In the last month, I’ve heard several different people talking about The Shack, a book that supposedly has new ideas about god and what it means to have a relationship with it. Last night, a friend loaned me his copy, and I sat down and read it. At right around 250 pages, it’s a quick read, although the writing itself is not high quality. For those of you in the know, think “Twilight.” The writing is self-important, predictable, cheesy, and only thing good I can really say about it is that it’s sincere. I don’t know how old the author is, but this is the level of writing I would expect from a junior high or high school student.
As for the content, there is nothing that’s really ‘new’ in this book. It’s basically an anarchist’s reinterpretation of christianity using new age ideas. The main theme is an attempt to solve the problem of evil by using an appeal to emotion. There is nothing in the way of evidence or reason offered, and many parts of the book can be considered anti-intellectual. The parts where it did mention something scientific, the author got it horribly wrong, including a bungling of quantum mechanics (to be fair, though, who doesn’t bungle quantum mechanics?), and the continuation of the idea of mind / brain dualism.
Important issues were brought up by the protaganist in the book. The doctrine of original sin is re-interpreted as ‘humans wanting their independence and getting it.’ To his credit, the author seems to skirt the issue of hell, and seems to imply that everyone goes to heaven no matter what, and holds to the idea that justice and grace are completely incompatible. That is a refreshing view from a christian, but nothing life-shattering.
Over all, I have to say this book really isn’t worth reading. My evening would have been better spent finishing up Proust was a Neuroscientist (review to be posted soon).