For the Lenten Season, I have been leading a discussion group at church on the book, “The Shack” by William Young. The book came to my attention in the fall, when several friends and colleagues told me to read the book. I talked with our ministerial staff and Board of Education about the possibility of having this group meet and it was welcomed. In my preparation, I looked on line to see what others have been saying and I am amazed how extreme the comments have been: “it changed my life” to “this is heretical and the work of Satan”. Ok – Wow. This book must be good.
The people who are critical of “The Shack”, condemning it and calling it heretical, are the same people that speak highly of the Left Behind series and Chronicles of Narnia. Both of those series are good books, but oddly enough both series sit on the exact same fiction shelf as “The Shack”.
Maybe they don’t like the book because it is challenging. Well, you know what. It doesn’t hurt to get challenged every once in a while. Maybe we should have more of that, to get out of our comfort zone and find out what we are made of. Yeah – maybe we should challenged. It can only make us better and we could all use that.
I don’t know, but I do know that the book is fiction and it’s a journal written by a man, for his family about a guy name Mack who encountered a tragic event in his life, preceded by an extremely difficult childhood. He faces the Trinity in a way we have not seen before. It has been a great lead into intriguing and challenging discussions.
What I like about the book is that it challenges me. It challenges me to answer for myself the following questions:
- Who is God to me?
- What is the Trinity?
- What do I believe about evil?
- Where do I stand in my faith?
- Dare I say, it also asks the question, can I look at God through a different lens?
It has been a timely study for me, as I am following a trail through this Lenten wilderness that is apparently leading me to the “shack” in my life. Yes, the book is fiction and there are some thoughts and suggestions that do not agree with my own theology. So what? At the same time, it has opened a chance to learn and grow and to face what I have been too afraid to face for a long time. One minute I want to rip up the book and throw it in a fire. The next minute, I want to write a journal entry and challenge you and me to consider opening the door to our own shack and seeing what we encounter.
Hmm – I don’t have a working fireplace and I think I see a door in front of me. Do you?