Friday, January 23, 2009

Deconstructing The Shack

Gospel-Drive Blog is reposting Dr. James DeYoung's critique of The Shack. I spoke with a woman in a physician's office the other day who was reading the book, and I wish I'd read Dr. DeYoung's essay before that conversation.


Blogger David Cooke said...

Thanks for this-I likewise recently faced a room full of Christians who had been overwhelmed by this book and I was the sole cautionary voice. I felt I floundered rather like you describe. Very helpful.

12:42 AM, January 24, 2009  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Glad to hear it. Thanks for letting me know.

8:55 AM, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Bill Gnade said...

Dear Milton,

I read "The Shack" last year. It is impossible for me to share with you the many ways I found the book utterly repugnant. I hated it thoroughly. Not only was it doctrinally deficient and puerile, it was downright cheesy. And that's just what was good about it.

Like many Christians, I stood incredulous at the reaction I got when I bluntly stated that I hated the book. Some of my church friends reacted as if I was doubting the inerrancy of the Holy Bible. Others dismissed me as being too analytical, too "serious." You know what I mean: I was rejected as being "too intellectual" and that I was guilty of "thinking too much."

But the fact is the book is taking hold in large part because it is so "effective." I recently saw a TV interview with the author; he justified the work by citing the many lives the story has touched. And I cannot deny that lives have been touched. I suggested to a friend of mine who writes young adult fiction that she read it; she had lost her only children (two sons) in less than a year. I figured that she, being a devout Christian and excellent thinker -- and very outspoken about how poorly Christians minister to grieving friends -- I figured she'd pan the book. Instead, she lauded it beyond the heavens. She found comfort and solace; she thought the book completely effective.

Seriously, I find the whole thing positively dumbfounding.

I admit I found the scene in the cave, the "courtroom" scene, rather interesting. But in parts and as a whole, I thought the book really quite tacky. (Tawdry is really a better word, I think.) And sacrilegious comes to mind, too. (Granted, I did get sucked in by the abduction narrative; I am weak-kneed in the face of such violence against children.)

Lastly, I specifically felt that the book was anti-Catholic.



PS. I know I must always sound like a crank to you; I admit I am nearly always going off on something. But I am really a very jolly guy, impossible as that may sound. Let me put my review of "The Shack" this way: Jesus is my shepherd, and I know his voice. The voice I hear in "The Shack" is not one whit familiar.

Does that make sense?

9:28 PM, January 31, 2009  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Yes, it does make sense. And no, you don't sound like a crank.

Your observations that The Shack is being hailed as "effective" brings to mind a comment W.H. Auden once made illustrating the hazard of equating effectiveness with appropriateness. In Auden's day the issue was psychological Behaviorism, which treated human beings as mere stimulus-response machines. Defenders of behaviorism argued that, as much as we may not like it, Behaviorism "works." To this Auden replied (and I'm trying to quote here from memory), "Of course Behaviorism 'works.' So does torture. Give me a no-nonsense Behaviorist and a few electrical appliances, and in six months I'll have him reciting the Athanasian Creed in public."

10:10 AM, February 02, 2009  

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