“The Shack”

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”)


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  • Mel Dee

    I too found this book a few years ago …or rather it found me. I remember walking through an airport and the book was displayed on a rack in the front. I am typically (don’t think I ever have actually before) bought a book in an airport; however, the cover drew me in. What a beautiful treat. I loved how Mack got to see Missy playing through an experience he had and that she was having a wonderful time. Also, how Jesus collected tear drops…what a simple, yet magical and beautiful thing. The power of illusion and how God was a woman yet w/a masculine name ~ Papa ~ embracing both energies. Also, how Papas meals were so bountiful & delicious. Wonderful illustration of oneness, magic, love & knowing.

  • evergreen

    i hadn’t heard of this book and it somehow ended up in my hands. you know, until i read the back of the book (which wasn’t until after i finished it) i honestly thought this was someone’s real experience and i was thrilled!

  • Renegadegamefowl

    In our attempts to teach cidrhlen faith in things they cannot see .we fill their heads with nonsense about Fat men in red suits sneaking in thru chimenys, with flying reindeer ..magical bunnies, that give out easter eggs and jellybeans little fairies, that leave quarters under our pillow when we lose a tooth and so forth ..so that by the time they are ready and old enough to grasp religion- ..we have already LIED to them, about mythical beings countless times. Is it any wonder then, that so many wonder if Jesus isn’t just another one of our stupid lies,? If we raised kids HONESTLY ..and truthfully without all the DECEIT ..they might accept Jesus as, well .GOSPEL, if our track records weren’t so piss poor by then. Why should a child believe in Jesus, after we told him Santa was real,, the easter bunny was real, and the tooth fairy was real? .If I was that kid .I’d say you’re full of sh*t-

  • Jon the mechanic

    Lisa I wanted to tell you I have read the book the shack and loved it. It became
    my new bible because I think it painted a better picture of God then the bible
    did. It has been about six years ago that I read it but it realy opened my eyes
    more to the love of God and his love for all man kind. thank you.