The Shack by WM. Paul Young
“Mackenzie Allen Philip’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 wlaks 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 you know to read this book!”
This book is the travelling book. It has made its way from person to person and somehow found its way to me. The above description was taken from the back of the book. I did not read this description prior to reading it, but went in only knowing snippets from previous readers.
The reader is introduced to the Philips family. Mack, the father, is our main character. His wife, Nan, is a nurse. Her knack for helping others has made her well known in the medical community. She also has a unique relationship with God in the sense that she refers to God as “Papa”. Mack does not feel he has the same relationship with God and it is too familiar to call him by such a name. Also the history of the relationship between him and his father opens old wounds. They have three children; Josh, Katie and Missy. Mack decides to take the kids on a last camping trip before the end of summer, while Nan is busy with work. It is not long before the Philip’s meet other couples and families with the same idea and soon a group has formed and bonded. While Missy is coloring at the table, Josh and Katie beg to go out in their new friends canoe one last time. Mack begins to pack up the camp when suddenly things go wrong in the canoe and is tipped over. After Katie surfaces and Josh does not, Mack’s parental instincts kick in to rescue him. A group gathers as they hear the commotion and a cheer rings out as Josh is saved. Adrenaline is pumping, tears and laughter are all around. The joy is short lived when Mack returns to the camp site to find Missy gone.
Without reading anything about this book and knowing that the daughter goes missing, I expected a murder mystery thriller; however, what I found was completely different. The whole situation with the children and the disappearance of Missy made my heart race and my stomach churn. As the story jumps ahead a few years and a mysterious note appears, things start to get weird.
People are familiar with the “Father, the son and the holy spirit” but The Shack takes it to a different level by having God or “Papa” appear as a large African American woman. The son (Jesus) is a middle eastern man, and the holy spirit is an Asian woman named Sarayu.” This helps to differentiate the three while giving different qualities and visuals for the reader, but also reinforcing that they are also one.
Mack goes on an emotional and physical journey to healing and to opening his eyes to the love and life of God.
I am not an overly religious person, I am more spiritual. There were many moments during the book that took me back to the iron fisted days of established church sermons with the resounding speeches that sound all too much like the teachers on Charlie Brown. The Shack makes some very good and interesting points. Religion, Economic and Politics are a volatile combination and are the root to all evils and divisions throughout the world. You have to be open minded when reading a book like this. Not being a religious person, I think I was able to handle the book better, as opposed to someone who I usually refer to as Hardcore Christian, or Hardcore religious buffs. These types want you to be open and accept the word of God, as per the Bible, and as per the Church. What happens is religion turns into a ruling force and loses its way. They try to become God, rather than be of God. The Shack speaks of loving and having an open healthy relationship with those around you and with God, the son and the holy spirit. It brings into question many people’s basic understandings of religion and also of those blind beliefs they find difficult to let go.
Before starting a war I will try and wrap this up. The Shack was not what I had expected it to be and to be honest I was pretty disappointed. There were many moments I wish things would speed up or that I could just skip past. There were also many times when Mack is trying to understand things, and the author strings together some complicated sentences to deflect the questions. Understandably the author, or anyone for that matter, does not have the answers. I understand the point to many of the events that occurred, but there were some scenes that were a little out there for me. I don’t mind some healthy debates, but naturally when it comes to Religion, everyone has their own views that they believe to be right, and all opposed are wrong in their eyes.
The Shack is not the type of book I would normally read and is not where my interest are. I probably won’t be recommending this to anyone, but by all means, if this seems like your cup of tea, drink up!