A few friends had mentioned this book and it was also brought up on a discussion board for the radio station I listen to. Now that I've read the book, I posted there and just copied and pasted (to save some writing time...gotta LOVE technology!). Here is my take on The Shack:
I did finally read this book. It is one of few I actually argued with myself and put more thought into before reading (The Left Behind series was one of the others). I borrowed it from the library and there was still a lengthy waiting period, so I assume people are still reading or waiting to read this book.
Thank you to the person who posted the review. (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001788.cfm) I read it prior and just read through it again. It does bring up some good points.
The reviews and who they are by, partially influenced me. A quote from Michael W. Smith is on the back. Eugene Peterson (translated/wrote The Message version of the Bible) compared it to Pilgrim's Progress. (sidenote: having just read a modern short version of Pilgrim's Progress, I would not compare the 2).
After I read the book, I also checked out the website. http://www.theshackbook.com/ It is stated clearly on the website and on the back of the book it is FICTION and it is stated to be a novel. I haven't even got to the forums (no time), but I'm sure they would be interesting.
There were some things (OK, a lot) that made me go Hmmmm and I would like to follow up on by checking in the Bible. I hope that is what others will do as well. The book dwelled on relationship more than "religion". It came across to me as VERY spiritual, almost new age, if I was more versed in what that was.
My one word of warning would be that somewhere I read it mentions it is great for new believers as well. I do not think I would go that far. My personal opinion would be read through the New Testament (at least) before attempting this book even as fiction.
Sometimes, I think we read to much into books. However, authors/writers have a responsibility to know that their words carry power, for good or evil. We, as readers, have a responsibility to seek out truth and apply it to our lives as we see fit.
One thing I have personally struggled with? How can I take time for ALL the fiction/self-help/fun reads and can't find more time to read the Bible? Hmmmm.