The Shack by William P. Young
Mackenzie Phillips did not expect his family’s camping trip to end in tragedy, but it did. One minute the family was canoeing, the next, one of the daughters, Missy, is gone. She’s missing. There is no sign of her anywhere. There’s a coloring book, a red crayon, and a ladybug pin that does not belong to Missy. A search follows. The only thing ever found of Missy is her bloody dress in a shack near the campsite. That’s it. It’s all the work of the notorious Little Lady Killer. Each time he kills a girl, he leaves a lady bug pin, with an extra dot for the newest victim.
The tragedy shakes Mack’s family. The family was always prayerful and always close to God, whom Mack’s wife likes to call Papa, but now, Mack doesn’t know what to think. How could a good god allow such an awful thing to happen?
Four years later, a strange letter comes in the mail. Nobody knows where it came from. The letter invites Mack to the shack, but is signed “Papa.” Is this some cruel trick by Missy’s murderer? Is this letter from God? Mack prepares for both scenarios. If it’s the murderer, he has a gun. If it’s God, he has questions. What he finds in the shack is nothing he could have ever expected.
What I liked
I really liked this book. I don’t want to give away much of anything about it. It’s very profound. If you want to read something that makes you think and feel on a deep level, this book can certainly fit that bill.
This is a Jesus book, which you might not appreciate if you’re not a Jesus person. Usually, I don’t appreciate “Jesus” books because everyone is too high and mighty about it, making both Jesus and God too impersonal; this book is the opposite of that.
I loved this scenario of possibly meeting God. If you met God, what would you ask him/her? What would you say? How would you act? Do you think you would tremble in fear in the presence of God, or do you think that you and God would get along like family?
I can’t imagine how I would behave around God. I have definitely been a prayerful person in my life, but I think it’s different when you can’t see a person and they’re not actively responding to you, having actual verbal responses and a face to look act would be a game changer, I think, anyway.
This is one of those books that makes the idea of a higher power one of the most beautiful things you can imagine, at least for a short period while reading the book.
What I didn’t like
I don’t entirely agree with some of the theology in this book. I liked a lot of it. It was beautiful.
There is this bit presented in this book claiming that the independence of humanity is what has screwed everything up. This book also claims that Adam and Eve eating that fruit screwed it up for all of us. I don’t believe this. God gave us the ability to be independent and think for ourselves so that we could be more like him. God certainly thinks for himself and makes decisions for himself, so why wouldn’t his creation? We were made in God’s image, after all.
I also believe the whole eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was supposed to happen. It was the first exercise of choice for humanity. When humanity saw that it could make choices and that choices had consequences, it was able to understand the idea of being this autonomous creation of God.
The death of a child is an awfully sad way to go about all of this.
I really enjoyed it.
Can you imagine meeting God?
Do you find that you’re angry at God/the universe/the higher power of your choice if something bad happens to you that is beyond your control?