Monday, 31 May 2010

the love Shack, baby?

It's the book some people love to love. 
It's also the book quite a few folk I know love to hate.
It's a Christian literary phenomenon!
It's a pile of ...?
Some not-very-deep musings on... The Shack

To be fair, The Shack was always going to have a hard time getting through the cynicism engendered by the over-hype.
I am an awkward customer when it comes to claims that 'this product changed my life' - crumbs, my becoming a Christian was tough enough, let alone being won over to The Shack.
I bought the book, but was I going to 'buy' the accompanying hype?
Did The Shack change my life?
No. It just irritated me.

The writing - oh, very, dear. So pedestrian in its pace that I visibly aged as I turned each page. It laboured some points so hard that I was left bludgeoned into a state of apathy. Did I care about the characters in the story-line? Not really. Did I find myself frequently humming the mantra 'oh, just get on with it, already'? Check. 

And yet, even thought most of the pores of my very being screamed at me to stop reading, I did keep reading. Even in the midst of the most profound irritation at poor grammar and schmaltzy story, I found myself stumbling across wee gems. I smiled at the description of walking on water. I occasionally grinned at the depiction of the Trinity - God the parent as a big Mama, cooking and nurturing and just generally looking out for everyone was, dare I use the 'c' word... kind of cute.

The Trinity... hmmm, I am left with some theological niggles- is The Shack in danger of a form of Modalism? 

Occasional sentences, in amidst some of the most abysmal writing I have had the displeasure to read, popped out at me with the profundity of a killer knock-out punch: surprising when it happens, but it does happen.

My sense of The Shack is that it's a bit curate's egg - good in parts. I also wonder if there's a cultural context that this Scottish-Aussie doesn't quite get? Maybe if you're from Northern America, the book just works better?  

So... someone who loved it: convince me I'm wrong. Tell me why this is the 'awesome, life-changing' book so many people claim it to be :)


JohnO said...

I entirely agree that it was very badly written, had a naff story-line and was, generally speaking, about as far from good literature as you could get. It triggered a few theological warning sensors with me as well - universalist for the wrong reasons (iirc) and the modalism amongst others.
What it did do though, and this, I think, is its value, is that it seriously challenged a lot of the cutesy, stereotypical, unthinking images many have of God, the Trinity, heaven, new creation and so on.
"Awesome, life-changing" it may not be to many thinking Christians, but to many brought up on a diet of a wrathful God who insists you follow the rules (think conservative US - the primary audience) maybe it is just that.

Shuna said...

I hated it! for all the reasons given above. That said I did use the imagery given of the Holy Spirit in my sermon on Sunday! lol

An hour or so of my life I won't get back, as the saying goes!

crabbit besom said...

Funnily enough my supervisor brought this book up at our meeting tonight. The opinions above by both of you were shared by both of us - neither found it a life-changing book, and found it profoundly irritating - especially in its depiction of the Trinity. Modalism was mentioned too. However, we did wonder if it would have a different effect on those who saw God as a vengeful and rule-book adhering tyrant. Not my best read of the year!

Kathryn said...

I read it while high on morphine from last year's broken arm...Under those circumstances it was just about tolerable, but when the puppy shredded it I shed not a tear...

Julie said...

well... I am loathe to admit it - but I enjoyed it!! I liked the Trinitarian images; I thought the story was ludicrous, predictable, pretentious and unecessarily schmaltzy. However, it does not pretend to be deeply theological; it freely admits it is a story- and to be honest I have read worse!!
I read it because it was given to me by a good friend who had absolutely loved it. I read it as a story with a loosely Christian theme; and I thnk it contained interesting approaches to the themes of anger, bitterness and forgiveness... but I didn't read the hype until afterwards. I didn't expect it to change my life- which is good because it didn't.
the hype - which I have now read - reminds me of the rapture with which the Alpha Course was first hailed; my only comment there is that it's pretentious too - but it works!!