In the last couple of months I’ve been reading some Christian books because of volunteer work I’m doing at my church (Plainfield United Methodist Church, for those of you who are interested…), but I’m just going to review one of them, The Shack.
Perhaps its the contrarian in me, but the fact that some very conservative Christian denominations were condemning this book as being non-Biblical and recommending against it made me want to see what all the fuss was about. What I would like to say is this–don’t listen to them! The Shack by Wm. Paul Young is a wonderfully refreshing book that will challenge you to think of the Trinity in a totally new way. To those who lay the claim it’s not Biblical, I say this: how do you understand the Trinity without metaphor? The Bible doesn’t say much other than the Trinity is, rather like the name of God is I AM. Since the first century man has wrestled with this Trinity concept. No one has a complete grasp on it, and we’ll never truly understand it because we’re not God. Only God can fully comprehend how there can be three persons that make up one God. So each generation has thinkers who stretch themselves and stretch us by giving us their thoughts on it. Young does that, and it’s refreshing. The story is an account of a man whose daughter dies a horrible, tragic death, and he is angry at God about it. Through an encounter with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit at the shack where his daughter died, he comes to understand the goodness of God and accept that we must trust and put our faith in Him, that He’s not responsible for the sins of the world, but through Jesus He completely understands what it is to be human. He will never leave us, even as we experience the human consequences of sin in this world. He wants to be with us.
I recommend this book! I won’t claim it’s the best written book I’ve read (in fact, there are whole passages that aren’t well-written), but Young’s insight into how we might understand God is compelling. And if you reject his notion, what harm has come from reading it? It’s not wrong for us to be challenged in what we believe, and The Shack will help you wrestle with theological concepts you may not even have thought about. One way or another, it will make a difference in your spiritual life.
Sticking to the Christian theme, Saving Mattie is Phil Dunlap’s first Christian Western, and it’s terrific. His hero, Rawhide Smith, wasn’t looking to save a 12-year-old girl when rides his horse up to a homestead; he was looking for work. Instead he finds a defiant young girl with a shotgun aimed at him. She’s been through a most horrific encounter with outlaws–she witnessed them kill her parents. He feels it’s his moral duty to be responsible for her until he can find a family to look after her. In the process, he ends up being hired by a corrupt cattle baron who will stop at nothing to shoot innocent people and take their land and cattle. Rawhide is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to Mattie’s parents, but on his own can he stand up to the gunslingers in the baron’s gang? When he meets Marshal Moses Brewster, he finds he’s not alone. Still, they’ll need some luck and another helper to right the wrongs that are being done to the gritty homesteaders trying to make an honest living out in the West. Phil has a gift for bringing the Old West alive. You will enjoy Saving Mattie!
More at my next update!