May 12, 2009
I fully expected this book to be hokey, heretical, New Agey, or all of the above.
After a horrific personal tragedy, a man gets to meet the Trinity in a shack. Yes, the Trinity. The Father is a maternal African-American woman figure, the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman, and Jesus is a Jewish carpenter. This is not divine gender-bending, and that's made clear. The Father only appears as a woman because the main character couldn't handle him as "Father" at the moment. But "she" is still called "he," and "Papa." (It's not as confusing as it sounds.) Make no mistake, this is a profoundly Christian reflection, written by a Canadian Christian who was looking for answers himself. (His mysterious personal tragedy is only hinted at on the back cover.)"The Shack" is a kind of Job fable/parable--Job questioning God. And it totally works. I'm sure there are theological inaccuracies and impossibilities when one takes on the Trinity, but they escaped my attention. There ARE glaring omissions: Um, where's Jesus' Mum, pray tell? But one could conceivably INJECT these huge M.I.A.'s, and wind up with a Catholic "Shack."I believe that "The Shack" has entered the library of Christian books on "theodicy and the problem of evil and suffering." Some of my other favorites: C.S. Lewis' "The Problem of Pain," "The Humility and Suffering of God," JP2G's "The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering."
We have NEEDED a book like this for a long time. To realize that we CAN talk to God like this. That He DOES talk to us like this. To delve into Trinitarian theology--how DO the persons of the Trinity relate to Each Other, and to Us? What could be more important than this?