Title = The Shack
Author = William P. Young
Description = No Flannel-Graph Jesus
In the book world, it's hard to explain "the buzz." What causes word of mouth to start spreading? What turns an unknown author and novel into a surprise bestseller? Even more inexplicable for the book snobs is when a story fails to meet their literary standards and yet touches the masses in an undeniable way.

"The Shack" is the buzz book of the past few months. I hadn't even heard of it in November, but by the end of December I'd had relatives, friends, and online pals from across the country telling me I "had" to read this one. I've been burned by such recommendations in the past, particularly in relation to spiritually oriented titles. (Can anyone say "The Prayer of Jabez" and "Left Behind"?), but I was willing to give it a shot.

William P. Young's book has an intriguing premise. Years ago, a father name MacKenzie Phillips took his children camping and lost one of them to a man who has kidnapped and killed others. Mack has grieved since then. His marriage has struggled. Understandably, his relationship with God has suffered. Then, one wintry day, he receives a note in his mailbox inviting him back to the woods, to the shack in which his daughter's dress and bloodstains were found. The note, it would seem, is from God.

<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->A poorly written, philosophically bankrupt, theologically challenged airport novel. , March 18, 2009

By Drew Ross "Christian With A Brain"<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> (Sharpsburg, GA) -

Wow am I really going to feel like a wet blanket. I hate to say it after all of these awesome reviews of this book, but I really didn't like it. Not just on a theological level either. I just didn't get to the destination that others have. I really don't want to be negative, especially when others have been so impacted by it. But here is what I think about The Shack.

First of all, being a former literature teacher, I actually am shocked by the comparison with Pilgrim's Progress. You are talking about the most popular book in human history second only to the Bible. Pilgrim's Progress is known for its emotional impact more than its literary accomplishment, so they are similar in that. But I think that is where the similarities end. The Shack is not well written at all and focuses on only one primary issue. PP covers the entire Christian walk and does so in a most unique way. It is not only the pinnacle of Christian literature, it is the best of an entire genre (allegory). PP relies upon the everyday Christian's ability to relate to the character Christian and his entire adventure. The Shack relies almost completely on the effect of trauma done to the characters.

Secondly, the theological problems are difficult to overlook. I don't understand the mentality that says, God is pictured as a lot of things in the Bible, so why can't I picture Him/Her as whatever I feel comfortable with? Well, because one of the most devastating forms of heresy is to give God identifiable form, hence the graven images commandment. That's why Jesus was described as one that we would not find outstanding by Isaiah. I have discussed this topic earlier in the year on my podcast, Christian with a Brain. We are not supposed to put God in a box, whether that box be an old, bearded, caucasian male, or an overweight African-American female, it doesn't matter. The truth is that when even an angel enters the scene, people fall on their faces in awe. Making God a poker buddy isn't going to improve my relationship with Him.