Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Shack and Humility

I promised you a review of The Shack. One of my buddies, responding to my solicitation last Friday, said that William P. Young was at a book signing in Collierville, Tennessee last week. 4,000 people stood in line to receive his autograph on their copy of the book.

It's a bestseller. It's become its own phenomenon.

And it's weird.

Insightful? Yes. Intriguing? Yes. But way over the top in its mis-characterization of God's attributes and its pluralistic outcome. Yeah, I understand its fiction, but still.

The story centers around a tragedy in the life of Mackenzie Phillips. Mack is invited by letter back to a remote Shack where the tragedy culminated. There, he is met by the personification of the Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- but not in manifestations that are akin to the testimony of Scripture. The book's aim is to fictionally capture the confrontation of the realities of tragedy and eternity.

While the story is creative, there are a host of insightful, thought-provoking exchanges on the possible ways God works good in all things. I found myself most engaged, though, in its repeated refrain of humility.

For example, Young quotes Marilynne Robinson with these words: "...we are so persuaded of the rightness of our own judgment as to invalidate evidence that does not confirm us in it" (67).

Or how about this one? "When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to each other (speaking of the human propensity to sacrifice the relationship for the quest of being right). Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness. Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want" (123).

While there's an inordinate amount of bone to spit out, the meat that captured me were these reminders of humility as essential ingredients of healthy relationships. Our pride and self-will often blinds us to realities we don't want to see or acknowledge. Humility won't allow it.