Before I begin telling you about this book, let me just say it has opened the doors to a new vision of God for me. Now, I know this book is very controversial--and there are definately details that I won't excuse or try to explain. For that very reason, I almost put the book aside, but decided to just browse through the whole thing. My cousin had given it to me and said he'd like to know what I thought about it... so, I thought I should at least look at the whole thing.
Then, I started hitting theology so deep that it required me to run around looking for a highlighter, and to start reading slowly and thoughtfully.
The Shack is a story about a man who looses his daughter to a great tragedy. He sinks into years of depression, until he receives a note to go meet with God in the very same shack where his daughter was found dead.
The Shack deals with some super big questions, the ones that a lot of us would rather just step around or reply to with easy, "God loves you" kind of answers. The author doesn't do either of those. He really digs into the question of, "Why does God allow evil to happen?" as will as concepts such as the Trinity, freedom vs free will, religiousity vs love to name a few.
We all come at things with our different backgrounds, social norms and personalities--so I know this book may not be for everyone. I happen to love metaphors and word pictures, so I could really connect with the author on that level.
A person reviewing the book said, "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his." I don't know about that, but when I thought of the book as an allogory, it made it better for me.
Something I've always struggled with is seeing God as the angry Judge and Jesus as the one who makes us right with him. This book has helped me correct that view. I also always felt very guilty for not feeling emotional about Jesus' work on the cross (perhaps a by-product of being raised in a Christian home--it was just a fact for me). This book began a process of opening "the eyes of my heart" to what was done through Jesus life, death, and resurection--and now I can't talk about it without feeling my heart swell in awe and disbelief.
Let me share some of my favorite quotes:
POWER & INDEPENDENCE
God, about the world's use of authority: "In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system... the 'will to power and independence' has become so ubiquitous that it is now considered normal."
Mack--"So you are telling my that whenever we humans protect ourselves with power..." Jesus: "...You are yielding to the matrix and not to us."
Holy Spirit: "Broken humans... are addicted to power or the illusion of security that power brings them."
HS--"Rights are where survivors go so they won't have to work on relationships." Mack: "But if I gave up" HS: "..then you would begin to know the adventure and wonder of living in me."
Jesus: "To force my will on you is exactly what love does not do... submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect... I want relationship, not slaves to my will... When I am your life, submission is the most natural expression of my character and nature"
God: "All evil flows from independence and independence is your choice."
Holy Spirit: "Those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control... It grants you the power to judge others and feel superior to them."
Jesus: "By choosing to declare what is good and evil you seek to determine your own destiny... Before [Eve's] choosing, she found her identity, her security and her understanding of good and evil only in me, as did [Adam]."
GOOD & EVIL
Mack: "I see now that I spend a great deal of my time and energy acquiring that which I have deemed to be good....and fearing that which I have determined to be evil." Holy Spirit: "It allows you to play God in your independence. That's why a part of you prefers not to see me. You don't need me at all to create your list of good and evil. But you do need me if you have any desire to stop this insane lust for independence...[to do this] you must give up your right to decide what is good and evil on your terms."
Wisdom: "Papa has never needed evil to accomplish his good purpose.... what happened to [your daughter] was the work of evil and no one in your world is immune from it."
God: "Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies."
Jesus: "Our earth is like a child who has grown up without parents, having no one to guide and direct her."
God-- nothing can justify this tragedy: "We are not justifying it. We are redeeming it."
THE WORK ON THE CROSS:
God: "Love always leaves a significant mark...We were there together.... Regardless of how [Jesus] felt, I never left him."
God (to the question: what did Jesus accomplish on the cross): "Through his death and resurrection, I am now completely reconciled to the world... Reconciliation is a two-way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship, but it is the nature of love to open the way."THE TRINITY
The Trinity: "I am a verb. I am that I am who I will be. I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving. I am a being verb.. My very essence is a verb. I am more attuned to verbs than nouns. Verbs such as confessing, repenting, living, loving, responding...and on and on. Humans, on the other hand, have a knack for taking a verb that is alive and full of grace and turning it into a dead noun or principle that reeks of rules: something growing and alive dies.... Let's use your words: responsibility and expectation. Before your words became nouns, they were first my words, nouns with movement and experience buried inside of them; the ability to respond and expectancy. My words are alive and dynamic--full of life and possibility; yours are dead and full of law and fear and judgment."
Holy Spirit: "Humans have great capacity for judging things as good or evil without really knowing. "
Wisdom: "You have even judged the value of a person's life by your concept of beauty."
Wisdom (after Mack said he couldn't choose one of his children for condemnation, could he go in their place?): "You sound just like Jesus. You have judged well." Mack: "I haven't judged anything." Wisdom: "You have judged them worthy of love."
Jesus: "Have you noticed that in your pain you always think the worst of me?"