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Published Date: June 4, 2009

Published Date: June 4, 2009

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Cover of "Created to Thrive".

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Revisiting “The Shack”

I know it is some time since this book, written by William P. Young and published in 2007, was in the public gaze of the Christian community but I have only just read it. I find myself in agreement with the comment by Eugene Peterson, “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”

What I would like to do is just put a portion of it up as a post and let people comment. This section takes in a conversation between God, addressed here as Papa, and Mackenzie, the principal character in the book. Excerpts, beginning at page 121.

“I love how you treat each other. It’s certainly not how I expected God to be.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, I know that you are one and all, and that there are three of you. But you respond with such graciousness to each other. Isn’t one of you more the boss than the other two?”

The three looked at one another as if they had never thought of such a question.

“I mean,” Mack hurried on, “I’ve always thought of God the Father as sort of being the boss and Jesus as the one following orders, you know, being obedient. I’m not sure how the Holy Spirit fits in exactly. He … I mean, she … uh” Mack tried not to look at Sarayu as he stumbled for words. “… Whatever – the Spirit always seemed a kind of a … uh …”

“A free Spirit?” offered Papa.

“Exactly-a free Spirit, but still under the direction of the Father. Does that make sense?”

Jesus looked over at Papa, obviously trying with some difficulty to maintain the perception of a very serious exterior. “Does that make sense to you Abba? Frankly, I haven’t a clue what this man is talking about.”

Papa scrunched her face up as if exerting great concentration.”Nope, I have been trying to make head or tail out of it, but sorry, he’s got me lost.”

“You know what I’m talking about.” Mack was a little frustrated. “I’m talking about who’s in charge. Don’t you have a chain of command?”

“Chain of command? That sounds ghastly!” Jesus said. 

“At least binding,” Papa added as they both started laughing, and then Papa turned to Mack and sang,”Though chains be of gold, they are chains all the same.”

“Now don’t concern yourself with those two,” Sarayu interrupted, reaching out to comfort and calm him. “They’re just playing with you. This is actually a subject of interest among us.”

Mack nodded, relieved and a little chagrined that he had again allowed himself to lose his composure.

“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it. What you are seeing here is a relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us. Actually, this is your problem, not ours.”

“Really? How so?”

“Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could work together without someone being in charge.”

“But every human institution that I can think of, from political to business, even down to marriage, is governed by this kind of thinking; it is the web of our social fabric,” Mack asserted.

“Such a waste!” said Papa, picking up the empty dish and heading for the kitchen.

“It’s one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you,” Jesus added. “Once you have a hierarchy  you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you.”

End of quote, but the conversation continuing to the end of this chapter entitled, ‘A Breakfast of Champions’, is so refreshing. Granted that it is fictional and the substance of a supposed ‘out of body’ experience, but could this also be true to life and even possibly Biblical? I’d certainly like to believe so.