I have read a few books that have changed my life. These kind of books - the kind that change your life - are exceedingly rare. So rare, in fact, that I think that I have only collected a handful of them during my years of searching and reading. The titles that quickly come to mind are: The Kingdom of God is within You by Leo Tolstoy; The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith; Peace Child by Don Richardson; Night by Elie Wiesel; Reflections of a Peacemaker by Mattie J.T. Stepanek. These wonderful books are affective and effective. Reading them moves one’s mind and heart in a way that begs a personal change for the better. This holistic combination of affective and effective unction is exceedingly rare and seems to only happen when an inspirational force greater than the author is involved in the writing. Good books inform a reader; fantastic books inform and emotionally stir readers. That said, I honestly confess that I have never been more informed and stirred than I was last evening as I devoured page after page of a book by William P. Young called The Shack. The Shack is, as a result, now included in my personal list of rare and life-changing reads. Yes, it is that good!
I was not expecting much from William P. Young’s book. I admit that I approach Christian Fiction with more than a bit of cynicism. The genre is infamous for its total lack of originality and literary quality. The days of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and John Bunyan are long past, unfortunately. The Shack is, however, a hopeful and brilliant splash of color in a genre now laden with cliched blacks and greys. It is a story that does justice to the standard set by Lewis, Tolkien, and Bunyan. The book can stand on its own literarily; it is also surprisingly original. The book’s originality is profoundly obvious in its clear and accessible narrative reinterpretation of serious and contemporary theological issues. Actually, it is quite remarkable to witness a total ransacking of the academic academy’s pet issues in such entertaining, elementary, and enlightening fashion. Young is obviously very, very aware of the theological conversation unfolding today. He not only addresses this conversation in a relevant way that surpasses the arduous methodology of our day’s most decorated theologians, but also does it with creativity, originality, and story. This is, as any graduate from any seminary will surely attest, no easy feat.
I am not going to be a spoiler in this review. This story is too good for me to ruin it for you by revealing the premise, plot, and random pieces of the story line. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading fantastic books. In fact, I’m looking into buying a box-full for the members of our church. The Shack is that good. It is one of those life-changing reads that only manifest every 100 years or so. So, yes, get yourself a copy and block off a few hours of serious quiet time and read it. I sat comfortably in my study, listening to classical music, reading it until 2:00 AM in the morning. I laughed, cried, prayed, and nibbled on some sort of delicious but new cookie my wife made for us earlier in the evening, as I turned the pages of this very, very special book. It will be a book that remains with me for the rest of my days.
God, it seems, is very fond of me … and you! Thank you, Paul!
The proceeding was an Ooze Select Bloggers Book Review.