Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Shack

I must admit that I was surprised by our discussion this month. Our book was “The Shack” by William Young. I put it on the list because I kept hearing about it: from various friends, from church programs, from Amazon, etc. In fact, the Amazon description is as follows:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

So I dutifully searched and found some discussion questions, and eagerly waited for our Paige Turner discussion.

And I was surprised.

"The Shack" is a polarizing book. Some readers really loved it, and others truly did not. More than not liking the writing style or the pacing or the (insert literary element here), they were genuinely bothered by the content -- The journey travelled and conclusions reached by the main character.

So our discussion that night went to some places I never would have guessed. But you know, that’s the great thing about our book club. I’m genuinely glad that we were able to talk about the different things we liked and didn’t like. I’m glad that our little group provides an atmosphere of openness and trust so that people can talk about negative responses and reactions. Kudos to us. (I hope everyone else felt the same sort of atmosphere I did.)

And in coming back to the book. There’s a lot to love. One of the things we all enjoyed: a recurring phrase used by the character portraying God. “I am especially fond of ____.” God says this about group of Californian Euro-funk musicians who have yet to be born, of Missy (the child murdered in the beginning of the book, of Mack (the main character), and of several other people along the way. In fact, God tells Mack to pass this message on to his best friend. When Mack gives the message, it’s incredibly apparent that these words touch a very deep place in his friend’s heart. And why wouldn’t they? As a group, we all agreed that this particular element is both true and encouraging. No matter who you are, or how you view yourself: God is especially fond of you.

I won’t list the things that gave us pause. Those worms can stay canned. Suffice it to say that “The Shack” reads like a parable. Therefore, there’s a lot of pictures, statements, and conversations can raise a lot of questions. So, dear reader, if you do pick up this book and you find that in reading it you have questions…please feel free to contact one of us and start a conversation. (You can find my email address on my profile page.)

For the Paige Turners – our next book is “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith. Big surprise, they’re making this one into a movie! (Who’s surprised? Anyone? *wink*)

We’ll meet to discuss it on July 14th. (A date much anticipated by Harry Potter Fans….the sixth movie releases that day at midnight. Whoo hoo! You coming?)