The Shack(Windblown Media, CA. 2007), a book by Wm. Paul Young is a must read for anyone who has ever wrestled with the question of why an all-powerful God doesn’t prevent evil-doers from
harming the innocent. Though The Shack was published in 2007, I just became aware of it and was touched sufficiently that I was moved to write about it.Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God series described God entering into a series of friendly, give and take conversations with Neale, a common, non-religious man struggling with life questions. Young goes a step further, describing Mackenzie Philips’s weekend in the mountains as God’s guest.
Mackenzie (Mack) has suffered a situation the thought of which terrifies every parent. His daughter, Missy, goes missing and appears to have been abducted and murdered by a serial killer.
While Mack is immersed in what he calls The Great Sadness, he receives a simple note in the mail inviting him to meet at the shack. The note is signed Papa, the name Mack’s wife Nan gives to God. The shack is clearly the remote cabin where Missy was murdered, though only her bloody clothing had been recovered.
Thinking the note is either a hoax or a cruel trick by the murderer, Mack feels drawn to go. To his surprise, he is welcomed by the Holy Trinity, God appearing physically as a large, African-American woman, Jesus as a small, plain man, and Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, seen as a vaporous, shimmering energy.
That weekend Mack learns of God’s true and unconditional love for all beings and the reason for life – to experience relationships. Conditioned in youth to a wrathful, demanding, and vengeful God, Mack slowly adjusts and understands that God’s true power is love, at all times and for all beings.
This is an inspiring work of fiction, one that will have you crying and smiling, saddened and joyous, and will leave you with a different view of God and the role of religion.
Additional reading for those interested in a lengthier review of The Shack.