With all the buzz about The Shack, I figured it was time I read the book. I'm glad I did. I can see why this book has generated over half a million sales mostly by word of mouth. It's the kind of book that makes you want to say to someone else, "Have you read it?"
If you've been vacationing on a desert island and haven't heard about this book, here's the short scoop. It's a novel about Mack, a man carrying a terrible grief. Mack meets God in His Trinity. God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus--in forms you wouldn't expect--tell Mack a few things about God's love, evil in the world, and Mack's grief.
The Shack isn't a novel you pick up for the story, so much. It's not really about entertainment, as most novels are. It's a book you read because of its insights about God and His love. These insights are fresh and make you think. The Shack is a wonderful book for a discussion group.
The Shack was originally self-published by Windblown Media, which was formed to publish this book. According to The Shack website, as of April 8 the book had climbed to #33 on the USA Today Top 50 Books, and had risen as high as #7 at Amazon in all books and #6 at Barnes and Noble for instore sales. Discussions are now underway with "major New York publishing houses" to help "release this book to its widest possible audience." And the pre-production phase of transforming The Shack into a feature-length film has begun.
As I read I found myself soon looking for a pen to underline--something I rarely do in a novel. There are so many wonderful quotes from the Trinity to Mack. Here are a few of many that struck me. (I must add they are more hard-hitting within context.)
When all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me.
Humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intention I have for them.
Do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?
Lies are one of the easiest places for survivors to run. It gives you a sense of safety, a place where you only have to depend on yourself. But it's a dark place, isn't it?
(On the question of why God allows evil in the world.) Evil ... is the chaos of this age that you brought to me .... If I take away the consequences of people's choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all .... You demand your independence, but then complain that I actually love you enough to give it to you.
Mack to God: I just can't imagine any final outcome that would justify all [the pain in this world]. God's answer for the Trinity: We're not justifying it. We are redeeming it.
I highly recommend this book. It focuses on God's love, not His judgment. At the same time, it doesn't present God as some avuncular being who simply loves everyone and doesn't care how they live. At one point Mack asks Jesus if "all roads" lead to Him. "Not at all," Jesus replies. "Most roads don't lead anywhere. [But] I will travel any road to find you."