The Shack — Discernment Needed

A quick survey, please if you have a few minutes to spare. These first questions will merely require a yes or no answer. Thank you.

Did you buy any books of a spiritual nature this year? For example, books with God as the central character or with a theological theme or premise? Did you buy any Christian books? Did you buy any Catholic books? Is there a Christian bookstore in your town? A Catholic one? Are all Christian books equal? Does it matter to you, in your purchases of such books, if the author of the book is Catholic or not?

Second survey, please. These questions will require a response based on a scale of 1-10. If you agree completely then think 10. If you disagree completely think 1. If you are undecided think 5. Thank you.

Do you think the type of books a Catholic reads is important? Do you think it is legitimate for Catholics to read any book at all? Concerning Christian books, written about faith issues or topics but not by a Catholic author, should Catholics read those? Should they be concerned about the content if the book is written by a Christian and/or sold in a Christian store? Do you think the Catholic Church should bring back the “List of Forbidden Books”?

Why the questions? The Shack by William P. Young, a Christian book, is #1 on the NY Times Fiction Paperback Bestsellers list. As a result there are a good number of copies out there. We can safely assume, therefore, that a portion of these books were sold to Catholics. Unquestionably, even more Catholics have read it through their libraries, as a loaner from friends or in their neighborhood book clubs. Count this Catholic as one of those.

I heard it talked about on morning TV and picked it up from my library when I saw a copy available. The story introduces you to Mackenzie “Mack” Allen Phillips, who endures an awful tragedy that shakes his faith in God. He and his family are forever altered by this event, which reaches a critical point when he is invited by God to revisit the shack where the tragedy occurred. I don’t want to be a complete plot spoiler but there he meets God who appears as a large black woman whom Mack calls “Papa” and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman referred to as Sarayu. And Jesus? Well, Jesus is, respectfully, allowed to remain a carpenter of Middle Eastern descent.

After spending a few days at the Shack, I was left with some of the questions I posed at the beginning along with some quirky images and theories about God. Mr. Young wrote a book with the intention of getting you to reevaluate everything you think you know about God, the Trinity, your relationship with Him, Church — everything. While this may sound fascinating, throughout my reading the book I was shaking my head in both confusion and amazement. In his attempt to stretch every preconceived notion, Mr. Young often takes the point so far that I could only chuckle in amusement. Is he serious? Yes, he is. And sure enough, at the end you may find yourself reevaluating everything you thought you knew.

Not that I seriously did, as my faith is stronger than the Shack, but I couldn’t help but wonder about others who make the trip to the Shack, others who may not be well-formed in any faith, much less the Catholic faith, and are then left with some interesting viewpoints, but with much confusion.

By way of example, one of the comments made by Papa includes a discussion where Mack says, “Are you saying I don’t have to follow the rules?” Papa replies, “Yes. In Jesus you are not under any law. All things are lawful.” While a conversation with Jesus includes this stunner, “Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy.” Huh?

Conversations with the Holy Spirit figure are at times confusing with an overabundant use of the word “relationship.” There is also a character referred to as “Sophia,” who acts in the manner of a judge. I don’t know where she fits into the Trinity but she is a pivotal part of the plot. Her appearance emphasizes the point that three of the four spiritual characters are women, which seems to be an overt and unnecessarily critical attitude towards the traditional male references for God.

In the end, what I read was a book that appears to be Christian, but is decidedly not Catholic and works very hard to let us know that we have done everything wrong when it comes to knowing and understanding God.

Now, the fans of the book might say that all of my problems come from my Catholic upbringing and I am not being open enough. My parochial school background permanently stunted my spiritual growth. Some may even say that Mr. Young is stating what is actually Catholic thought in a new manner. I don’t know; he has written it in such an obtuse manner I couldn’t tell. Which brings me back to the survey. Does it matter?

Then there would be those who might say “Hurray! A Christian book is #1,” as if it doesn’t matter what the content or message is, as long as it mentions Jesus. In addition, many people who have not given God any regard are finding Him at The Shack. Others who have fallen from the faith due to their own faith crises are returning. It is to those people the book is directed. In an interview with Mr. Young I read, he mentions such people directly. He hopes people who have no contact with God or relationship with Him will begin one as a result of spending time in the Shack.

However, who are they meeting there? Is it a faithful depiction (even if fictional) of God or a completely fictional one? What about Catholics or other denominations for whom the God of The Shack doesn’t seem to resemble their God at all — gender and race issues aside? Does it matter?

For me, it should. I should have not read the book because I know myself well enough to realize that I have, as a good priest told me once in confession, a pretty strong hard drive. His comment had nothing to do with my computer skills, which are amateur at best, but rather my personality which seems to cling to words and images for a very long time.

By way of explanation, I have a checkered past when it comes to being a faithful Catholic. I am embarrassed to admit that I had a few years when my behavior was obviously sinful and only by God’s grace was I spared from completely ruining my life. Mercifully, I was able to find my way back to God and the Church but there are images and memories that still linger. Satan likes to trot these out once in awhile in a miserable attempt to ridicule me and tempt me to doubt or despair over God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. During this rather painful confession, the wonderful priest warned me about this aspect of my nature and recommended I memorize Philippians 4:8 — “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” and put it into daily practice.

As a result, knowing that my hard drive tends to keep hold of things longer than necessary or healthy, I have learned to be careful what I watch and read, especially popular literature, magazines, movies and TV. Many would say all of us should avoid such things but that is not for me to say. I just know I should.

I also know I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to matters of theology and Church teaching. As such, I have found that I need to pay particular attention to books about Who God is, His nature in dealing with us, His plan for us and other theological instruction, if they are not Catholic. I am not perceptive enough to know if a book written by someone who is not Catholic will give me an interpretation or opinion in agreement with Catholic teaching. As such, I read those books only if recommended by someone I trust; someone who knows about these things better than I. Many folks would say this is how all Catholics ought to act. Again, I don’t know.

So, what about those of us who already know and love God? Will spending time at the Shack help us grow in that love and knowledge of God? Was it true and honorable? For me, not so much. Though I will admit shedding the idea of God (the Father — am I allowed to even think that any more?) as a black woman was pretty easy to do, a number of questionable views about our relationship (I am really beginning to hate that word) remain. I plan on rereading something by Fulton Sheen or maybe even The Story of a Soul by Saint Thérèse to bring me back to reality. With those as a help, I’m sure I will leave any lingering doubts in the Shack. What I really regret is wasting my precious reading time, despite it being only a few nights, with this book. I don’t get much free time in my busy life and I feel my time with Mack was poorly spent.

This then brings me back to my real question about books such as The Shack or those by Christian phenoms Joel Osteen or Rick Warren. These books are being bought and read by any number of Catholics. Why? It isn’t as if we don’t have an abundance of good Catholic books and authors. We have proven winners from centuries past such as St. Francis de Sales as well as recent treasures from St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and our current pope, Benedict XVI. We even have lay writers, such as CE’s own Mark Shea, who can provide us with good food for thought.

Is it the packaging, the hype, the extra resources such as planners, tote bags, calendars, and greeting cards that come with the more popular titles that make them so appealing? Or, is it that they are just easier? Easier to acquire? Easier to read? I will admit it would be wonderful to think that I don’t need to try to imitate Jesus as he tells us at the Shack but I can’t help forget the rallying cry from 1 Peter 1:16. Remember, Scripture says, “Be holy, for I am holy,” quoting Leviticus 19:2. Granted, good Catholic reading materials might not be heavily promoted and you may not find the imagery as detailed as in Mr. Young’s book but you won’t be left wondering if what you are reading agrees with what our Church teaches.

This thought about the ease of reading material that may be harmful to our faith brings me to St. Paul who scolds the followers in Corinth that he could not speak to them as spiritual men but needed to feed them on milk as they were still infants in Christ. In the end, that is how I feel about The Shack. It may very well be milk to some people’s lives, offering them relief and solace in a difficult world. As Catholics, however, we’ve been fed on the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Shouldn’t that grace make us manly enough (yes, even us women) to be able to bypass The Shack and visit some place more challenging? While we may not want to venture to The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, we should be willing to check out Catholic books before risking our hard drives with questionable input.

My critics will now say that I am calling for a return to the “List of Forbidden Books” which I am not. I readily admit there are many people who can handle reading just about anything without any lingering effects. But, in solidarity with others like myself, I want to remind them that the discretion and prudence we exercise in making our choices needs to extend to materials that come from Christian sources (and some seemingly ‘Catholic’ ones) perhaps even more than from secular sources.

If the authors of these books cannot agree with us on the big stuff such as the Eucharist and Jesus’ own mother’s importance should we trust them with our time and our souls about the small stuff?

Is there really any small stuff when it comes to the nature of God and our relationship with Him?

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  • Catherine

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about this book and your reflections about keeping one’s faith intact. I think you have brought to light one of the most important issues for Catholics and the (survival of) Catholic faith in America. I’m American but I live far away from America. It gives me a different viewing point and this is the picture I see: that Catholics in America continue to lose essential elements of their identity–elements which set them apart from Christians who are not Catholics. And that identity has wasted away mostly because of many small, harmless things–like books such as the one you mention which are so easy to pick up and read. Think of all the books, magazines, internet, movies and TV programs which we consume everyday–how does one keep that stuff from doing to our Catholic faith what a little bit of water seeping through the roof can do to the inside of a home? Satan destroys us with the things he tempts us with…like Christian literature–which looks like a perfectly good apple!
    So hurray for “Life of a Soul”, it will certainly cure any ill effects of that tainted apple. And to completely erase the Shack experience from your hard drive, I recommend a book that is one of the Pope’s favorites, it’s a classic which seems to be little known in America: “The Lord” by Romano Guardini. –best wishes!

  • Pingback: The Shack — Discernment Needed | The Integrated Life Channel

  • http://www.neuroticatlarge.blogspot.com kevnjosf

    I’ve not read the Shack.. but i can understand what you mean…

    A book like Da Vinci Code, which spoke outrageous lies against Jesus was an easy target to condemn, because its fallacies were so obvious.But when it comes to non Catholic, yet Christian, books, the differences cannot be easily explained.. and to the general public, their thought pattern goes something along the lines of ‘Its about God so it must be good’….

    I guess part of the reason is availability… Boooks by people like Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen are very easily available as compared to Scott Hahn and Mark Shea, especially in countries like India (where i happen to live).

    I have a question, where do books by CS Lewis fall? He never converted to Catholicism….

  • CherylDickow

    Having taught a dozen years in the parochial school, there seemed to be thousands of Protestant books for my young charges but not any Catholic books. The difference? A Catholic book would keep their interest but also have, you know, Mary, the Sacraments, Priests, things that made the book “Catholic.” After years of frustration I began Bezalel Books and gave a voice to many incredible writers who proclaim their Catholic faith through their books for Catholics (youngsters, teens, and adults). If anyone would like to check out Catholic books for Catholic kids I highly recommend all the books by Joan L. Kelly (who, by the way, has been written up by Midwest Book Review as an author whose books should be on library shelves!) and also Rosemary McDunn’s “The Green Coat” which is a favorite because of its great values and a story that keeps everyone involved. Looking for great Catholic books for youngsters? Isabel’s Sister and Joseph’s Hands by Harriet Sabatini are pricless.

    Come on, fill your Christmas stockings with books for your family by Catholic authors!

    http://www.BezalelBooks.com

  • Ken Donajkowski

    Thanks for this alert. It has saved me from being misled by the hype.

  • delynn

    I bought a copy of The Shack during the summer, but just got around to reading it a few weeks ago. The initial storyline is quite well done. I was looking forward to a good read. I could handle, maybe, the idea that someone who had serious difficulties with their father may be able to understand God as a mother. Maybe.

    I didn’t get far enough to read some of the worst of it. I ended up being completely disappointed early on. Some of the depictions of God started sounding suspicious. I threw the book away. I didn’t even want to give someone else a chance to read it.

  • bambushka

    “is it that they are just easier? Easier to acquire? Easier to read?”…

    Like comic books?

    Coming from a large family of English teachers, I have always had my nose in a book. On a recent trip to my sister’s home, she asked if I ever read novels anymore, as she was accustomed to keeping me supplied with the latest NYT bestseller. I had to tell her, “NO”, life is too short to spend time with secular and tasteless drivel. There are so many good Catholic books today; my stack of unread gems seems almost taller than the ones I have completed. Too many are living outside of reality, through TV, magazines, and movies. I would rather armor myself for the fight to come with the lives of the saints and good apologetics. I have the feeling we will be needing these examples and skills in the next few years. Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Augustine and Chrysostom are some of my favs. Also Steve Ray and Fulton Sheen videos. On my mp3 I have the 20 part series of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Information Service. Good stuff, and free.

  • sinewave

    I think that this is not even Christian let alone Catholic (fully Christian) if I’m reading the examples right. No rules? Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Everything is lawful? St. Paul says, to paraphrase ‘all things are permissable but not all things are beneficial’ Jesus life is not supposed to be an example to copy? Over and over in the Bible God tells us we are supposed to love one another as Jesus has loved us, and again St. Paul says to be ‘imitators of us as we are imitators of Christ’ – can’t get too much more obvious. Maybe this book will help people without any faith come back to have some faith, but I’m afraid of what might happen when these people hear the full truth – it may be rejected if it doesn’t give them that same “feeling” as the book does. It reminds me of the stories of where Mohammed got his knowledge of Judaism and Christianity from: heretics and “cafeteria-type” Catholics and Jews of his time. Look what happened with that!

  • elkabrikir

    Years ago I bought DaVinci Code at Sams because it was cheap and I like period mystery novels for a quick light read (I’ve also learned a lot of history that way). I had no previous knowledge of the book.

    The book is set up such that the chapters alternate in telling stories. Ch 1 set up a murder (exciting), ch 2 began with anticatholic progaganda, ch 3 more on the mystery, ch 4 anticatholic stuff. and so on.

    By about 70 pp into the novel I decided three things: I wasn’t going to waste my time on such drivel, I wasn’t going to read anything that trashed my mother (the church), and finally I wasn’t sure my faith could withstand the insidious lies (avoiding near occasions of sin).

    I closed the book, returned it to Sams, scolded the innocent clerk (kindly) about Sams selling anticatholic material, and gave the money to charity. Not that I needed to feel vindicated, but the subsequent upheaval gave me an opportunity to thank my Guardian Angel for steering me in the right direction.

    There is so much good literature out there. Clue one that something is popular trash: it’s on Oprah’s List. Maybe it is good, but why risk it?

    I read about 3 books a month….usually simultaneously because, while chasing down 11 kids I can never find the book I’m currently reading, therefore, I begin a new one! Some books, like Natural Rights and the Right to Chose, by Hadley Arches the architect of the Fed Infants Born Alive Act, I read with a pencil in hand. Others like Under the Shadow of the Swastika, I read while mourning and vowing “never again”. I finished Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None (Agatha Christi) this month and wondered, “Why didn’t I ever read that before?” Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier struck me the same way. I also recently read He Leadeth Me by Fr Walter Ciszek, a wonderful Catholic faith autobiography.

    I always have saints books around and books of JPII. Plus, youth novels like anything by Willa Cather, or The Spear, and Father Brown Mysteries (GK Chesterton) aren’t simplistic for being simple (to all you homeschooling moms, you already know that) .

    Go to Cheryl’s website, or the CE store (see link on the gray bar above) they’ll never steer you wrong.

    Pray to your Guardian Angel to open your eyes to the truth in anything you read and you’ll read through the eyes of faith……and if you’re bored while staring at the computer, nursing or passing time, google any encyclical or pope’s letter, like Veritas splendor, and read it.

    Of course CE is always a great read too!

  • marcey

    I agree with elkabrikir! Cheryl’s site http://www.BezalelBooks.com was recommended to me by a homeschooling mom and I have fed my family and classroom on great Catholic books ever since!

    My high school students LOVED “The Story of Peace” by Miriam Ezeh and so did their parents! Not an easy task to accomplish.

    My own daughters are reading the “All Things Girl” series and are eagerly anticipating the last two books. The journal has been a joy and I can respect their need for privacy when writing in it because it is completely Catholic in its questions and reflections.

    This site has been a gift and I am always checking back for new titles that they’ve added.

  • liturgylover

    Thank you so very much for hitting the nail on the head! You would be shocked (maybe not!) by the number of Catholics who come into our Catholic bookstore asking for The Shack, DaVinci Code, etc. These are faithful, practicing Catholics, but media hype and non-Catholic friends and acquaintances are enough to draw these good people to these types of books and then “get them thinking” about all the values they hold dear. We will order a book for someone who really insists, but not before trying to steer them to a good Catholic alternative. We don’t keep the books in stock, though–shelf space is too precious in our store to waste on non-Catholic books (even those written and sold by “Catholic” authors and publishers!) One question too: Is an imprimatur necessarily a guarantee that a book is solidly Catholic? Or are there bishops who just rubber stamp sometimes? Thanks again for a great and thought provoking article!

  • katieL

    I read “The Shack” and was also shaking my head at the liberties taken. It didn’t draw me from my faith, just cauesd a puzzled expression most of the time. Now I’m reading Mother Theresa’s Secret Fire, a much better choice. Within those pages, Rachel, you will find that God does indeed “thirst” for YOU.

    God Bless

  • tarasz

    Woo-hoo! I’m loving this conversation. Recently I wondered if I was focusing too much on Catholic literature, because the fact remains, there really is a lot of great secular stuff out there. But as bambushka said, “…life is too short to spend time with secular and tasteless drivel. There are so many good Catholic books today”!

    Amen. I’m hardly finished one great Catholic book when I see two or three or ten more that I can’t wait to start. Thank you all for letting me know that I’m not closing my mind off to the world…I’m opening my mind more and more to the Truth.

  • siobhan32

    You know, it’s funny you should mention ‘list of forbidden books’ because way back when davinci code was published, the good priest spoke in his homily about the dangers of reading heresy. He said “I am not telling you what not to read. Don’t read it.” End of discussion.

    I think Catholics should have a list of ‘read at your own risk’ books/movies for the very reason Rachel states: “Satan likes to trot these out once in awhile in a miserable attempt to ridicule me and tempt me to doubt or despair over God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.” Why give him ammunition? Why deliberately fill your memory with these? When we were kids, the nuns told us not to look at or read anything remotely ‘unclean’. So, if Catholics today are all over the map, wouldn’t a little guidance be a good thing???

  • Parrish

    C.S. Lewis’s work is perfectly acceptable material as long as you avoid obviously Protestant proclamations; the difficulties facing C.S. Lewis often are the same ones we face today. I like the way a foreword to “The Great Divorce” by a Catholic author put it: “…whereas men like C.S. Lewis, though they themselves cannot see over the mountain pass, stand nearly at the top, pointing us on.”

  • yblegen

    Oh my gosh, I was amazed at how my life story pararells yours. I am so glad that I didn’t read “The Shack” although many people around me were promoting it as a great book. However, I like you, must also have a very strong hard drive that clings to word and images for a very long time. I have never been able to watch a “scary movie. The movies or books that have bothered me the most are the ones that show someone dying, coming back to earth as a spirit and never talking about God. It’s only happened a couple of times, but that was more than enough for me. But I will mince over images and words for nights upon nights. I had to give up novels for a long time because I actually climb into the book that I am reading so that I am there and sometimes it is hard to climb back out.

    Although, I also went to parochial school, I didn’t know much about my faith after graduation. When I finally wanted to know more, I didn’t know where to go or who to ask. Not wanting to pick up a book that would mislead me in any way, I didn’t know which books to buy to learn more about my Catholic faith because like Catherine said, ” a little bit of water seeping inside your home” can cause a lot of damage. I didn’t want to learn the wrong stuff.

    I was told that I have a “Catholic Heart” in the sense that I literally feel a knife in my heart when I hear something that is wrong about my faith. The problem, though, was that I didn’t know what the right answer should have been. Finally, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I began finding books, people, websites like CE and TV channels like EWTN that have lead me to begin the journey into a great discovery about the faith of my fathers. As a result, I tell everyone I can about CE, about the books I’ve found, about EWTN and anything else that can help someone, anyone begin their own journey of discovery.

    I agree with the others that we should have a list of “forbidden books” and movies. Sometimes, the names are deceptive. If I just had an idea that the subject is negative about my Catholic faith, it would save me from spending my precious time and money on something that will make me angry and leave me with many sleepless nights.

  • adirondack

    “The Shack” is really not a good novel.What it is is theology with a story wrapped around it—that’s not the makings of a good novel. It is mostly “telling” but not enough real showing as is done in good novels, although it tries but fails to show. The theology is “process theology”–God is a process. The novel abhors any institutional church; there are no “rules” just love. The great contradiction in all of this is that if it wasn’t for the institutional churches (Catholic and Protestant) no one would have ever heard of Christ or the Trinity. There is also lots of pop psychology about feelings emotions etc. I hate to say this but the author deliberately pulls heartstrings—bad father, suffering son and tragic daughter. While I am a Catholic I’m reading this in my local Protestant Church with mostly Protestants. I’ll be anxious to see what they have to say.

  • Mary J.

    Amen, Rachel! You have put into words my exact feelings with regard to non-Catholic books! The Shack and the other books you mentioned have left me with “inner red flags” waving and much doubt and confusion, not to mention the fact that the reading time could have been better spent. How disappointing. Perhaps it’s just the way I’m “hard-wired”, as you put it – I am a very visual person, too, and the images stay with me for a long time.

    My Spiritual Director advised me to always begin with “Truth”. That was the best advice he could’ve given me!

    God bless you and thanks for an awesome column!

  • gunner

    Brothers and sisters – I read “The Shack” after being given the book by my dad who only hinted that there was a lot of controversy about it. I’m glad that I read it before exploring what was being said. Firstly, I believe the book was inspired. Having been born and raised Catholic, leaving the Church for years (probably typically) but thankfully under God’s Grace returning years ago, I was drawn by many things, one of which was the events at Medjugorje. I believe that God uses many tools to call us, even authors of fiction. What I have found interesting over the years is how the Catholic church (which means “Universal” not “fully Christian”) can be so exclusionary. Scripture is quoted above from John’s Gospel (I assume since the author doesn’t indicate) 15:10 : “You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, …”
    But as so often happens, this is taken out of context to support a point. But what was Jesus’s point? What was his commandments? “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Isn’t that calling out our relationships with others? If you read (present tense) “The Shack” you can’t miss this message. What is first? Our relationship with God. Why? Because we can’t do the rest without Him. What’s next? Mack’s relationship with his own father – forgiving as we want to be forgiven by God. When is Mack complete? When he learns to forgive his enemy.
    That (and more) is what the book is about. That is what the Torah was (is) about. This is the Gospel. It is about relationships. And the book may be “milk” for many who need it. I pray that many who lack faith in God may find Him in “The Shack”. For me, I found Him in scripture, His own writing to us. While I have read Scott Hahn and C.S. Lewis, no one has given me a better glimpse of Abba (Papa) than His own Word. Why is it that of all the books we Catholics read [above], not once is His book mentioned? If we read it, why don’t we understand? I think its interesting that Mr Young captured well the nature of Man who is told through scripture that he is loved, but who still brings a misunderstanding of that love into his relationship with God. As a father, I have a better understanding of unconditional love. I better understand a “wrath” tempered by love. The temptation to “control” my children giving over to allowing them to make mistakes and being there to love them anyway.
    If this book of fiction is a danger and threat, I suggest you break out the “Good Book” and get to know God through His Word, not someone else’s.

  • Siobhan

    I also read ‘The Shack’ and, I’m most sorry to say, I didn’t stop reading even though I knew it really was dangerous and finished the book. I’m not a spiritual director, but I would urge others not to think, as I foolishly did, that you’re able for reading such material, that you won’t be adversely affected, and that you don’t have to ask for permission to read it. (Even people who study dangerous books to refute them, for instance, have to ask for permission!) In future, I must combat any temptation to pride with prayer and humility and throw such books in the bin…and then set the bin on fire! (And if I don’t own them, to take similar action so as to burn them in a non-literal way.) Seriously, some books really are only ‘good’ as burning material.
    I appreciate the warning in this article. Kudos Rachel!

  • Ellen

    I am Catholic, and after LOVING “The Shack”, do not find my faith endangered in the least. It is a novel, for heaven’s sake, not Scripture! In fact, I am astounded at some insights I picked up. For example, on page 221 the figure of the Trinity called “Papa” says “And the Law that once contained impossible demands–’Thou shalt not…’–actually becomes a promise we fulfill in you.”

    WOW. If we are fully allowing God to live in us, we will finally have a power that allows this to be true: we will not steal. We will not commit adultery. We will honor our father and mother, etc.That adds a LOT to my understanding of things, and I found that increased understanding to be true at so many moments in the book.

    Because it is not Scripture, it does not have to be perfect, and it isn’t. Of course Jesus founded a Church, and of course ritual was important among the Jews and among the followers of Christ, for example.

    So in my opinion, read the book. It is wonderful. Then discuss it in Catholic groups to discern its meaning and acknowledge both its exciting insights and where it falls short. It should shake up the Church, and enliven it to the core. It is an amazing book.

  • Joyce

    This book before Vatican ll would be on the LIST of FORBIDDEN BOOKS…WHY, because it is not CATHOLIC and would not help one know and live their Catholic Faith. Why anyone would waste their time on books that have NO CATHOLIC value, is a WASTE of the time God gives us to know and learn our CATHOLIC FAITH. Wewill be accountable for time wated in reading PROTESTANT FICTION. This book is a near occassion of sin, it could definitely lead one to doubt their Catholic FAITH. St. Paul says to work out your salvation with trembling and fear….he didn’t say that becasue once saved always saved….no, we can loose our Catholic Faith, when going off the narrow path…better to read CATHOLC FICTION< before Vatican ll, you most likely will not find and Heretical teaching. -joyce

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