The Shack by WM. Paul Young explores the spiritual journey of Mackenzie Philips, a father who has experiences one of the worst tragedies a parent could have. His youngest daughter, Missy, was abducted and never found. The only clue was her bloody dress found in an abandoned shack. Four years after the event Mackenzie gets a letter from God inviting him to the shack.
I didn’t think much of the book at first, but once I started reading it I was completely blown away. The book is absolutely amazing. It has one of the best representations of the Holy Trinity that I have ever read.
Jesus is portrayed as dark skinned and Middle Eastern, which will please anyone who is tired of white-washed Jesus. But just to be clear, I’m not saying that blonde haired and blue eyed Jesus is bad, all people should be able to have religious figures that look like them , the problem arises when one representation of a religious figure becomes the only representation or the major representation and majorly excludes any other form. The books does a great job allowing for very common religious figures to be presented with much more diversity, and in that respect, The Shack doesn’t disappoint.
God appears as a black female with attitude, the reason for this is stated with the simple explanation, “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me ‘Papa’ is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.” It acknowledges the trends that stereotype many different religions and the way people are conditioned to view them and breaks each and every rule of it.
The Holy Spirit is depicted as an Asian woman named Sarayu. She looks after the plants she also tends to disappear and reappear just like a ghost. She helps Mackenzie sort through his internal problems with the analogy of a messy garden which makes for a very touching conversation, “. . . And well you should, Mackenzie, because this garden is your soul—this mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And its wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems messy, but to me, I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive—a living fractal.”
The Shack breaks many of the stereotypical aspects of religious representation in relation to sex and race which makes for a very enjoyable and enlightening read. I highly recommend it if you haven’t started reading it already.