For the longest time, The Shack has been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. Practically begging to be read, in fact.
My mom read this book a couple of years ago and strongly recommended it to me (no better way to put me off reading it, a trait I have in common with an amazing professor I once had). She’s even asked me a few times what I thought of it. My brother read it, too, and I’m pretty sure he got a lot out of it as well.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up The Shack and read it. It was a quick read, just a couple of days of subway rides.
If you haven’t heard of The Shack…well, I’m not sure where you’ve been for much of the early two thousands. No, I’m totally kidding. But really, here’s just a short snipit of background: After his young daughter is brutally murdered on a family camping trip (it’s a true story, and it’s my worst fear in so many ways. Needless to say, I didn’t handle this part of the book so well). Some time later, Mack receives a note in his mailbox summoning him back to the shack near the scene of the crime, and he returns, unsure of his exact intentions. While he is there, he meets God. Most of the book commences from here, as do my thoughts on it:
Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much I actually got out of the book, which surprised me given how many hold it in such high regard. I don’t know—something about reading about others’ reflections on their lives (like Mack’s, in the book) makes it tough for me to reflect on my own, or something like that. I guess I tend to get more out of books that don’t almost beg a personal reflection, as I felt this one did. For some reason, I felt like I was better able to connect with myself and my own beliefs and personal thoughts and things when reading a fictional piece than I was during my reading of this book. Weird? You decide.
Mack’s story was, however, touching. One thing I cannot say is whether I did or did not believe it. I can say with great certainty that whether or not the events within it are completely factual is in no way the point. Strangely, though, I also cannot say with any certainty whether I want the story to be factual. Of course, without question, I would want this story to be true for the sake of Mack and his emotional growth and well-being, and it obviously was true for him within his mind. But at least for me, stories giving any clear indication of what God is, or looks like, or feels like, or sounds like, or anything else, make me all the more uncertain of what might actually be true. I know, I know—the God in Mack’s story took several different shapes and felt several different ways, etc. etc. depending on what was being conveyed at any given moment. Essentially, though, I suppose, I want my own story. One day, I have to believe that I’ll know what’s true one way or another (even if that something is, well, nothing). It’s not that I don’t think this story comes close, or is false, or anything at all about it actually. It’s just that it’s not mine—and until it is, I’m not sure how much I can take from it. Until then, I’ll continue questioning my own faith through the characters I often connect with best—the fictional ones.
Apologies for the ramble!