Customer Review

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter Bilge, 7 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Shack (Kindle Edition)
I was recommended this book by a Christian friend and colleague (I am an atheist) after one of those late night sessions when we were putting the world to rights. For very many scientific and evidential reasons I am sceptical about any sort of God, least of all a personal and interventionist God, and particularly when philosophically, if He/She/It did exist allowing good and saintly people to die in agony of dreadful agony of disease does not say much for His value system. I don't bring in war and torture since Catholics at least have an alibi for God in the form of "Free Will."

My friend thought that this book would very much answer all these questions, and I am more than open-minded about this and would be delighted to be persuaded, but not at the expense of my critical faculties and I am afraid this just doesn't do it.

Firstly there is a cultural difficulty for British readers. It is written in the very simple, folksy, schmaltzy style which seems to be more widely appreciated in the US but just appears dumb or naiive over here. The writing style is very poor indeed, tedious, unsophisticated and generally predictable plot line. Some people rave about it's imagery but overall I would expect my thirteen year old to produce more polished and credible prose than this. The foreward was so bad I almost didn't read any further, but as I had promised I persevered, and in fairness it did get a bit better - but not much.

The first half of the book has a feel like a blend of "The Waltons" and a second rate US cop show, with very ropy dialogue and character studies. The second half having met God and the central character discovering himself and his own and mankind's relationship to God, although it has one or two interesting thoughts, it is more generally reminiscent of "The Wizard of Oz" before subsiding back into Walton's mode at the end. The author endeavours to introduce scientific concepts to underpin the revelations of God that occur, but his scientific understanding is facile and superficial and not in any way convincing to any one with a scientific background.

All in all this is a very poor book and not a good route to discover religion - you'd do better with the apostle Paul or Augustine of Hippo. I guess if you are already a Christian and particularly of an evangelical bent you may very well enjoy it and find it affirming and gives you a warm inner glow. but there you go, each to his own
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Jul 2013 15:53:04 BDT
Greg Stelley says:
D. Harley: 'The Shack' is the rare religious book that manages to infuriate open-minded atheists like yourself AND many believers. I get quite queasy when a writer of any ability gives him or herself poetic license to put words in the mouths of the Trinity. You obviously had an intensely negative emotional reaction to the fictional, but inspirational (for many) rabbit hole known as The Shack, and I fully understand your reaction to it; however, I have a new TRUE story for you to attempt to explain away. It will surely confound your disbelief! Would a modern-day, biblical-sized miracle interest you? One full of the tangible, physical evidence everyone seems to crave to verify the impossible? My supernatural encounter with God took place almost ten years ago during the last week of October 2003. That was the week that San Diego County burned down through the middle (427 square miles of it) during a terrible firestorm (the Cedar Fire if you want to Google it).
I'm sure that you, like me, have had moments in life that you recognized as a brush with the unexplainable. For me, it is usually an instantaneous answer to a small and specific prayer. I've had many miracles of that size in my life. The smallest of them required opening my spiritual eyes to see and understand the miracle, but what about a biblical-sized miracle? Are those possible nowadays? Were they EVER possible? Wouldn't it be great if there was a 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace type of miraculous event we could read about that happened in contemporary times? Say, during a terrible wildfire? What if God showed up and did what we all agree was simply the impossible? And what if there were actual photographs to document the miracles? That type of titanic physical miracle would be obvious even to our PHYSICAL eyes, right? Wouldn't that be a great story to read? I have the novel-length true story that does exactly that... "GOD INSIDE THE FIRE: An Amazing True Story." It's a supernatural thriller told from the LIGHT side, not the dark side of the spiritual realm. Not a day goes by (not an hour actually) without me reflecting on what my family was witness to during and after a terrible firestorm here in San Diego in October 2003. It's a story packed full of drama, suspense, life, death, belief, disbelief, and then there's the colossal manifestation of God's presence and the miracles left in His wake... People around the world are being blessed by this impossible narrative in the same way it will bless you, should you decide to read it. Give it a look on Amazon, will you? GOD INSIDE THE FIRE: An Amazing True Story
- All the best, Greg Stelley.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2013 18:56:30 BDT
D. Harley says:
Thanks Greg

Delighted to hear of your fortunate escape from immolation. I suspect there is a fairly mundane explanation. The trouble is for all those "saved" by God, many others perish including saintly true believers, which if I was a believer would seem more than a bit capricious. Read what Epicurus has to say. Hard to argue with really.

The 2 most Christian folks I know suffered greatly one dying from breast cancer, the other losing their teen daughter to a brain tumour after watching a lovely girl go blind and progressively withdrawn over 5 years. Astonishingly it didn't rock their faith, but perhaps faith is about not asking to many questions for fear of the answer.

It would be lovely to have easy answers, but I think that in the end that is a cop out from the majesty of the universe and the wonders of evolution.

Thanks again for you comments. As the late great Irish comedian Dave Allen would say: "May your God go with you."


In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2013 22:25:18 BDT
A graceful response by 'D' to an obviously well-intended piece by Greg, who rather gives the theological game away by calling 'D' an 'infuriated atheist' when plainly he is not infuriated though self confessedly an atheist.
Speaking for myself, I find Dostoevsky quite the best novelist on religion and 'Karamazov' his masterpiece.

Posted on 17 Feb 2014 11:29:32 GMT
L. Klein says:
Thank you for your review, which I found to be apposite. I am not a quitter when it comes to books. If I decide it's worth starting, then I always mean to finish. The Shack beat me, plain and simple. It held not one iota of interest for me and I cared not a jot about the central character (leaving aside the Trinity), whose name now escapes me, some six weeks after my failed attempt. I am a Christian and "of an evangelical bent" inasmuch as we should all be out there, spreading the Word, but this did not help me to enjoy it or to have even the slightest desire to pursue it to the end. I found it to be poorly written and your words "folksy" and "schmaltzy" are spot on, so I'm not going to try to improve on them. I think the author thought he was being terribly clever, making God female and black (was she black? Or have I made that up? You see, my memory has done its very best at expunging this most ghastly memory...), and the Holy Spirit also female. I bet he thought this was ground-breakingly original and ingenious. I just found it tedious, and both female characters, and Jesus, mind-numbingly dull, with nothing original or meaningful to say. I simply cannot understand how it has managed to achieve so many good reviews. They must be from the Barbara Cartland or Barbara Taylor Bradford genre lovers, I'm guessing, and not from anyone with an enquiring mind or a desire for a challenging theological read.
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