Saturday, June 21, 2008

book review--the shack--the questionable

In this take on the book, I want to deal with some things that are, to my mind at least, a bit iffy.

...Papa is as much submitted to me as I to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her.
Submission is not about authority and it not obedience; it is all about
relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same
p. 145

One thing Young goes on about is some kind of anti-authority, anti-heirarchy notion of love and relationship. One can see it some in the above quote, and in a few other places in the book.

Once you have a heirarchy 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 rather then promotes
p. 122-123

I find such a statement rather...strange. Does the Bible ever give the hint that there should be no rules among us, no laws, no heirarchy or leaders?

Did Jesus not lead his disciples? Did the Apostles not lead the early church? Did Paul not tell husbands that they are the head of their family? Did he not tell wives to submit to the husband, and children to honor their father and mother?

Does the NT say nothing about church governance? About the roles of pastors and bishops and elders?

Does the NT not tell us to obey those over us and to submit to them? Does it not say to even obey the civil authorities, except insofar as it would mean being in disobedience to God?

And if one looked to the OT, one could find God establishing modes of government, the priesthood, family, laws and rules, moral codes, kingdoms.

And as a final bit of surreality, to say that God submits Himself to us seems an almost unbelievably arrogant statement. We're dealing with God, which means right off that there is a heirarchy--God is infinitely above us.

I don't create institution--never have, never will.

What about the institution of marriage?

Marriage is not an institution. It's a relationship
p. 179

This is one of those cases when a definition of what is meant by 'institution' as it is used each time would be helpful. I get the impression that the meaning is being changed a bit, maybe not intentionally, but still changed. Much like how evolutionists can use the word 'evolution' in different ways. Such is a danger with a word that has similar but still very different meanings.

And now, as per usual, a bit of Chesterton, to give another take on the matter...

The principle is this: that in everything worth having, even in every
pleasure, there is a point of pain or tedium that must be survived, so that the
pleasure may revive and endure. The joy of battle comes after the first fear of
death; the joy of reading Virgil comes after the bore of learning him; the glow
of the sea-bather comes after the icy shock of the sea bath; and the success of
the marriage comes after the failure of the honeymoon. All human vows, laws, and
contracts are so many ways of surviving with success this breaking point, this
instant of potential surrender.

In everything on this earth that is worth doing, there is a stage when no
one would do it, except for necessity or honor. It is then that the Institution
upholds a man and helps him on to the firmer ground ahead. Whether this solid
fact of human nature is sufficient to justify the sublime dedication of
Christian marriage is quite an other matter, it is amply sufficient to justify
the general human feeling of marriage as a fixed thing, dissolution of which is
a fault or, at least, an ignominy. The essential element is not so much duration
as security. Two people must be tied together in order to do themselves justice;
for twenty minutes at a dance, or for twenty years in a marriage In both cases
the point is, that if a man is bored in the first five minutes he must go on and
force himself to be happy. Coercion is a kind of encouragement; and anarchy (or
some call liberty) is essentially oppressive, because it is essentially
discouraging. If we all floated in the air like bubbles, free to drift anywhere
at any instant, the practical result would be that no one would have the courage
to begin a conversation.
From "What's Wrong with the World"

The truth of the matter is, marriage is an institution, and it is a good thing that it is. What it may have been in a perfect world, we cannot really say, except insofar as we may determine from Adam and Eve, and that is scarce little. Perhaps with them, it would have been different. Perhaps Adam could have looked upon another woman, naked as Eve, and not have felt the sexual urge he would have felt when looking upon his wife. Perhaps if even the thought of intercourse with another woman would have crossed his mind, it would have horrified him to a degree that we cannot comprehend.

Yet we are weak, shallow, sinful creatures. Young speaks against chains, metaphorically speaking, at one point in the book, but the reality is, love is a chain. If I, being a man, love a woman to the point of marrying her, I am chaining or binding myself to her, and freeing myself from considering or being considered by any other woman.

And such a binding is necessary, for the thrill of the honeymoon would run out, and the dullness of common drudgery would no doubt seep in. She who was the darling of my eye may become simply another face around me.The practicalities of life together would grind at us, wear us down. The romantic edge would wear off.

When such may happen, then the institute of marriage must come in, as Chesterton says, to keep us together, to help us get through the difficult to the joys beyond, to a deeper love for each other.

My words are alive and dynamic--full of life and possibility; yours are dead,
full of law and fear and judgment. That is why you won't find the word
responsibility in the Scriptures.
p. 205

I did look in a concordance, not a full one I think, and while yes I didn't find the word 'responsibility' in it, I did see a few instances of the word 'duty', and some of the word 'account', as in giving account of ourselves to God.

There is one other thing in the story that kind of rubbed me wrong.

The basic premise of the story is this--our hero Mac gets a letter from God inviting him to meet Him at the shack at a certain time. Mac makes the trip, which leads to the events of the rest of the book.

As the conversations progress, reference is made to Mac's wife, the mother of the missing child (Mac is the father), in ways that seemed to hint that something was wrong. Towards the end, we learn that her being there was expected, or something, too, and that Mac should have brought her with him, or at least have tried to do so.

What bugs me about this is, the letter he received was addressed specifically to him, asking him to come. There was no mention made of anyone else, and given the nature of the message and the possible dangers, not to mention the idea of God sending a letter, he judged it best to not tell her of the invitation and his trip.

Upon what basis was Mac to assume that the invitation, addressed to him alone, was also meant for his wife? Assuming we are not dealing with a general invitation to come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation, why should Mac have thought that God didn't want just him to come, when only he is asked?

These are a few of the things that raised the eyebrows. They may not be things I'm willing to get too intensely into, but they are there, and I think they need to be questioned, and answered.

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