Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shack

It was very nice, during a busy return day at work, to receive a CaringBridge notice from Lea Morrison. Lea, another one of those cyber-friends we haven't met or spoken to, received great news. She's leukemia free 10 months post transplant. I enjoyed reading the joy in her words. It never gets old to hear someone celebrate life with others.

I'm checking in regularly with Ann Gregory and her battle with ALL. On the way back from New Mexico, we switched planes in Houston. Dori and I both realized Ann, another world wide web friend in the blood cancer fraternity, was nearby in a Houston apartment recovering from her recent transplant at M.D. Anderson. Ann, we continue to draw from your courage and beacon.

One highlight from the weekender was the opportunity to read on the airplane. Dori spotted a book Friday in the airport bookstore that my mother recently read and recommended - The Shack, which has been on the New York Times best seller list, by William P. Young. If you haven't read it, bring a lot of energy and strap yourself in. It's intense, wonderful outside-the-box reading.

Before I review it (I won't give away the plot), I have to acknowledge why some may not like the book. It can be easily construed as preachy and over the top. As it explores our pre-conceived notions of religion, the Trinity and everything related, the author uses snappy, downloadable questions from the main character, Mack, to enable the unorthodox characters representing the Trinity to fill in the holes.

OK, enough for the fair and balanced portion of the review. The Shack challenged everything I learned about religion in six short hours. Not that I accepted everything I learned about religion over the years, but I found wonder and joy in the author's handling of why we question our faith and love in God. Through Mack, Young lets us experience the deep sorrow, anger and disappointment that has undermined or attempted to undermine many people's faith in God.

Young aims to convince us that God's outlook for each person will bring calm to stormy waters. "I'm especially fond of him" was Papa's (God's) oft-repeated line about many individuals. The exploration of our humanity, our emotions (or lack thereof) and our willingness to revere institutions (government, wealth, fame, whatever) over God's love were also revealing. I especially agree with the institutions conclusion - No political party has the answers, contrary to what they want us to believe.

I felt uncomfortable reading a few parts of the book, which isn't a bad thing at all. Since we're human, many of us tend to shoe-horn religion and Bible verses as we see fit - to rationalize, hide or even overpower. Religious attendance and appearances aren't prerequisites for everlasting life, nor is ignoring taking the time to get closer to God. Religion can be an intoxicant, the author asserts, to the detriment of our relationship with God. Some so-called believers even view non-Christians as unchosen or damned.

The author uses the plot to convince us otherwise ... that God's perfect love with his Son and Spirit reveal an openness and acceptance to which we should all aspire. God's perfect love is freeing and comforting. I feel this with my family at times and wished I felt it more often. Something to aspire to ...

I didn't agree with every conclusion by Mack or the characters who made up the Trinity; however, I learned a lot about my own views - some good and some where improvement is needed. I did have this reinforced: Tragedy and fear beckon the love and forgiveness of our Creator. That was a recurring theme as we navigated the stormy seas of leukemia.

Thanks, Mom, for the recommendation.

No comments: