I still see occasional references to William Young’s self-published book The Shack (cf www.theshackbook.com, Windblown Media). I read it some time ago, after discovering Bill Young was also a Warner Pacific alumnus. While cleaning out paperwork last week, I recovered my notes, written at the time I read the book and here are some of my thoughts about it.
I found this book a compelling novel. I’ve never been one to stop and critique an author’s writing style, but this book has some superbly written passages in it, some better than others, of course. I found some paragraphs as tightly -packed and powerfully-worded as anything I’ve ever read. I enjoyed examining his writing style, and frankly admired flashes of his writing genius.
Mack, the main character, endures a devastating tragedy, the kind of trauma that any of us can rather readily identify with. In his utter devastation, and who of us has not felt such at one time or other--there really is no other word for it--in this black hole of life, Mack unwittingly, even unknowingly, encounters God in an old shack deep in the forest.
I have read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and I easily understood why some have dared to compare William Young’s “shack” to Bunyan’s allegory. This is allegory at its best. It is not for detailed and systematic theological interpretation. It is more than a metaphor, like a parable of Jesus; it has more than a single, general lesson. For thoughtful readers, who do not mind stretching the imagination a little, you will find it engaging.
Young offers a road map by which one can trace a winding path leading to experiencing the reality of an ever-present God. For me, it was a meaningful and refreshing path to a renewed awareness of that “Hound of Heaven” described by the English poet, Thompson.
Mack follows a trail of dispelling prejudice, misconception and misunderstanding, with which many a reader will readily identify. The reader who approaches The Shack with theology set in concrete may find some of Mack’s challenges threatening. Although I tend to be more of a rational person, I found the book filled with feeling and emotion. It gripped me.
Should you read it, I believe you will find it inspiring--right up to the very last paragraph--as I did, especially if you can occasionally let your imagination fly a little off the beaten path.
For what its worth from Warner’s World