Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to The Shack. My brain has been full of herbs, perennials, vegetables and good old fashioned dirt.
I’m not sure I can say that I love the book. Did it move me greatly? Yes it did. But like Mack trying to get Sarayu into focus; the ground seems to keep shifting under me and it’s more than a little difficult to write about. And to be honest, I’m a Methodist/ Celtic hybrid so I’m about seventy percent on the theology as it is.
To the reviewers who have such a problem with the book; it’s a work of fiction; darn it. No where does the author claim his work is equal to scripture; enough said. I guess everyone needs a hobby. Really, I'd rather be in the garden. I suppose one of the reasons I don't have a problem with God taking on the apperance of a woman and an African American to boot is that I'm absolutly sure that God has been hanging out in our garden. It's the best explanation for how much we've gotten done in the last week.
Seriously, the novel is one modern writers’ attempt to come to grips with the questions that were old when an unknown author wrote the book of Job. If God's creation is good how can there be evil in the world? How do we deal with suffering? How can we possibly forgive someone who has caused us nearly unbearable physical or spiritual pain? Mr. Young's answers may be incomplete. He's not the first to try and he won't be the last.
I found the question of forgiveness especially moving. It appears that it doesn’t matter if the person being forgiven even knows I've forgiven him. My act of forgiveness not only allows God (however we conceive him or her to be) to complete an act of redemption, it also allows God to work the miracle of healing for me. Granted that redemption may never happen, but I suspect that’s where miracles come into play. Stranger things have happened.
During World War II Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty was an Irish priest attached to the Vatican. Among his “unofficial” duties he worked with other resisters to hide Allied soldiers, pilots and Jews. To put it bluntly he entered into a game of wits with the SS security chief in Rome, Colonel Herbert Kappler. The colonel was accused and convicted of war crimes after the war. Sentenced to life in prison the colonel reportedly had one regular visitor; father O’Flaherty. In 1959 the former Nazi was baptized as a Catholic. I guess miracles do happen once in awhile.
For me, one of the most important messages is that no matter how bad it gets we don’t have to go through it alone. We may stumble, we may find ourselves facing great pain, but at least there is a hand stretched out to catch us.