If youre a parent or even if youre not the idea of having a child abducted is too horrible to contemplate. Who can forget the McCanns and the very public grief displayed over the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine? The couple used every means available to get news of Madeleine were clearly torn apart by what happened ready to renounce their old certainties. This real life drama touches on the story behind The shack, an intriguing bestseller by William P Young, in which the tragedy of a childs abduction and brutal murder leads hero Mack Philips to meet his Maker and reconcile himself to what has happened.
At one level The shack is a simple arguably rather nave fairy story. Mack takes his three children hiking and the youngest, Missy, is abducted, the telling find being the discovery of her blood-stained clothing in a deserted shack. Mack goes off the rails and questions his faith, eventually to receive a letter from Papa, the nickname his wife Nan has given to God. The letter is an invitation to the shack and after much soul searching Mack makes the journey and spends an emotional weekend with "Papa" a larger than life black woman Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Mack is reminded about the power of love and is eventually able to forgive Missys killer.
The story is redeemed for this reader at least by the twist in its tale. The evangelical arguments about what we believe and why we believe are strengthened by a reasonable plot, the eventual conclusion and the very human predicament in which Mack finds himself.
For those of us who profess to have a faith there is no happy ending in God is not great by the US-based journalist and academic Christopher Hitchens. This is a clever but selective atheists account of why religion is responsible for so many wars and so much suffering. From Thomas Aquinas to Saddam Hussein, Hitchens puts religion in the firing line but misses one important fact: faith, for most true believers, is personal, not political. Politics throughout the ages has been adept at hijacking religion for its own purposes not the other way round. Agree or disagree with him, Hitchens is both readable and entertaining. This is a book that makes you think, and thats no bad thing.
The Shack by William P Young (Hodder & Stoughton, 2008, 7.99)
God is not great by Christopher Hitchens (Atlantic Books, 2008, 8.99)
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