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The Shack

A book by William P. Young

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The Shack – Let the reader be aware

  • Jul 10, 2010

The Shack by William Young has been on the New York Times Bestsellers List for Paperback Trade Fiction for more than 100 weeks now (and was even #1 in amazon.com’s spot in fiction).  I was excited when I got my hands on a copy because it is a Christian book that topped book lists and is even compared to Paul Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.  I knew I just had to read it and find out for myself what the fuss was all about. After reading the book I now understand why it had created a big divide in believers.  There were some who gave it great reviews and then there were those who leveled serious charges against Young with modalism, unorthodox depiction of the Holy Trinity and even heresy.
The story of The Shack is about Mackenzie Allen Phillips, better known as Mack to his family and friends. The premise is set off with the kidnapping of his youngest daughter, Missy. There was evidence that she might have been brutally murdered in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon woods. Mack was devastated and in his great grief years later he receives a suspicious note in his mailbox inviting him to return to the shack where his daughter died. Reluctantly, he goes back and faces all the nightmares that have been plaguing him. It promptly answers where God is in times of extreme sadness and unbearable pain. It is the start of Mack's ultimate journey towards redemption and life.
My personal review on the book as a Christian. First, I had to bear in mind that the author has presented his book as fiction, to be exact, as theological fiction because of the understandable nature of his book. Second, Young actually never intended to publish his work but he was, later on, convinced by his family and friends to do so. It is his first time getting published and it is well written with a very flowing style as it narrates and moves the reader into the character's emotional and spiritual journey. it gives a fresh new perspective on one's spiritual paradigm. I believe that as a writer he will develop effectively if he decides to write more novels.
True to its title, The Shack encouragesyou to confront your deepest of hurts, talks about redemption and, most importantly, lets you examine your relationship with God. I will not argue that the book is more than inspirational, it stirs you spiritually; yet, I also agree that it is not theologically correct nor is it biblically sound. The author writes metaphorically and polarizes on his own concept of the Holy Trinity which in my view the author has put words in the Triune God’s mouth.  I may not be a theologian but I can argue enough that God's immanence is indeed too unfathomable. It should never be anyone's intention to presumptively tell us how God would think, what he would say or do in a given situation. It strongly provokes me to compare the main character to Job.  Job and the main character went through very difficult (that’s putting it mildly) situations; and yet, when Job questioned God about the reason for his suffering he wasn't even answered but was instead sternly reminded by God  about His sovereignty and absolute power.
I would recommend the book for everyone to read but with a condition that they keep their bible at hand to reference any theological discrepancies and to keep a very open yet guarded mind while enjoying this book. Draw out the spiritual inspiration yet with an alert and careful bearing of theological guidance. 

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July 12, 2010
Great review!
July 12, 2010
Wow, this sounds like an interesting read, especially since it's been compared to "Pilgrim's Progress." I'm adding this one to my Goodreads TBR list. Thanks for sharing such an insightful review! :)
July 13, 2010
Hi Adriana,

Pilgrim's Progress is one of the books that is in my heart so when I skimmed through The Shack I knew I wouldnt be able to put it down until I read it thoroughly. It had similarities, but not exactly. Reading The Shack is like seeing good art, like hearing great music; but half way through it started to lose me because I was beginning to understand where the author was coming from - a very sad, dark place - the loss of his daughter. I understood that

Pilgrim's Progress comes from a spiritual hope of losing the core of your spiritual insecurities. The Shack attacks only one aspect: anger. Mr. Young would consistently write in his book about this anger. It shows a man trying to quell the anguish in his soul. He tries everything to comfort himself out of his fear... and ultimately his sadness. Paul

Bunyan in contrast tackles all aspects of a soul's insecurities and guilt, the struggle of a soul from damnation as he loses all that hinders and encumbers him as he journeys to reach the Celestial city. Faith and hope is what keeps him going. There is light indeed in the darkest of places. I saw this in Pilgrim's Progress and that lifted me to see that same hope, that same light. In the end all I can say is that The Shack begets anger and leaves you skeptical. Pilgrim's Progress continually inspires me until now and I still pick it up. I've never went back to read another line from The Shack.

I am so happy that you like my review. I'm in the process of compiling the reviews I have in my head on the books I've read :)
July 14, 2010
Wow, what an intense comparison! I have a feeling I am going to feel the same way about "The Shack" as you did, especially since I prefer the hopefulness in "Pilgrim's Progress." Have you thought about writing a review comparing the two books? You have such insight, and you can use some of the information in this comment to begin that review. I could create a topic for you if you are interested in a comparison review.

And, indeed I did. Your writing is engaging and you are quite passionate. I look forward to reading more of your reviews once you've compiled the ones in your head. I have quite a few waiting to be written too! :)
July 12, 2010
Thanks for sharing this thoughtful review and it is especially helpful that you gave us your personal take on it in addition to the book summary.
More The Shack reviews
review by . July 01, 2010
I was given this book from a friend. They told me it was a true story, once I read it I researched that and found out I was correct in my doubts. It's not. I'm not sure where the mistaken view that it is came from. This book has some very out-there views on Christianity and God. It had a few things right, such as God being both 3 and 1, but it personalized each of the 3 parts of God. None were what traditional Christians would have thought. One was even a woman. It's oftenly said that …
review by . July 16, 2010
The Shack requires more than one reading.  You get a little more out of each reading.  It can be hard to digest, comparing the Trinity to real life people.  Whether or not the story is true is hard to say.  However it opens your eyes to the power of forgiveness and understanding that even the most horrible tragedies of our lives can bring about some good.           
review by . July 02, 2010
This is by far my favorite book of all times.  It's basically one mans opinion of what God is really like.  It explains how God truly loves us and how he uses trials to develop other areas in other peoples lives.  This book caused an emotional reaction for me.  The story was sad, dramatic, and happy all mixed into one story.  It truly affected my life and I believe I've changed dramatically because of it.
review by . July 05, 2010
This book was recommended to me by several people, and when I finally had the chance to read it I could understand why. A man struggling with the mysterious death of his little girl and trying to piece his life back together gets a strange message in his mailbox from God and meets Him in the place where his daughter was murdered,to discover not only the answers to his questions but a whole new perspective on this life here on Earth and the life to come.   …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Can you create a perfect god, or what you think is perfect? P. Young did it, and probably we will have a generation that prefers to read this book instead of Bible. It`s better with no devil, no hell.."?!?!"
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
William P. Young created a therapy from himself when he wrote this book, but also created an over optimist way of christianism. Audacious, he takes God, Jesus and Holy Spirit inside a fiction that is not connected with the bible. There is no devil, no one goes to hell. Do you know what is called when you create a god in your own way? Idolatry. Do you know what is called when you twist the words of God? Heresy. The Shack: brings confort The Bible: brings repentance
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Beautiful book. My sister sent it to me, and I have since passed it on to others. Even if you are not a very religious person, this gets you to thinking, and believing.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
A life altering book. Had to put it down at one point and just cry for all the misconceived ideas I had in the past. Highly recommended.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
great book
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Rediscover what you think you know about God.
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Lucinda S. Merino ()
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When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of "The Shack." This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" did for his. It's that good! --Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.

Finally! A guy-meets-God Novel that has literary integrity and spiritual daring. "The Shack" cuts through the cliches of both religion and bad writing to reveal something compelling and beautiful about life's integral dance with the Divine. This story reads like a prayer--like the best kind of prayer, filled with sweat and wonder and transparency and surprise. When I read it, I felt like I was fellowshipping with God. If you read one work of fiction this year, let this be it. --Mike Morrell, zoecarnate.com

"The Shack" is a one of a kind invitation to journey to the very heart of God. Through my tears and cheers, I have been indeed transformed by the tender mercy with which William Paul Young opened the veil that too often separated me from God and from myself. With every page, the complicated do's and don't that distort a relationship into a religion were washed away as I understood Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the first time in my life. --Patrick M. Roddy, ABC News Emmy Award winning producer
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ISBN-10: 0964729237
ISBN-13: 978-0964729230
Author: William P. Young
Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Windblown Media
Date Published: July 1, 2008
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