Several years ago, I read a wonderful book by William P. Young titled “The Shack.” The debut of this fictional book created quite a buzz and received mixed reviews for its unconventional theological depictions. A book that originally was written solely as a Christmas gift for his children soon found itself on the New York Times Bestseller List and creating quite the stir.
The story centers around Mack, a father who is mired in his great sadness, who asks the burning question: “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” Four years earlier, Mack’s young daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family vacation. Though her body was never found, the police did find evidence in an abandoned shack to prove that she had been brutally murdered by a notorious serial killer who preyed on young girls.
When Mack receives a note in his mailbox from “Papa” to spend the weekend at the shack, he reluctantly accepts this peculiar and mysterious invitation and sets out to spend a weekend with someone who he suspects to be God. During his weekend, Mack encounters in bodily form the Holy Trinity in a way he never expected or imagined. Papa (God) is a large, matronly African-American woman. Jesus is a young to middle-aged man of Middle-Eastern descent. The Holy Spirit is played by Sarayu (Sanskrit for air or wind), a small, delicate and eclectic woman of Asian descent. And he also meets for a time with Sophia, who is the personification of God’s wisdom.
The story lightly dances across the lines of conventional Christianity and New Spirituality as Mack’s life-changing weekend with the Trinity unfolds. It explores and subtly questions traditional ideas held within religious theology — such as heaven, free will, the cross, and forgiveness — with a gentle application of an expanded perspective and an invitation to the reader to move beyond preconceived notions.
I enjoyed this book for the eclectic spiritual journey, for tackling some of the big and mostly unanswered questions surrounding religion and life, and for its ability to step tenderly outside the box in such a colorful and loving way. It is unusual to find books in the fiction section of the bookstore that inspire me. But I believe, whether you read “The Shack” from a background in Christianity or a background in New Spirituality, with an open mind, this book has a gift to offer everyone.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
(If there is a book, movie, music CD, etc. that you would like to recommend to our worldwide audience, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Review”)