The Shack deserves its word-of-mouth reputation as a compelling example of inspirational fiction.
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I am a crank in good company on the subject of bad liturgy, so let me add that The Shack offers a whole feast of implications to sift through.
Take, for example, repeated warnings about the folly of “choosing independence over relationship.” A Protestant can read those lines and think “Amen! Eyes on the prize, baby!” A Catholic can react the same way, and then wonder whether that advice might also be understood as an indictment of the denominational free-for-all that has fractured Christian unity for more than five hundred years. That Young almost certainly meant nothing of the sort matters little to thinking along the lines of “You had visible ‘relationship’ with each other through unity with the papacy for 1,500 years, and now look what you did!”
Even God’s “great fondness for uncertainty” and emphatic willingness (in this novel) to “take a verb over a noun anytime” may trace back to sixteenth-century Christians who rolled dice on the action of the Holy Spirit rather than on the person at the head of an increasingly corrupt church, thus turning every Christian into his or her own pope.
In a missed opportunity of epic proportions, Mack shares a meal of bread and wine with God just before leaving The Shack, but because Young is non-Catholic and adamant about the lack of ceremony and ritual at that meal, nothing is said about the Holy Eucharist as the most obvious and powerful of several ways that Jesus continues to be with His Church.
However parochial it sounds, that omission and the aforementioned criticisms keep The Shack from ascending to the heights of spiritual classics like Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. Yet it is also important to concede that highlighting the ironies wasted on Young and some of his critics pays diminishing returns over time: in the end it is more charitable and more accurate to say that both have performed a public service.
The novel cannot be called lectio divina, but it is inspiring. Despite its flaws, The Shack has thought-provoking things to say about forgiveness, freedom, evil, and love.
While William Young does not handle Christian faith with the deft touch of master storytellers like Michael O’Brien, Graham Greene, and Shusaku Endo, his first novel is better and more ambitious than many of the other books in its genre. Moreover, I am especially fond of the friends who recommended The Shack to me. Read it — and then go back to the gospel.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online