’The Shack’ a definite must-read/see

Posted 3/18/17

In recent months, I have watched some outstanding films.

Some of my favorites that I have seen this year include “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hidden Figures,” “Logan,” and “Fences.” All those …

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’The Shack’ a definite must-read/see


In recent months, I have watched some outstanding films.

Some of my favorites that I have seen this year include “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hidden Figures,” “Logan,” and “Fences.” All those films have hit a piece of my heart while watching them, but the one film that really struck a chord with me emotionally has been “The Shack.” It is based on the book of the same name, written by William Paul Young.

While I am biased toward the story, because I have such a personal connection to it, I think it is a good film, especially for one that gets a “Christian” label. Much like when the book became popular, the release of the film has brought out a fair amount of detractors, but I would urge anyone who feels the need to watch the movie to ignore those folks and check it out.

When I first read “The Shack,” I wrote a column about my thoughts on the book in the Daily Mountain Eagle. The words below were first written and published in the DME on May 27, 2009:

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love to read.

I don’t read much fiction, but I kept hearing things about a recent novel that piqued my curiosity.

I heard about this book that couldn’t get published. It was said that the book was too much about Jesus to get published by a secular company, and it was too edgy for a Christian publisher to touch it. It sounded right up my alley.

“The Shack” was written by William Paul Young. According to everything I’ve read about his writing the book, he had intended it to be a book detailing his thoughts on spirituality, written for his children to have in the years to come.

After finishing the book, the few friends that he let read it said it was so inspiring that he should try to publish it. As I wrote earlier, he had some serious issues getting it published and the book was eventually self-published with the help of a couple of friends.

There are currently more than three million copies of “The Shack” in print, and it has became somewhat of a phenomenon. Millions of people have been touched by the author’s story, and I would include myself in that group.

The book’s story follows Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips. He is a husband and father. One of his children is abducted and brutally murdered in a shack in the wilderness. A few years after the murder, Mack and his family are still dealing with the death of the child, and he receives a note in his mailbox. It is a note asking him to come back to the shack, and it is signed as being from Papa. Mack thinks it is either a cruel joke, the killer or a letter from God. He decides to go back to the shack and find out for himself.

Don’t worry, those details won’t ruin the story. That information is even on the back cover of the book.

The story of Mack losing his child is well written and it’s heartbreaking, but the real story of “The Shack” takes place once he returns to the shack to meet with God.

A lot of people struggle with the relational aspect of God. In most people’s eyes, He is probably this old guy with a big white robe and a long white beard. He’s usually portrayed as someone just keeping His eyes on us to see when we mess up and probably even throw a few kicks when we’re down. A lot of people view God as this celestial Santa Claus that keeps a naughty and nice list. The naughty people go to hell, and the nice people get a golden ticket to heaven.

I’ve never really felt that way about God. I guess it’s because I never really bought into a lot of what people try to sell you about God. I didn’t buy into the naughty and nice list way of looking at things. I’ve always seen God as someone to have a relationship with, and not someone who just treats me like pawn in a game of chess. He definitely has a side to Him that will judge at some point, but that’s honestly none of my concern. For now, He’s calling all of us to be His children. Thankfully, His blessing pours on the just and the unjust. That’s the God that Mack finds in the shack.

Without giving too much away, Mack finds all three aspects of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He spends time with them all, and that part of the book is wonderful. Anyone that’s tired of religion and needing a vehicle to see God in a different way should read the book. It’s not a substitute for finding God in the Bible (it’s a fictional story), but it could be a catalyst for some to see Him differently in His word.

I don’t know what else to say about “The Shack” without giving too much away. I’ve talked to a lot of friends (Christian and non-Christian) who have also read the book, and they have all found it to be very inspirational and thought provoking. After reading a few chapters, I told my wife, Andrea, that she should give it a read, and she actually finished it before I did.

We’ve even started giving the book as a gift, so if you’re a close friend or relative, now you know what you’ll be getting for your birthday this year.

James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.