I’m going to start here by warning you that I’m not going to be nice in this review. I may actually devolve into a rant, so if you choose to keep reading, I hope you’ll forgive me.
The only reason I read this book is that there was an adult Christian education class at my church last spring that focused on The Shack. I didn’t attend the class (I knew I’d likely say some things I would regret later), but when a friend had a copy of this book, I figured I’d see what all the hype was about.
I think I may have enjoyed this book at least somewhat were I not an Episcopalian. The Episcopal Church is known for its liberal theology and broad acceptance of all people. The foundation of the church is Scripture, tradition, and reason. Note the emphasis on reason. That’s why after a lifetime of thinking Christianity was only about the crazy evangelicals I had seen on TV, I am now proud to be an Episcopalian.
Not only does The Shack lack the reason that is a cornerstone of the Episcopal faith (and thus my own), I could feel my IQ dropping as I read (I persevered only so I would have all the information to confirm my feelings about this book). I actually somewhat enjoyed the first part of the book (before the encounter with eternity that took up most of the pages). It was real, and moderately well-written. Unfortunately, once the note from “Papa” (which is a really strange thing to call God, and something that completely turned me off) showed up in Mack’s mailbox, it was all downhill from there.
Now don’t get me wrong. I disagree with those who think that God stopped speaking to humanity after the death of Jesus. I do not think that the Bible contains everything God ever will say to the human race. But the idea of Mack at the scene of his daughters murder spending a weekend with God was just really contrived and almost disrespectful. It just rubbed me the wrong way. I think I may have been able to deal with it had it not been so ridiculous. It was almost like a joke: a big black woman (God), a Middle-Eastern man (Jesus), and an ethereal Asian woman (the Holy Spirit) walk into a bar. Really? Yes, Jesus was a Middle-Eastern man, so I’m fine with that. But the rest of it just struck me as pretty racist and insensitive.
And don’t even get me started on the awful (and wrong) theology asserted in The Shack. Not to mention the literal interpretation of the Bible and the shiny happy version of Heaven.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I consider myself to be a fairly religious person, but not at all in the way that The Shack thinks that people should be. I tend to behave in a more quiet manner. Which is how Jesus said it should be anyway.