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3.8 out of 5 stars
Shack, The
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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
143 of 160 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2008
I am one of the people who dislikes religious organisations, rarely goes to church, and have been unsure where a loving God fits into the dreadful things that go on in the world. I picked up this book by mistake, and read it with the intention of writing a harsh review advising others to save their money. It turns out that I was wrong. This is a very readable book, which addresses questions such as "Why did God let this happen?" and "Does God really have an interest in what goes on in the world?" without being preachy or pious. I was delighted by the humour contained within the pages, which made the sadness in the story bearable. Buy a copy for yourself and a friend! I'm not going to tell you what happens - you'll have to read it yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Shack is a book that people appear to love or hate as evidenced by the disparity of reviews. Most are 5 stars and those who give it less appear to invariably give it 1 star. To stand out from the crowd, I've decided to give it 4 stars although I easily could have given it 5 stars.

While the book is written as fiction, it clearly is both a theological and psychological book intended to counsel and direct people toward a more personal relationship with God. Difficult concepts are illustrated in a way that make them easier for the reader to understand. This is the book's strength as well as its weakness. Calvinistic theologians appear to take offense at some of the concepts which is not surprising. Calvinism is more about approaching God intellectually and coming up with an answer for every question you can think of, and then some that you probably wouldn't.

It's evident to me that the author takes care in presenting the pictures and conversations with God and seeks to do so in a manner that is helpful. Clearly, it is impossible to present something, such as the Trinity, in a manner that doesn't fail at different levels. In that sense, I can understand the concerns of those who naysay the book, apparently afraid that refrigerator magnets of a black woman, Jesus and an asian women will appear in kitchens across the nation and possibly even replace Gideon Bibles in motels. The horror! Seriously though, there's good room here from some concerns and cautions to not take the message of this book beyond what I believe the author intended.

More than a theological treatise, the message I took away from this book, is that God is personal, accessible and big enough to stand up to our anger and judgement if we want to bring it to Him along with our pain and accusations. Most of us carry deep wounds in our lives, many inflicted by those we love or whom we trusted. Some from Churches and other Christians. Some, deep down, if we're honest we have to say it is God who perpetrated or allowed these wounds and we're afraid that punishment and pain will come if we dare to voice it. Young's book not only gives permission to bring these concerns but seems to indicate that God is not whom most of us believe Him to be. I think that's a positive thing even if the idea, even in fictional literary license of God being a black woman threatens my theological and cultural sensitivities.

More than anything this book and the reaction by some illustrates the divide between purely rational Christianity, ala Calvinism, and that which thrives on an element of the mystical and relational that I believe is necessary if we're going to see God as He has revealed Himself to us. It's more than a mind thing. God want us to interact with Him as a whole person, mind, emotions and will, or Spirit, Soul and Body if you will. That threatens many. Some retreat to the constructs of systematic theology to comfort themselves and remove the mystery. Some simply run to the emotional experience and exuberance. In between lies an element of Christian Mysticism where there is personal embracing and interaction and a sense of worship, wonder and awe that is heart and soul of what a relationship with God can be, if we're willing to dump the baggage we're carrying.

So 4 stars. Yes you need to consider the theological implications of some of what this book says. But it's worth the read and the effort. This book has the power to touch you deeply if you need it and will let it.

Bart Breen
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2008
The book tells the story of one man's intense tragedy, years of ensuing "great sadness" and his meeting with God one day which leads to some profound changes in his life spiritually and emotionally. It is a story profound compassion, forgiveness and healing that also manages to weave some pretty deep theology into the mix.

Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message paraphrase of the Bible as well as the author of several books on pastoral theology says "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!"

Like Pilgrim's Progress, The Shack is heavy on matephorical/allegorical imagery. This is a book I would call an exercise in stretching. Whether you perceive yourself as conservative or liberal, orthodox or unorthodox, modern or post-modern, evangelical or emergent this book will stretch you at some point in your theology. Sometimes stretching can lead to breaking but with The Shack I think the stretching is actually a good and potentially beneficial exercise.

At its most helpful The Shack offers a refreshing interpretation of the Trinity and what forgiveness and a healing journey with God might look like. At its most controversial (stretching) it offers some strong words about institutionalized religion/Christianity and a strong affirmation of the orthodox understanding of creation.

Scattered with quotes from a variety of people including A.W. Tozer, Dostoevsky, C.S. Lewis and Bruce Cockburn I believe The Shack will become an excellent resource in grief counseling and I highly recommend it - especially for book clubs and/or study groups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2009
This is not a perfect book. The dialog is sometimes amateurish. And I think the emotional healings that take place near the end of the book happen way too quickly and way too easily. However, I still give this book four stars. Why? Because throughout this book the nature of God is described in a way that -- for the most part -- I think more people should be introduced to. For instance, paraphrasing two lines from page 187: 'Just because God works incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean that God orchestrated the tragedies. Don't assume that God's using something means that God caused it or that God needed that to accomplish God's purposes.' That idea alone is a valuable one to consider, and I think it makes this book well worth reading.

Steven Lane Taylor, author of Row, Row, Row Your Boat: A Guide for Living Life in the Divine Flow
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2010
There are two things that stick with me after reading this book; one is the warmth of the picture of the Trinity from which it has gotten its fantastic following, and the second is its treatment of forgiveness--the nub around which this book revolves--and it does this well. I found the post-shack part of the book weak, and questionable in it's theology, especially that part which speaks of responsibility. And for those who loved the Shack and mourned that it is fiction, but hunger for a real life experience of God, I would like to recommend 'Graffiti On My Soul' by Johanna
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on December 17, 2009
I am 61 years old and, except for a short time as a young child in the fifties when I attended a local Baptist church, have never felt a connection to any religion or higher power. Over the decades I have remained open to the possibility of a God who created this universe and beyond. The more I have studied in my life (I have a College Diploma in Teaching, a B.A. in Psychology and a M.Ed. in Curriculum Studies) the more humble I have become with respect to my understanding of the complexities of my world.

As I read The Shack, I became impressed with how the author painted his interpretation of God, Heaven and, more importantly, how we as humans fit into this grand scheme. His vision was so complete that I began to believe (hope) that perhaps Young was writing a step or two above Fiction.

At my health club there is a man in his mid seventies who lost his only child, a son, to suicide. Although his child has been dead for many years, this man has remained depressed and, it appears, moves through life without any joy.

I bought him a copy of The Shack and suggested he give it a try, as I was impressed with the author's vision. Several days later he approached me at our club for the first time with a smile. We briefly discussed the ideas in the book. Perhaps his smile was a reflection of the fact that someone cared about his feelings enough to buy him a book and, or, he experienced a measure of peace in the content of the reading.

William Young has written a book that has given a shake to those who travel this life without much hope for a higher meaning or life beyond death.
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The Shack is a good read and raises a number of important age old questions about human nature, the meaning of life, and the existence of God. The best part of all is that the book does this in fresh and exciting ways. Within the pain of life's experiences, this novel puts forth a clarion call for us to seek the presence of the Living God. The redemption found in the Messiah Jesus can be experienced regardless of life's circumstances. And the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit is available to all who seek God. Although the narrative drags at times and there are far too many unnecessary details in the first few chapters, the story picks up steam as it goes along. Throughout the second half of the novel we are drawn into a conversation with the God of love and grace, and this is done in a way that has the potential to soften the hardest of human hearts.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 8, 2009
Four years ago, Mack's little daughter was brutally murdered in a crumbling old shack. Since then, he's been consumed by The Great Sadness, which has distanced him from his wife and other children. Now Mack receives a cryptic note inviting him to the scene of the crime. Little does he know he'll come to terms with his anger and grief - and the Holy Trinity.

This unusual book is part riveting drama and part familiar Christian philosophy. The parts about Mack's terrible childhood and the loss of his daughter are very well-written; edge-of-your-seat scary and grab-the-tissues sad. But they're only the bookends around the main part of the book which is a lengthy discourse on the nature of God and his relationship with Man, as explained by some folksy people who happen to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The problem I had is that the ethereal conversations between Mack and God were so drawn-out, tedious, and repetitive that I grew impatient for them to end and for the fictional story to resume. The same platitudes are repeated ad nauseum for 150 pages, told in an annoyingly homespun manner. It would have been better and more effective if this section had been massively reduced, because the endless droning could really be reduced to a simple, "God is Love."

The fiction part of the story about Mack's coming to terms with his past is excellent - taut and tear-jerkingly tragic; but the endless cutesy theology was tiresome for me. I do think this would make a good movie, though, and hope to see it one day. (3.5 stars)
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on September 29, 2009
The book is great. If you're looking for the best formatting and editing, it's probably not for you. But if you can get past some of the annoying poorly written dialogue (and I know you can!) you can see what Young is trying to get at: starting a conversation about a God that has a personality, that cares, that is here, and that loves.

Try not to go to this book to find your theology; you'll end up confused and lost. But if you go to this book with a grounded understanding that there are relational aspects to God that He is trying to communicate with us, you'll have fun reading it and hope to goodness that when you get to heaven, God has some funk music playing on a large stereo system and a good pie ready for eating.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2008
This is not a strong piece of fictional writing. It is often contrived and melodramatic with a fairy tale ending. But it is strong theological writing. The Shack presents a view liberated from the static Western perspective of a towering, hierarchial, patriachial, perfect deity. God is portrayed as dynamically relational in a delightful, creative and surprising way. The ancient Church taught that God is a dance of the Three Persons of the Trinity with continous mutual love following between them. And God invites us to join this dance. The Shack plays on this and offers a refreshing and healing perspective that calls our hearts to return to Him.
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