Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Shack by William Paul Young (NOT recommended)

I just finished The Shack by William P Young. I did not like the book. I do not recommend this book to anyone.

The Shack is about a man, Mackensie Allen Phillips, whose lost his daughter, Missy, to a violent murder. He calls the loss of his daughter The Great Sadness. One day, he gets a mysterious note; the note asks him to meet at the shack, the place where Missy was killed. At the shack, he meets god and god communes with Mack. (I am not capitalizing god because the god in this book is not God from the Bible.)

The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 is about the Great Sadness; it accounts Missy's murder. Part 2 is about Mack's time with god.

The book is not well written. The characters are flat. And the story is told insipidly. The murder makes it engaging but it is a cheap way to engage Constant Reader's attention. (NOTE: another cheap way to get a reader's attention is conspiracy, e.g. The DaVinci Code.) The story is told without any depth or complexity.

The theology that is pontificated by 'papa, jesus and sarayu', the god-trinity from the shack, throughout part 2, is trite. The problems introduced in this book are very serious and important. Essentially, it is the problem of pain. It is the problem of genuine forgiveness. Unfortunately, the answers put forth from this book are cheap bumper sticker answers which fall into a number of logical fallacies including, but not limited to, equivocation and the straw man fallacy.

The Shack is to literature like Thomas Kinkade is to painting.

The Shack is to literature like bumperstickers are to the philosophy.

The Shack is to literature like McDonald's is to gourmet cooking. People's hunger is real; people genuinely struggle with the problem of pain. When people read this book, they are getting filled but they are getting filled with food that does not have any real nutritional value. In fact, this book may do a great deal of theological harm.

This book is extremely popular. A lot of people were affected by this book. The main reason why I read this book is to figure out why people like it so much. This is my best answer to my question. People are looking for answers. This book seems to give answers. Unfortunately, the answers are both shallow and wrong. It also paints a picture of God that is simply not true. Perhaps people are intimidated by serious treatments to the problem of pain. Perhaps serious treatments are not accessible to people so people turn to something, this book, that they can relate to.

Overall, this book made me a little angry and very sad, not because of the story but because of the misinformation that this book proliferates. The book is poorly written and its content is shallow. I do not recommend this book. I do not recommend this book. I do not recommend this book.