(written in collaboration with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings)
“The Shack” becomes a journey of self-exploration as Mack, a less than stellar father, confronts his grief and guilt after immeasurable pain involving the murder of his young daughter. He flounders for some time after her unsolved death, going through the minimal motions of living, until one day he receives a letter (supposedly from God) which draws him to a shack in the woods near where his daughter may have met her end.
What happens in “The Shack” may challenge the reader’s beliefs on several levels. It has certainly been a controversial book, both embraced as a life-changing work and denounced as a slam against Christianity and the Bible in its non-traditional depiction of the Holy Trinity.
To non-believers interested in the basis for the phenomenon surrounding this bestselling novel: while some would say that it is theology based, one cannot assign “The Shack” to any particular church or doctrine. It has overlapping spiritual themes, borrowing from (and occasionally attacking) many philosophies. “Where tragedy confronts eternity…” the tagline on the front cover, seemed overly dramatic, but for the most part, the book did not sink to unrealistic phrasing and platitudes. The overall message is love for all, forgiveness for all, no matter what.
An earlier version of “The Shack” was written by Young as a Christmas present, printed at an office supply store and handed out to his family and friends. Jacobsen and Cummings heard about the book, helped rewrite it and arranged to have 10,000 copies printed. First self-published in 2007 and sold out of Young’s garage in 2008, “The Shack” now has over 20 million copies in print, making it one of the biggest bestsellers in history. Young, Jacobsen and Cummings have since parted ways, with Young retaining rights to the book and Cummings and Jacobsen in control over what will happen with the movie, just released.
Readers may love the book for its themes of acceptance and spirituality in the face of awful circumstances, while others may hate it because it doesn’t follow a particular religious doctrine or that it disparages some age-old, deeply held beliefs.
Now that “The Shack” is back on the bestseller list, it is sure to enliven conversation about God. Who is He/She? What does it mean to believe in God? How is that demonstrated? Do the events in the book unfold in a way that is true to what has been taught in your place of worship? I doubt that readers who believe in a Higher Power could remain neutral about “The Shack.”
Please visit www.wmpaulyoung.com for information about the author.