Usually I think of novels as a pleasant way to while away (meaning waste) some time.  So, when I was given The Shack by a friend I was willing to read it, so we could discuss it, but I didn’t expect too much.  Twenty-four hours later I have not only finished reading The Shack but feel the need to blog about it and tell the world that this is an unusual and worthwhile book.

The Shack is a New York Times best-seller by Wm. Paul Young (Windblown Media, July 2008).  The subtitle, Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity capsulizes the plot:   Mack’s beloved daughter Missy is abducted, brutalized and killed and he lives under The Great Sadness, mad at God and the world.  Then God (aka Papa) writes him a note and invites him for a weekend to The Shack where Missy’s red dress and blood had been found on the floor.

This is a book that attempts to clarify imaginatively the way God works in the world – how he brings good from evil (though he doesn’t cause evil), how we have free will to follow God, or not – difficult questions that folks have grappled with for ages.  At one point Mack awoke from a dream and remembered:   “He was still at the shack with those three interesting characters, all of whom thought they were God.”   The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were present at The Shack in human form.  While many people think of God, the Father, as an old white man with a beard, Wm. Young prefers to present the human manifestation of God as a young black woman.  After all, we are all — young, old, male, female, black, white — made in the image of God.  Why not?  As God herself says to Mack:  “I am holy and wholly other than you.”

The interplay between the persons in the Trinity is thought-provoking.  The dialog brings home to Mack (and the reader)  the love and mercy of God, the reason for the sacrifice of the Son, and the leading of the Holy Spirit in fresh ways.  At one point it actually brought me to tears.

Over five million copies of The Shack have sold thus far.  Many are calling the book life-changing and telling their friends it is a “must read.”  There are plans for a movie.  In the beginning those behind the book could not find a publisher because “Christian publishers thought it too controversial and wanted to dull its edgy side so as not to risk alienating their core audience.  Secular publishers shied away because they felt the content put it clearly in the ‘Christian’ marketplace…..”   This problem was solved by starting their own company which they called Windblown Media.

Of course I had to look up Windblown Media to see if it really meant they felt the Holy Spirit had a role in producing the book.   The quote in this article by Wayne Jacobsen, one of the book’s backers, left no doubt:

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.  (John 3:8)

In a nutshell, “Windblown Media is designed to publish books for the spiritually hungry and we are convinced that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only true God and source of life for those seeking spiritual answers.”

The book does not attempt to point its readers toward a particular church but to Jesus, the Father and the Spirit.  For those who have called it heretical, see IsThe Shack Heresy?

It is my personal opinion that The Shack is “windblown.”


We know that in everything God works for good with them  who love him, who are called according to His purpose. — Romans 8:28