Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Shack

A very interesting book to read is The Shack written by Wm. Paul Young. Young's BA Degree is in Religion. The book gives us some great perspective about how God relates to us in this world today.

The book begins with us meeting Mack, alone in his home with an ice storm covering the outside world. Mack goes to the mailbox, not knowing if the mailman will even run the mail in this weather, and what he finds is the beginning of his look at his relationship with God. When he goes to the mailbox, he finds a note from someone who calls himself Papa. No stamp. No return address. The note said that Papa missed him and wanted to meet him at "The Shack". "The Shack" is the place where he found items that belonged to his daughter Missy who was believed to be killed by a serial killer. Mack blamed himself for her death.

On the way back to the house, Mack slips on the ice and is knocked out for a few minutes. He then drags himself back into the house and waits for his wife to come home.

Mack doesn't tell his wife about the note. Instead, he makes arrangements for her and his other kids to take a trip so that he can sneak away to the shack, thinking that whoever wrote the note was the killer and he would finally get revenge. The end of the story is when Missy's body is finally found and put to rest, giving closure to the family. What is between deals with Mack and his relationship with God.

I'm not going to go into detail about what happens in the book. Instead, I will choose some areas that particularly interested me.

When we meet God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit we are surprised, and I found it a bit hard to adjust to, that God was a black woman, Jesus was a man from the Middle East and the Holy Spirit was an Asian woman. Mack found it hard to focus on God, felt very comfortable with Jesus, and felt that the Holy Spirit was elusive. What this section of the book impressed upon me was that God is not found in a particular area, but exists within all people regardless of race, sex or religion. Later, Papa (God, the black woman) talks about how religion conditions His people to believe in certain ways. Aren't we all conditioned to believe in the religion we were raised? Most of us stay with that religion for life, some change to a different religion. All have the freedom to come or go. How can those who have been conditioned in Christianity, or any branch of it, be different from those who are conditioned in Buddhism? The same applies to all religions. Each believes their religion is the one true religion. Which one is the true religion, or is believing in and loving God the one true religion? Young also states that all people who believe in God/Goddess, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan or any other religion are worshiping the same God, just in a different form. I've always had a problem when someone told me that a person from another religion would not be saved when I was taught that God loves everyone. Yes, people can make choices. But what about the child who is raised in conditions where he is not exposed to anything but his own religion? Does that mean he will not be saved?

More on The Shack later.

1 comment:

Aunt Dinah said...

I started reading The Shack before Christmas, got as far as Mack hanging out in the kitchen with God, and ran out of time and had to take the book back to library. I'm glad to have your summary of some of the things you got out of the book. It reminds me of something my mom often said: she was a Christian because she was born and raised in a Christian country and that being a Christian was what God had intended for her. She said if she had been born and raised somewhere else in the world she no doubt would have belonged to another religion and that would have been okay because that would have been what God intended. Interesting idea. Personally, I think everyone has to make his or her own decision about what "faith" is right for him or her, especially in a day and age when there is so much information available to us (at least in the "Western" world) to explore other faith traditions.