Re-encounter God through the Shack
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February 13, 2017
A note from Dean Dominic Barrington about "The Shack"
The topic of Dean's Forums in March & April
In 2007, much of the English-speaking Christian world was gripped by an extraordinary novel by a hitherto unknown figure by the name of Wm. Paul Young, entitled The Shack. Essentially, the book depicts an encounter between a grieving father and God. The book was something of a sensation when it came out, and topped the best-seller charts on both sides of the Atlantic, although it was probably more popular in evangelical circles than in the Episcopal Church.
I read the book because a good friend was very very insistent that I should, and I was not, initially, that enthusiastic. The literary style did not particularly agree with me, and the first portion of the book (in which the young daughter of the father dies) seemed maudlin and depressing. But from the moment that I turned the page to read of the father's first encounter in person with God (who has invited him to come for a conversation in The Shack in which the girl died), I was bowled over with surprise, excitement and joy. The depiction of God the Holy Trinity is vibrant, remarkably orthodox.... and profoundly moving. I will freely admit that there are several passages in the book which leave me in tears every time I read them.
And now, ten years on, The Shack will appear in theaters as a movie on March 3rd. I would dearly like to take this opportunity to encourage members of the St James family to see the movie and/or to read (or re-read) the book. If you are confident in being able to stand up and explain to your friends what it means to speak of God as Trinity, perhaps you won't need to do this... but if you want to be reminded of the ground of our baptismal faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, please take advantage of this opportunity to re-encounter God this Spring. We will look at different aspects of The Shack in two or three Dean's Forums during the Spring and early Summer, and if there is interest, we will have one or more reading groups about it.
A 20th Century Russian theologian once remarked Between the Trinity and Hell there lies no other choice. I believe this to be profoundly true - and The Shack will help you rediscover why!