shacking up

So I’m a little late with this one, considering as the book came out in 2007 and caused a major discussion soon after. But whatever, sometimes you need to do stuff in your own time. I was kind of reluctant to buy this book because I didn’t think it was really a book I’d want to reread, so I was lucky a friend loaned her copy to me (in English, no less). 

The synopsis: four years after Mack’s daughter was abducted and presumably gruesomely murdered, Mack receives a note from “Papa”, inviting him to the place where they found the last trace of her. Against his better judgment, he goes to that shack, where he meets God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, who proceed to turn his world upside down (to use such a cliché phrase).

What to say? It wasn’t bad, overall. I usually don’t read Christian fiction because, like a lot of genre fiction, other things are considered more important than writing well, (such as the message, or suspense, or …) and I read books for the beautiful prose they contain. Mostly, at least.

I think my main problem with this book is the same one I had when I was reading Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew. I didn’t grow up ‘in church’, so I don’t have the same stale images of God and Jesus that other people might have. Reading about God as a big black woman, and Jesus as a Hispanic carpenter, and the Holy Ghost as an enchanting Indian lady (I think she was Indian. Somewhere around there, anyway) therefore didn’t really do anything to or for me. I also questioned some of the theology in the book (for some reasons why, go read Tim Keller’s review of the book. I’m sure he knows much more about it than I do). Also somewhat distasteful to me is the fact that Young has the Trinity explain things to Mack, and thereby made his theology into God’s theology. Plus, some of the Trinity’s answers just didn’t satisfy me (that’s probably an effect of my  theology studies, and especially my Dogmatics class, which has me thinking about humankind, the nature of the universe, and God twice a week these days in strict academic language. I appreciate that I am not the average reader). Actually, my favorite part came on the last page, when Young quoted a lovely poem (that you can now find on the sidebar as the poem of the month!)

According to Wikipedia, Young first wrote the book for his six children as a Christmas present, and only later decided to (self)publish it after some of his friends got a hold of it. Somehow, that explains several choices Young made, and makes me appreciate the book more – and what a wonderful gift to get from your dad!

The book goes back to my friend on Sunday, and I’m not too sorry about that. It was a nice read, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype on the Internet. I’d give it a 6/10, primarily for the reasons listed above. But please, if it has changed your life, leave a comment and tell me how. I’d love to hear from people who did really like this book.

Now, who else will challenge my non-genre-fiction-reading ways and send a book my way?


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