is a fictional story, it challenged me in such an amazing way in many areas in my life. From the beginning of this story I was in tears, just the thought of losing my child is devastating, however, they way God chose his daughter's death was absolutely incredible.
Throughout this book God is constantly challenging Mack's perception on who and what God should be. Mack also interacted with Sarayu (The Holy Spirit) and Jesus (Yeshua.) Each of the characters (weird to refer to them as "characters") in the book had a different purpose in their interaction with Mack as to break him even more of what the world has taught him about God.
The way that WM. Paul Young writes is so incredible that you feel like you are there experiencing everything the main character is. For that alone, I would recommend this book. His descriptions are so thorough and precise, no detail is left out.
There are many parts of this book that hit me at the core, one of which being the way that I relate to God. In the book God is referred to as Papa, because that's what Mack's wife calls God. I thought, what a neat way to be able to talk to God. To feel so close that you could say Papa or Daddy. To be so comfortable in your time together that you don't feel that you have to say the typical names that you have been taught to say in Sunday school.
The other is the forgiveness that not only is shown from the Trinity, but that which is learned by Mack. I think this was the biggest one for me. Why? Well for the past... well, awhile now, I have been struggling with un-forgiveness in my own life. I have experienced a lot of hurt in my child hood and have found it hard to forgive those that needed it. All within the week that I read this book I had four different challenges on forgiveness from four different venues in my life, all saying the same exact thing. So all that to say, God has been pressing on my heart to begin to let go of that anger and pain that I've held onto throughout these past years. Mack pretty much said what I felt when he was challenged to forgive the person that murdered his daughter; that he didn't deserve it, that he needed to be punished himself and that he should be the one to stick it to him. And of course Papa challenges him saying it's not his right to say whether the man deserves forgiveness or not, it's not his right to say he needs punishment and it is not his right to believe he is the only one that can "fix" this man. Whew! This book is awesome!
So overall, I thought this book was pretty amazing. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding it, so here goes my argument.
First of all, this book is FICTION!! The reason why the author wrote this book was for his family, he never intended for it to become some huge phenomenon. But it did.
Second, this is all this authors perspective. He chose to show God as an African America woman. I know right off the bat people will begin the argument that God is not a woman, women aren't even supposed to have that sort of authority over men. All I have to say is "FICTION!" No where did the author claim this to be truth and if God chose to reveal himself to us in some way, if he found us deserving enough to see him, who's to say what he really looks like. It the book, Mack claims to envision God as a sort of Gandalf looking character (side note: awesome LOTR reference.) How often have we envisioned that same thing. People claim that Jesus was a white man, which I think is ridiculous because he so clearly was not from America or was British. I can't stand seeing movies with Jesus portrayed as a white man with blue eyes and flowing blonde hair. It's so wrong, he was from the Middle East!
Third, the writer shows the Trinity as three different beings. I think for the story to have the affect that it did, you needed to show them as three different people, although they never claimed to be separate, they always claimed to be one. I don't want to argue this point too much because I don't think it's necessary, some have heard the audible voice of God, most of us need the urging of the Holy Spirit to make us move. Moving on...
The last argument that I will bring up is the one about the Ten Commandments. I have heard people say that the book tells us to ignore the commandments because they are confusing and God doesn't really care about them. Now, I'm not about to assume what the author meant when he wrote about the Ten Commandments, but what I got from is was that, God put this commandments in place because the people were worshipping idol gods and were going crazy doing what they wanted to do. I think what the author tried to get across was that, we will never be able to live up to these laws, we will never be able to attain them, there is only one who was able to do so and that was Christ, Yeshua. That does not mean that we can throw all caution to the wind and do what we want, it means we still strive to be like Christ and honor God in all we do. Just because we know we know that we will disappoint our spouses or family or friends doesn't mean we just don't have them. No, we work hard at them, we ask for forgiveness when we need to, we grow from the mistakes and we try to do better.
So, that was my assessment of the book, I hope that you do read it, even if you don't agree with it. just remember, it's a fictional story (that does not mean that God can't use it) and it is not meant to challenge your beliefs. Hopefully you can grow in your relationship with the Lord.
By the way, once you read the book, you will understand the title of my blog.
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts.