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Re-reading The Shack has me thinking about relationships - not too broad a topic for a two-page blog entry, right? Specifically, I am ruminating on (as in “chewing and digesting again”) the centrality of relationships in God’s plan for us. Like concentric circles, we live in relationship with ourselves, with God, with intimate others, with family (of origin and/or choice), friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and with the world as we conceptualize it and our place in it.
Because of the way that Young presents God to us - as Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu - we get an easily accessible “visual” of God as a relational Being; God in relationship with Godself; God in relationship within Godself. That visual reminds me that our primal human need for relationship is one of the primary ways in which we are created in God’s image. We are multi-dimensional beings, capable of being at war or at peace with ourselves. We are capable of living lives that are so rigidly compartmentalized that we are almost acting as different people in the various different contexts of our lives. We are equally capable of harmoniously integrating all aspects of who we are into a complete and healthy whole person who lives and relates to others with both internal and external integrity.
“Honey, there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away ... I have no magic wand to wave over you and make it all better. Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.”
- “Papa,” speaking to Mack in The Shack
We’re reading and discussing The Shack, by William Young, in our Wednesday evening Bible and book study. It’s one of those “love it or hate it” books, and I proudly stand in the “I love it!” camp. Young touches on many of the most compelling theological themes in ways that challenge the reader to think outside of whatever religious dogmatic boxes we’ve settled into. In my opinion, that’s probably what fundamentalist/evangelical types find most offensive about it.
For those who don’t know the story, the main character of The Shack is a man named Mack who suffers one of life’s most heartbreaking tragedies - the murder of his young daughter. Missy’s death was confirmed by evidence found in a run-down shack near the place where she was abducted. The grief which becomes a constant, pervasive presence in Mack’s life as a result is referred to as The Great Sadness.