Everyone knows that I like to read and occasionally I get book recommendations from friends and family. Typically these recommendations are for many different books from fiction to non-fiction. But in the past few weeks, I’ve had no less than five people mention or recommend The Shack to me, and they are usually astonished that I haven’t already read it.
Typically this would not be my kind of book for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that it’s fiction and I try to limit the fiction that I read because a small part of me feels like fiction reading is a time-waster — because I’m not really “learning” anything. While it’s true that you can learn from fiction books, and there are some really amazing fiction books out there they are few and far between.
The second reason is that it’s a christian novel and these type of novels almost always strike me as trite and unrealistic. They try to tie up all the loose ends too perfectly as God becomes this great problem solver for everyone.
The last reason stopping me from reading this book was that the premise begins in a very dark manner basically have to do with a child and a killer. Some things I just don’t want to think about so I intentionally avoid. I don’t really like horror movies or true crime dramas on TV for the same reason.
But after finally seeing that it had roughly 1500 amazon reviews (mostly positive) and having yet another person recommend it to me, I decided to finally bite the bullet and start reading it. If for no other reason to say that I’ve read it and what I didn’t like about it.
I really went in expecting not to like it, but my feelings changed as I got deeper into it. The reason this book has everyone talking is because it tries to answer the question that most people have thought about at one time or another. What would it be like to really talk to God and be able to ask him any question you wanted? And I don’t mean talk to him through prayer and then be uncertain as to whether or not it was answered. I mean for God to physically appear before you and to spend a weekend with him.
Or what if you could listen in as someone else spent a weekend with God so that you could hear all the answers to the really tough questions. That’s what this book is about and that’s what makes it so compelling. It also helps that the answers God “gives” are unexpected and challenging. They aren’t just the same old thing you hear in Sunday school.
I think all of this combines to make this one heckuva fiction book and helps describes all the buzz around it. It’s one fiction book that actually is worth reading. You will learn something from it and it will cause you to think about how you perceive God — whatever your religious beliefs might be.
So why haven’t you read it yet?
Mack, that’s because you’re only seeing the institution, a man-made system. That’s not what I came to build. What I see are people and their lives, a living breathing community of all those who love me, not buildings and programs. -God taken from The Shack (in response to a question about the church)