Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Healing Dreams

Disclaimer: Please have mercy and forgive me if I make an error on something for I have neither educational background nor the knowledge to enlighten you about some of the main themes of this book. I know there is much controversy surrounding this book. If I say something in error, remember that I am no expert and for this reason there are some parts in the book that are important that I will not touch on. Thank you.

We had a nice turnout at our meeting this past Saturday and I think everyone had great discussion. We thank Beacon of Life Ministries for allowing us to use their facility. I have posted a needs list on the right hand side of our blog. This list is from Beacon of Life and it has ways we can support them in addition to the love offering we have at our meetings.

Today we will wrap up our discussion on The Shack as we move on to our May selection. We left off on Chapter 17 where Mack is carrying Missy’s body back to the shack. Again I can’t imagine the emotions he is feeling holding his little girl and burying her. Mack has a discussion with the other characters and they give him the choice of staying with them or going back to his life with Nan and his other children. Mack chooses to go back to his life which I think would have been my decision too. He leaves the shack and is in a terrible car accident. In chapter 18 we learn that the terrible car accident happened on Friday night, not Sunday. Now after he has that discussion and we find out about the accident, I think that this is like those moments you hear about people having when they are on the verge of death. Where they have an experience and they go to heaven for a few minutes but end up coming back. Finding out that it all could have been a dream, does that matter to you? Would it make the story or the emotions any less real? I don’t think so. To me there is healing in this story that many people can benefit from that it doesn’t matter if it was a dream or not. I am especially happy to see Mack be able to help in the healing of Kate. In the end this experience more than just Mack were healed. Papa gave him wisdom and guidance to use to help heal his family as well. At the end of our meeting, we all felt that Tresa summed it up the best, I even made her repeat it twice, "He had a broken body but he received a healed mind through grace." (And if that still isn't exactly right someone correct me!)

I liked this book and thought it was a good read. We had varying opinions at our meeting but for the most part many people enjoyed it and spoke of the healing that the book can provide. This was my second time reading it and I really enjoyed it the first time. The second time around I have been dissecting it more so I haven’t enjoyed it as much as the first time. I still enjoy many of the themes I wrote about on here and will definitely read it again one day. There are comforting words in some of its pages that help with the death of a family member. I do not agree with all the cries of heresy. I understand some of the arguments but I believe it is important to remember its just fiction, its entertainment and most importantly not the word of God nor claiming to be. Pastor Keith brought a review to our attention from one of the editors of the book and I wanted to share it with you. You can click here to go to the link where the editor discusses, “Is the Shack Heresy?” Hopefully you might find some answers to some questions you have that we did not discuss on here.

And there were so many discussion questions to choose from online about this book that I had to narrow it down. I decided that I will start posting the questions we have at the meeting to start discussions on here too! I hope you enjoyed reading the book. Feel free to respond by commenting to any of the questions listed below so that we have your thoughts as well. Happy Reading!

- Were you drawn in by the plot of The Shack? Many readers find the first 4 chapters of The Shack almost too painful to read. Could they have been written in a way that would be less painful—without changing the book's message?

-Why do you think Mack's encounter with God took place at the shack? If God were to invite you somewhere, where would it be? (In other words, where is the center of your doubt and pain)?

-Do you think suffering makes people closer to God or causes them to distance themselves from Him? What has been the pattern in your life?

-Were you satisfied with God's answers to Mack about suffering? Do you struggle with believing God is good in light of all the tragedy in the world?

-The Great Sadness goes from being something that is the grief of Mack, to the thing that defines him. How did this happen? How does this happen in people that you know?In what ways does the Great Sadness in Mack hurt him in his relationships with other people? In what ways does Mack blame himself for what happened to Missy? How does this define him?

-Throughout the story we see that Mack, although he can hardly speak it, blames God for taking his daughter away. When do we blame God? Why? How do we reconcile with God after this?What were your thoughts about Mack's reconciliation with his father? In what ways do our relationships with our parents define us? Color our relationship with God? With others?

-Why is Mack's forgiveness of the killer important? To Papa? To Mack? For the killer?

-How does Mack's forgiveness of himself, God, and others get him to the point where he can be a better husband, father, and friend? Do you think this is true of all of us?

-What does The Shack say about forgiveness—toward the self or toward those who have wronged you.

-How did the author's description of God differ from your understanding of God? What parts of the descriptions of God did you resonate with? What parts did you have a hard time with? Why?Did you have a hard time with the way the author presented God's gender? Why or why not?

-If you think about your soul as a garden, what do you imagine it being like? Is it neat and all in order? Is it a mess? Do you want it in order? Do you want it to be a mess or in order? Does it need weeding? Why do you think Missy was buried in the garden?

-What do you think about how Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu relate to one another?

-How did reading this book affect your faith? Does it change, challenge, strengthen your image of God? Why is God portrayed as a woman, what reasons does God give Mack?

-Does God answer convincingly the reason for the trinity?

-Does the idea of God as character in the book, or God's first-person voice, bother you...or does it work within the context of The Shack's story?

-Why did God let Missy die? Do you think The Shack answers convincingly the central question of theology, the existence of evil—or why, if there is a God, bad things happen to good people?
Did The Shack change any of your opinions about God or Christianity? What were some of the things The Shack teaches about God, faith and life that you disagreed with?

-Has the author succeed in presenting faith in a way that feels relevant and relatable? Are there specific characters whose beliefs resonate with yours? Is there anything in this book to which you personally can relate? Is there any advice or ideas you can take and apply to your own life?

-What part of the book spoke to you the most, and why? Are there any brief quotes in the book that you like?

-What part of the book confused you the most or created the most questions? Why did you have a hard time with that part of the book?

-Does the book's ultimate message satisfy you? Is it possible to let go of control and certainty in life? Is it possible to live only in the present?

-What do you think will be your lasting impression of the book? Would you recommend it to a friend?

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