Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Outhouse: Reflections on The Shack, Part Four: The Hell of Heaven

[The Shack by William Young is a major bestseller and worthy of comment. This is the fourth of five quick looks at The Shack from my perspective.]

The Shack ends with Mack having a vision in which he sees his murdered daughter and his abusive father in Heaven. Right away I’m thinking, “Run, Missy, run! Grandpa is a child abuser!” But it seems that grandpa has repented his ways, and Mack asks his dad for forgiveness even as he forgives him himself.

This is troubling: was the abuse Mack’s father heaped on little Mack somehow Mack’s fault? Isn’t that what his dad told him after every abusive episode? Isn’t that what all abusers say, “You made me do it”? Maybe Mack is more troubled than we think. God suffers from Munchausen’s disorder and Mack suffers from Stockholm syndrome—The Shack is one sick hut.

What brings Mack some solace is his discovery that everything turns out all right in Heaven. He sees his daughter Missy playing happily in the fields of Heaven far beyond the garden of good and evil in which her rape and murder took place. This world is just a shack, God’s Mansion awaits. So don’t become overly concerned with justice in this world—certainly God doesn’t seem to care—and take heart that heaven is the reward for all those who repent.

This comforted Mack—his little girl spending eternity as a little girl. He isn’t bothered by the fact that she will never learn anything, never graduate high school or college, never meet someone and fall in love, never have children of her own. Well, I’m bothered by it!

First Missy is robbed of her life, and then God freezes her in perpetual childhood. Is that what Heaven is—forever frozen in the body you had when you died? Does that mean the crippled are eternally crippled? Does that mean SIDS victims spend eternity on their tummies in a cradle? Or is Mack’s vision of Missy and his dad just his own private reverie and heaven is a fiction? The Shack cannot accept the latter, but its view of Heaven seems hellish to me.

This is the problem with all attempts to make people feel better by feeding them mindless drivel. I can understand how Mack can be comforted for a moment to think that his daughter is still enjoying being eight, but how is he not raging at God for making eight last for eternity?

I have no problem with people who want life to be just and hopeful and, in the end, to spend eternity with God in some blissful paradise. What I find so troubling and even offensive is when they settle for so little. And Mack has settled big time. I think Mack is just afraid to vent his rage at God and so he takes refuge in nonsense. I don’t want a god who suffers along with the victims, I want a god who suffers because he/she causes suffering. I want god to repent. But god will never repent as long as Mack refuses to demand justice for Missy.


Patti said...

Most Christians I know think that in heaven we will be perfected like any ailment we have will be healed. So while in world someone might not be able to walk, in the next they will. HEY! I am not saying this makes sense...I am just saying...

I have been thinking about this for the last few days and still can't see how getting mad at God will change how we all live and what we experience. AND I am sad to admit that I am afraid to allow myself to truly entertain the notion. I guess the "No Anger Allowed" sign is still firmly nailed to my tree house.

Andrea Perez said...

I have been following your blog now for several weeks and must say I wish you were a congregational Rabbi down here in South Florida again! Your insights are so no holes barred, stop the bull crap and let's get real. I agree, how does this kind of logic help anyone come to terms with God or themselves. If Heaven is what you get after you let the world and "God" crap on you..who would want to go there anyway? It just doesn't seem like justice.

AaronHerschel said...

I am what I am. And what I am is a bestseller. And what sells best is pablum. So i fudged some things to make a few silly humans feel better and sell some books. You want the truth? Fine. Here's the real deal. I killed Missy because if she'd taken one more breath she would have caused a typhoon in Japan, and if she'd taken one more step she would have crushed the mutated cockroach that is the key progenator of the next dominant land animal on earth. Her rapist, meanwhile, needs to survive until I can maneuver him onto a small wooden dock with a broken board in the Florida Keys where he will trip, cut his leg, and catch an obscure fish disease hitherto unknown amongst humans which, after a mishap involving an experimental radiation treatment, will cause him to grow gills, making him the first mer-human. BIzarrely, miraculously, the trait will prove transferable to anyone injected with a serum distilled from his blood, and it is only this serum which will enable your ungrateful species to survive the coming melting of the ice caps. So, as I almost but never quite got around to telling Job, take your paltry shortsighted morality and shove it. I've got a universe to run.

Patti said... rock!