Sunday, April 25, 2010

'Shack'ed up

I read The Shack by Wm Paul Young recently. I'd heard some positive things about it and so actively looked for it at the library. I was particularly interested because it is billed as good Christian fiction and I've a Christian friend who'd like to become a published author.

I thought it would be a hard sell, but after the first chapter or so, I was quite enjoying the read. It takes on some tough material because the storyline follows a man after his daughter is snatched and killed. So child-abduction and murder are a good uplifting start, haha. The fella then goes on to spend a weekend with god. I was curious as to how on earth the author could reconcile the problem of pain/evil and a benevolent god, especially given his choice of subject.

Now, have to say, the story does suffer a bit in the attempt to combine apologetics and fiction. It is a bit leaden and lumpen in parts, the prose isn't always great. I found the repeated description of Mack's bereavement as 'the great sadness' a bit twee.

I quite liked that Young's avatars of his triune god were not the white male/father-figure, although there's the downside of a bit of racial stereotyping in the avatars he does choose. Heh. But I think I caught a glimpse of what the enthusiasts of this book love so much about it and how they could find it reassuring and enlightening. I did like that he seemed to be going for a more inclusive theology: that might even mean there are other paths, and it's all about the lurve.

Of course, that's where the book appears to come under fire from its theist detractors. And it doesn't entirely fit with Christianity as I understand it either. And theodicy and the notion that pain on earth is pretty much trivial - it's a big stumbling block and his resolution of (and attempt to make palatable) these issues didn't convince me.

But it wasn't written for me and I can imagine that it would be a book that a lot of Christians would get a lot out of. I'd recommend it to those of the religious bent.

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