11.11.2010

The Shack: A Case for Story

Truth be told, I've never read The Shack.

I know two things about the book though:
  1. It's a narrative (story)
  2. It's about God
And really that's all I need to know to write this.  So don't get all upset, this applies to any work that satisfy those two criteria - and even works that don't, in my opinion.

I mention the Shack because it's been the talk of the town, both about how good the book is and about how much heresy is in it.  I've only read reviews and comments about the book, not the actual book, so I won't make a judgement call, but there is one thing that strikes me as peculiar in the way people defend it:

A lot of people who defend the book use an argument I find questionable, "It's just a story."

(Before I begin, I have to say that my first impression of this argument is that there is something wrong, but the reader just doesn't care.)

I can only assume that by this line of argument the defender is saying something like, "Stories are incapable of talking about God" or maybe something more general and insidious, "Stories are 'harmless'."  Neither are true, and I have qualms about the fact that Christians would regard narrative in this light.  If the Shack is as bad as some have stated the Christian response against it should be, "It is a story!!"

It's caused me to wonder over the last while how we view our Bible.  We wouldn't say of our Bible that "It's just a story", yet  nearly the entire document is made up of stories!  From the Old Testament right down to the parables Jesus told to communicate the Kingdom of God.  If stories are 'just stories' and incapable of communicating anything about the character of God or if stories are 'harmless' (if you believe the latter you must believe the former!) then why read the Bible at all?

But if they can talk meaningfully about God and are 'dangerous', then how we read stories has to change.