Monday, April 19, 2010

In-process book report

I'm reading The Shack right now. Finally. I'm probably the only person who HASN'T read it yet. Kevin and Anna have been sick with the flu, so I've had lots of time around the house to read.

And honestly, I'm having a hard time taking it seriously. I was totally feeling for Mack in the beginning, but some of the God stuff just seems so...contrived. And some of what the author is trying to get across just seems so...obvious. He keeps using these racial descriptions, and I know he's really trying to hammer home that God isn't white, but expressions like "distinctively Asian woman" and his repeated use of "big black woman" are just too much. I will also confess that Jesus giving God a footrub was a bit much. :)

A lot of Christians have taken issue with The Shack's theology, but other than the author's thinly-veiled disdain for the institutionalized church, there have only been a few things I'd take issue with so far. Some of the controversy was perhaps a bit overblown.

I love to lose myself in a book...I love when novels reveal deep truths...but I'm finding that I'm just not particularly moved by this one. I know many people have been, and I'm not finished with the book yet, so I'll have to let you know how it all turns out in the end!

Did you read The Shack? What did you think?

23 comments:

joy said...

i did read it awhile ago. i remember my one big take away was that i don't put God at the center of my life. I tend to put him at the "top" of my to-do list and then check, I'm done with that requirement for the day. i don't think it's particularly well-written, but i did appreciate the idea that God isn't in any box we may have built for Him. i also didn't know much about it before i read it and had i known it was controversial, i may have been more on the look out for theological differences. but, i just kind of read it, took what i wanted from it and left the rest alone. can't wait to hear your final thoughts!

Rachel said...

Nope. Didn't read "Blue Like Jazz" either. I did read The Flat Belly Diet and a Dr. Laura book in the last few weeks. :) I wasn't moved by either of them though.

andreawilliams said...

I was not a fan of the book. I may be one of the only ones. It was like the author tried to hard...

Brianna Heldt said...

Rachel, HA! I've read two books by Dr. Laura ("10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Marriage", which was a wedding gift, ha, and "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands".) I must admit I'm not a huge fan. AND, I too have never read "Blue Like Jazz"! I thought I was the only one.

Bekah said...

Yeah, I haven't read the Shack either. I think I'd probably have about the same reaction as you, Briana--it seems like something I'd have a hard time taking seriously. But then again, many people have told me it was an incredible book. We'll see if I ever get around to it. I did read Blue Like Jazz and really liked it. Not best-book-i-ever-read liked, but thought-provoking.
Since we're talking books--at the moment I'm reading "Building Moral Intelligence: the seven essential virtues that teach kids to do the right thing", by Michele Borba. It's not a Christian book, but I'm really liking it so far. It has a lot of really great practical ways to talk with kids to help them understand the concepts of different virtues such as empathy, self-control, conscience (aka, honesty), respect, kindness.

Missed you yesterday, Briana. Hope we get to see each other soon.

Cat said...

I gave up about half way through. I just didn't think he was a very good writer.

jenny said...

I read it and felt similarly to your views. Didn't totally bother me like some people claimed (HERITACAL!! AWFUL!!)... but also took me awhile to read it b/c it just didn't grasp my attention or move me. Bored me, rather.

The Fearnsides said...

I'm definitely not in the cool Christian-lit club. I learned my lesson after reading the Left Behind Series.

There are several books I've really enjoyed recently, though they're more historical/biographical. I have a tough time reading fiction. It's hard to find somtething well written and engaging, so I mainly stay away.

I'm an old person in a young person's body when it comes to books. LOL!

Monica

Kevin Heldt said...

I just finished the book so I will withhold most of my comments until you're done, but I WILL say that I have a lot more appreciation and respect for the book having now finished it than I did when I was where you are now! For now, I'll just generically add that the book does do some things well.

(And I love that you zeroed in on the same one-word summary I had for that first third of the book: contrived.)

Brianna Heldt said...

Monica HA! I am proud (?) to report that I never did read any of the "Left Behind" books, heehee! (I did see the first movie though.) I also rarely read fiction, unless I'm reading a story to my kids. I'm an old person on the inside too!!!

Kevin, I will take heart and keep pressing on then. :) Hoping to finish it this week!

Priscilla said...

Hey, I'm an young person in an old person's body and I love murder mystery romance fiction :)

Jeannett said...

Nope. Wouldn't dare. I tend to steer clear of what is considered the latest Christian trend. Seems like Amway to me. Like, there's the little exclusive club that things it's the best thing since sliced bread and then when you finally give in, and comment on how you are less than impressed...well, you might as well be blaspheming God's very name! No Left Behind series for me. No Fireproof.

I did however read Blue Like Jazz and really liked it. I think some of my appreciation came from not having been a Christian and so often his descriptions were right on so I liked it. Not best book ever, but definately something I would recommend.

I'm impressed you are planning on finishing. I'd likely have closed it long ago.

Doilies and Roses.

'nuff said.

Kevin Heldt said...

Sorry Jeannett, your credibility as a "maverick" went right out the window upon reading Blue Like Jazz. You can continue to throw stones, but you must remember that "the Amway glass house lies within"... ;)

I find that unless something is morally offensive or embitteringly false, I am open to giving it a whirl (though I probably put more things in those two categories than other people) -- often, worthwhile entertainment comes in alternate ways like in restocking the cupboard of cheesy lines that Brianna and I can quote for a good laugh.

And I LOVE fiction! Though I admit that a very small percentage of it is any good.

BeckyandTroy said...

I don't read. I'm waiting for the "The Shack" movie to come out....they could have Kirk Cameron play all of the parts including the "distinctively Asian woman" and the "big black woman"....
Troy

mayhem said...

I hadn't planned on reading it, but Greg Boyd wrote that he CANT STAND Christian fiction (me either) but he didn't hate The Shack and thought there was some value to it.

So I read it. I didn't realize there was some sort of controversy about the book, or I might have read it more critically. Like Joy, I just kind of skimmed parts and focused on the things that were most meaningful to me.

What bothered people about the theology? I'm trying to remember more detail but nothing is standing out in my mind as horribly offensive.

I like hearing about what you're reading, Brianna!

Have you read any Tim Kimmel books? I really appreciated "Grace Based Parenting" and "Raising Kids for True Greatness." If you're looking for new material...

Jeannett said...

Kev-
Never claimed to be a maverick, but that's cool you even considered the label for me! :)

Kevin Heldt said...

Heehee. Sorry, Jeannett, I just couldn't resist giving you a hard time on account of the "Jazz". ("Lisa! Get away from that Jazz-Man!" My apologies to all who didn't catch that obscure Simpons reference. Brianna, I trust you are chuckling, though.)

I know you weren't claiming to be a maverick; I just thought it would be funny to encapsulate the "steer clear of the latest trends" idea with that word given our political persuasion. (Perhaps I should have used "going rogue" instead...) And, let's face it, I wanted to use the phrase "Amway glass house" in a sentence. :)

J & A said...

Read it, liked it somewhat, didn't understand the huge controversy. Meh...

Charla Liedahl said...

I read it about a year and a half ago just to see what all the hype and gripe were about. I wasn't impressed, nor was I deeply disturbed. I found things that I felt were theologically off-base, but nothing that made me cry "Blasphemy!" It didn't change my life and I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who was searching for Christ, however I do know that God has used this book to draw people to Him. I just hope that the people who have claimed to have found Christ through this book get to know and fall in love with the real Jesus of the Bible.

Charla Liedahl said...

I just looked at Kevin's profile and had to add this: You have GOT to read the unabridged version of Les Miserables someday. That IS a book that will change your life. A truly amazing story by a genius storyteller.

Jenna Hoskinson said...

I read the Shack a while ago. I was thoroughly bored in the middle. The author isn't the best writer. I appreciate what he's trying to do. Not put God in a box, make Him relevant, etc. However, I DO think there was a huge blasphemous statement when Jesus said at one point "I am the best way to the Father". I'm sorry, but I believe he is the ONLY way to the Father.

Brianna Heldt said...

Oh I am loving reading all your comments! (Can you tell I've always wanted to be in a book club, but never have been? :) )

mayhem--I'm sure there are various sticking points, but for example, a lot of conservative Christians have taken issue with the fact that God is a woman. The book also says that God is neither male nor female, which I'm sure they take issue with too. I'm not done with the book so I haven't really seen anything else that could be controversial. But honestly, so far anyway, nothing's been a huge deal.

Jenna I haven't gotten to that part yet--interesting.

Troy, I laughed out loud. That is fantastic. Yes I DEFinitely think Kirk Cameron could play God. Okay I'm still laughing...

Kevin Heldt said...

Charla,

I had always heard that in his day, Hugo was paid by the word so there is a lot of "fluff" in the original 1200+ page monstrosity that doesn't even have to do with the story. My abridgment just brings it down to "normal" book length. But if your first-hand experience with the 1200+ pages was all positive, then maybe I'll give it a shot someday.

 

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