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Thursday, August 14, 2008
Book Discussion - The Shack (Week 2)
Well, the best of intentions seem to have lead me down a path of glorious defeat. Still on vacation and I've lost track of my days. Whoops. So I'll post this on the other "T" day in the week, apologize, and give you a beautiful photograph in compensation.



This was taken by my husband at the lake we're staying at. But we're going home soon, so next week I'll be back in the regular swing of things again.

Now we've gotten the matter of criticism out of our systems. We can get down to what we like about this book. There's so much to talk about, but let's start with the global ideas and work our way back to the little bits and pieces.

Three questions up for discussion this week:

First, Eugene Peterson has described "The Shack" as " a book that “has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!" Do you agree or disagree with that statement and why? It's been a pretty controversial statement in the blogosphere and elsewhere, so it would be fun to talk about it here. A corollary question, what do you think Peterson was getting at when he made such a sweeping overstatement?

Second, what do you think is the most important contribution that "The Shack" has to make to Christians? To our culture at large? Is the contribution the same or different? and (of course) why or why not?

Third, (for fun) what was your favorite part of the book? Do you find yourself speaking it out or carefully saving it away in the safe places of your mind?
 
posted by Sonja Andrews at 6:23 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


3 Comments:


  • At 8/15/2008 10:41:00 PM, Blogger Deb

    My husband and I were discussing the book today. We came to consensus that the reason why it has been connecting with this generation is because it relates to the relational essence of our lives with Christ. It's not just a theological construct... it's reality.

    We also enjoyed envisioning "God" as being black, Jewish, Asian, male, female, young, old, ageless... especially those who think that "God" is always white, old and a man. Oh. and speaks King James English! ;)

    I think Peterson was trying to say that when we find a way to speak God's truths into a cultural reality, we are coming closer to what Jesus did with parables. Young has succeeded. Batterson and others who have slam dunked him are envious because they have not, as yet, succeeded in doing this.

    And the biggest reason why many people have their knickers in a knot is the simple truth that they do not believe women can be pastors, let alone represent God in a work of fiction.

    And my favorite part of the book? Mack learning how to walk on the water (take your shoes off!) LOL...

    Deb
    who has a blog and is selling nothin... :)
    And who really is one of Papa's favorites!

     
  • At 8/16/2008 07:36:00 PM, Blogger Sensuous Wife

    I've been SO looking forward to this book discussion...all Summer long!

    I'm so glad I finally had a Saturday off so I can blog. So on to your great questions.

    First, Eugene Peterson has described "The Shack" as " a book that “has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!" Do you agree or disagree with that statement and why? It's been a pretty controversial statement in the blogosphere and elsewhere, so it would be fun to talk about it here. A corollary question, what do you think Peterson was getting at when he made such a sweeping overstatement?
    Yes, I agree. Because in this age of information overload, we are so in need of a story of one man and his journey with God. Also we relate to Mack, his journey feels like our own because we all have suffering at some point in our life and Mack has the guts and the opportunity to ask all the questions many of us wanted to ask. Which is why I find the answers Mack got so satisfying. We need a God who is THERE. That's the marvelous picture The Shack gives us.

    Second, what do you think is the most important contribution that "The Shack" has to make to Christians? To our culture at large? Is the contribution the same or different? and (of course) why or why not?
    Goodness, only one? I'm speechless.
    Okay, I'm going on to plan b in the case of my recent speechlessness, and pulling a quote from one of my blog posts from July last year when I was talking about this book.
    [quote]My initial takeaways:
    *profound comfort
    *a deep knowing that everything will be alright
    *knowing God and being known by God
    *the simplicity and beauty of the Trinity
    *which gave me the grace to embrace the relational aspect of my nature as a birthright from being made in the image of God instead of a weakness to be overcome through self-reliance
    *I no longer treat my relational nature as a spiritually immature stepchild who will one day get it together and only need God and no other people

    I first talked about this just a few days ago on Friday. I was really wrestling with the idea of...
    Quote:
    The paradox between needing God and needing other people. I understand the bit about not putting your confidence in man. About not making idols out of people and expecting them to be your God.

    However, another truth is steadily attempting to grab my attention and that is: that not everybody is called to go live in the relational wilderness like Grizzly Adams saying "I can get whatever I need just me and God".

    Reading The Shack taught me that my desire for relationship is right as rain. It's part of my birthright for being made in the image of God. For God is in constant relationship in the Trinity.
    I'm an offspring of the Trinity and the Trinity is in constant loving relationship with each other. So my desire to connect with and interact with other believers is not some weakness to be overcome it's my spiritual family resemblance showing! This truth alone will have huge ripple effect in my life.[/quote]

    Third, (for fun) what was your favorite part of the book? Do you find yourself speaking it out or carefully saving it away in the safe places of your mind?

    It's a tie. When Papa and Jesus and Sarayu help Mack bury Missy in the garden of his own heart. And when Papa opens the door and Mack is greeted with the unmistakeable timbre of an African American mama's voice calling him by his whole name "Well as I live and breathe! Mackenzie Allen Phillips, come on in here son!" I grew up in the Deep South and I know what that feels like. The sound the unique warmth and timbre of an African American woman's voice saying come heah dahlin and lemme hug yo neck, the feel of being enveloped in a bosomy hug, the smell of perfume and the feeling of being mothered and loved down to the tips of your soul. God taking on that image? I was hooked.

     
  • At 8/18/2008 07:53:00 PM, Blogger Erin Crisp

    We are quite accustomed to packaging our God-stores into neat 20 minute sound-bites. I've heard more sermons, lectures, devotions and talks than I care count. I work at a seminary so I'm engaged in God-talk several times every day.

    But for all of my conversation about who God is, what he does, what interpretations of scripture are closer to Truth and what the original Greek meant by this or that, I'm often still left with a flat, fuzzy, dry, crackling picture of who God is. Before reading the book, imagining God, for me, was like 30 second commercials in my brain- disjointed blips here and there of images from old testament children's Bible stories, flannel graph pictures, and big oil paintings of pale white men in long robes with rosie cheeks, halos of light above them and perpetual clouds of mist around them. My images were disjointed, random, cheesy and had no relationship with one another. Blurry, black and white commercials stretching on and on in my imagination.

    Now, I find that in my times of prayer and meditation (which by the way often happen while driving the kids to school, getting groceries or running) I find myself lost in the garden of my soul- imagining brilliant colors, patterns, lights, a feast for the senses at every turn and the triune God in the midst of it all- all members of the trinity relating perfectly to each other in a way that exemplifies what holy relationship looks like. I have a full technicolor film score backdrop in my imagination as the frame for my thoughts about and toward God.

    Do I have concerns about some specific pieces of content in the book? Sure. I've read some of the criticism written, and I agree with some of it.

    But, I think the difference this book will make in Christians and any others who choose to read it is that it gives a setting, a frame of reference for the disjointed messages we hear about who God is and what he does.

    A concern I have is that we may see the rise of a "Shack theology" that measures the validity of a thought by whether or not it measures up to the God presented in the Shack as opposed to the living God himself. Overall though, I think this book will open up the realness of God to a whole new group of people. It certainly deepened my understanding of the trinity, and as for my favorite part, I love the image of the Holy Spirit tending to the garden of my soul- tearing out beauty at times to make room for something important, crazy disorder to the naked eye, but from above a beautiful,unique pattern. I can see this played out in my own life and in others' lives over and over again.

     

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