Having camped out on the New York Times bestseller list for about a year, The Shack was ripe for that tasty stew of analysis and breezy humor that is English criticism. And the online magazine Ship of Fools delivers it.
Theologian Andrew Walker of King's College, London, has read The Shack and found it both uplifting and irritating. Uplifting, because it "has brought Christian ideas out of the ghetto and into the heart of the secular marketplace." Irritating, because of its sugary sentimentality, which "rots the teeth of their creative bite and can be malevolent if not malignant."
The chuckling in The Shack is what really gets to Walker. All three persons of the Holy Trinity do it. Mackenzie, the main character, does it. Walker is tempted even to call the Jesus character a "chucklehead," and not in a nice way.
Walker writes off this excess to the lack of writing skill by the author, William P. Young. Also to Young's evident lack of interest in theology, which might have kept his attention on the tremendous sacrifices, in life and death, that Jesus made for humankind.
But Walker's own writing skill isn't spotless. Not when he mentions an issue "that has snowballed in my mind to become a river I cannot cross" -- then segues into a discussion of the cross of Christ. English stew should not contain mixed metaphors.