Saturday, November 21, 2009


Being a patient transporter, I often interpose conversations in elevators. For example, I hop from the lobby's main elevators to 4 south, walk to the North wing, grab a stretcher, take the West wing elevators to C level and exit to the ED. It's a fun job. I love running around - suits my personality. Today I walked into an elevator and heard this: "crows feet. Then you would just imbricate the lesser curve..." It was one doctor talking to another. I'm thinking silently, "Wow, I need to throw around words like that in my elevator conversations." Co-workers and I later discuss the possibilty of saying stuff like, "Hey, did you imbricate that patient in 26?"

Later, I'm on 6 and see a nurse on the phone in the hall. As I pass her, she says in a loud and annoyed voice, "I shouldn't have to press 1! I'm in America."

I'm also in my second year of Greek studies in college, and I happened to run across a few words that impressed me. They're like Greek words on steroids. Multisyllabic words like the future passive indicative verb, σκανδαλισθησεσθε ("I am shocked") and future passive indicative verb, διασκορπισθησονται ("I scatter") from Mark 14:28. And let's not forget the aorist middle infinitive from Ephesians 1:10, ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι ("to recapitulate"). Σκανδαλισθησεσθε comes from the verb σκανδαλιζω (skandalidzo), which is how we got our English word, "scandalous." Hey, I'm impressed.

What?! You mean the president of the pathological liars club wasn't completely honest with you?!? I am shocked!

Agh! The "big turkey" approaches.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On Art, Images, Stories and Literature

"Symbols, metaphors, allegories, and images move the whole person - the emotions and senses as well as the intellect. The rich, evocative words of literature are far more powerful than factual description." - Charles Colson, How Now Shall We Live, 440

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Freshman. Ha.

A freshman confided in me and I have the guts to post it on the world wide web.

He confesses, "I learned college wasn't all about fun and games. I thought college was a glorified vacation."

I chuckled politely while dying with laughter on the inside.


postscript: "Can't wait" til thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Make Mine Pointy

Megan: "Are you one of the guys to get a beard for the christmas program?" She queried me.
Sam: "Yes, why?" He laughed.
Megan: "Because I so want to make yours!" She replied.
Sam: "Insist that you make mine! And give me a short little point on my chin!" He inserted excitedly.
Megan: "We will see...That seems a little more king-ish. Are you a king?" She inquired, pondering.
Sam: "Bah, I'm a zealot." He said resentfully, as a true zealot would.
Megan: "Anyways, I'm gonna make yours."
(Blah, blah, blah, insert boring part here about the number of guys who need beards for the play.)
Megan: "Anyways, I'll do yours and probably Lucas' and Michael's." She replied emphatically. "Thanks! Talk to you later." She promptly said her exit line.
Sam: "Heyheyhey. No problem." He said casually. "Talk to you later. And do a good job on mine!" He said in an excited, encouraging, and demanding sort of voice.
Megan: "I most certainly will!" She saluted.
Sam: "That's all corporal."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

My brother Jonathan, went to Starbucks tonight on the graciousness of Adam Profitt's D-group. However, someone said that he was working tonight. He's not.

Furthermore, Jonathan went to Starbucks tonight on the graciousness of Adam Profitt's D-group. However, someone said that he was going on a date tonight. He didn't.

So whoever you are...

Stop saying these things.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Eyes Feel Weird

Ah, yes, college - where we laugh at teachers who try to cover topics in the last 3 minutes of class, experience "analytic shock" from writing papers, and stay up til 1 in the morning working on test reviews.

-Sam McConkey

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Critical Review

The Shack
William Paul Young


The Shack is quite frankly a narrative theology. The book is basically Young's theology with a story intertwined to state and explain his theology. What bothers me is that the narrative seems very forced. In fact, at one point the author inserts a choppy statement about God washing the dishes in between his dialogue with the main character. The first chapter uses very high diction that is very eloquent and surreal at times. Then the next several chapters recount the story of his daughter and how she was murdered, and move along very rapidly only to slow to a grueling pace that involves a teaching session with God at the shack. The book ends predictably with a dreamlike "happily ever after" ending. Furthermore, the ending brings questions to the readers mind that are never addressed when the book ends in a quaint way. Overall, the novel does not have a good flow and is poorly written.

Young admits that the book wasn't written for us. The Shack wasn't even meant to be published. However, the book has been published and so he should be willing to accept any criticism of the book and not dismiss it as irrelevant because it wasn't written to us. Also, the book is very much unlike Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, contrary to the comparison that Eugene Peterson makes. I have to take issue with several statements that Young makes. Below is enumerated the specific content which I disagree with or question.

The Bible

First of all, Young states that we have shoved God not into a box, but into a book. "Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?" (p. 68) While I understand Young's point that we can't reduce God to systematic theology lectures given by intelligentsia, I don't think that He depicts the written word of God fairly. As God's Word or message to us, shouldn't we treasure the Bible, and see it as the primary way the High King of Heaven speaks to us?

God and Violence

Young implies that God hates violence or has a strong distaste for it. "She disappeared into the cabin...still carrying the gun by two fingers, a full arm's length away from her." (p. 90) This is simply unbiblical. (Scripture) While we may question resorting to violence in a particular situation as not being Christlike, the author seems to suggest that God hates violence completely. This is just a misrepresentation of God's character.

God as a Woman

Further, the author paints God as an African-American female to break his "religious stereotype." Papa says that this gender confusion is simply a mixing of metaphors to keep him from falling back into his religious conditioning. (p. 95). Later in the book, as Mack "matures" God changes to a old man with long, white hair. While it is true that God has revealed his nature in Scripture in both masculine and feminine ways, e.g. Exodus 15:3, Psalm 68:5, Matthew 23:37, Young raises a moot point. The primary way that Scripture refers to God's nature is in a way that is masculine. It quite frankly is confusing to call God "Papa" yet see him as a woman. It doesn't seem to represent God's concern for gender distinction. (Deut. 22:5) Thankfully, we don't have this issue with the real God!

Jesus' Divinity

The main character asks, "But what about all the miracles? The healings? Raising people from the dead? Don't those prove that Jesus was God - you know, more than human?" God replies, "No, it proves that Jesus was fully human...He [healed the blind] as a dependent, limited human being trusting in [God's] life and power to be at work within him and through him." (pp. 101-102) This is utter nonsense. Jesus did act in His divinity when performing miracles, and this was one of the ways that people knew he was the son of God. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, but he performed the miracles as divinity. Also, Young uses a poor illustration of a bird choosing not to fly to illustrate Jesus "limiting himself." The language is just confusing. It seems that Young simply misunderstands the Incarnation.

Holiness Is Not an Emotion

Later in the book, the Trinity has a time of "devotion" where Mack is surprised to see that each member of the Godhead expresses verbal love and admiration to each other instead of the Father pulling out a huge King James Bible. I quote Young here, "To be in the presence of such love expressed seemed to dislodge an inner emotional logjam, and while he didn't understand exactly what he felt - it was good. What was [Mack] witnessing? Something simply, warm, intimate, genuine; this was holy. Holiness had always been a cold and sterile concept to Mack, but this was neither." (p. 109) While I don't deny the blissful feelings the Holy Spirit sometimes imparts to our hearts, I must contend that holiness is not an emotion. Also, Young states that scars (from the crucifixion) are clearly visible on God the Father's wrists. This is patripassionism, an absolute heresy.

We Are Not all God's Children

Next, Mack tells Papa that she seems to be especially fond of a lot of people, and asks, "Are there any you are not especially fond of?" She replies, "Nope, I haven't been able to find any. Guess that's jes' the way I is." This catches Mack's interest so he asks, "Do you ever get mad at any of them?" She replies, "Sho 'nuff! What parent doesn't?...I don't like a lot of the choices they make, but that anger - especially for me - is an expression of love all the same." (p. 121) The problem here is that we are not all God's children! (John 8:44) Jesus tells us that before we enter into relationship with God we are spiritually dead and children of the devil.


In the same conversation Papa also tells him, "I'm not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it." (p. 122) There is an element of truth in all this. Sin is a harsh taskmaster. The way of the transgressor is hard. (Proverbs 13:15) But to say that God doesn't need to punish sin is absolutely wrong. This calls into question God's essential character and we may ask, "So God is not a God of justice?" Love demands that justice be fulfilled. Any person in their right mind wouldn't say that a judge shouldn't sentence a murderer and rapist because the judge is a loving judge. God's love being part of his essential character demands that justice be fulfilled. Notwithstanding, in saying this we must also consider our freedom to choose right or wrong, and God's redemptive plan to save us from Hell through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Trust and Humility

Young also has an interesting perspective on trust and humility. The Holy Spirit (Sarayu) speaks and says, "You cannot produce trust, just as you cannot 'do' humility. It either is or is not. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me." (p. 128) If the author is correct here then I could trust someone who repeatedly sinned against me as long as I knew they loved me. Of course, their actions outweigh their words, thereby nullifying my feeling of trust in them. Furthermore, I can also infer that if I don't "feel" loved then I cannot trust God. I disagree with Young here because I believe that both trust and humility are conscious choices on our part in the relationship. That is, trust is an element of faith (Hebrews 11:6) and humility is the acknowledgment that all that I am and all that I have comes from God.

Eternal Submission

Later, Jesus in speaking with Mack about eternal submission within the Godhead says, "Submission is not about authority and it is not about obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect." (p. 147) Again, there is an element of truth in this. Submission does involve love and respect, but it also necessitates obedience and submitting to authority. (cf. Ephesians 5:22-33; John 14:28) Mark Bird explains this well in a paper on eternal generation and eternal submission. He says, "Eternal submission doesn't mean that Jesus is a lesser being than the Father, or inferior in any way; it simply refers to an authority structure within the Trinity, which is reflected in human relationships." Young simply misconstrues this doctrine.

Feminism and I Corinthians 11

The author makes an interesting statement about men causing much pain in the world. Speaking as Jesus, he says, " The world in many ways would be a much calmer and gentler place if women ruled. There would have been far fewer children sacrificed to the gods of greed and power." (p. 149-150) It is interesting that the author seems to momentarily jump on the feminist's bandwagon here. Recent research has shown that women do offer a rational and placid aspect to leadership, but the best type of government/leadership is one with co-gender involvement. Later on, Jesus tells Mack that God's desire was "to create a being that had a fully equal and powerful counterpart, the male and the female." (p. 150) This is not Biblical. I Corinthians 11:3 establishes the structure in relationships. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of a woman. While woman are not to be treated as inferior, men and women are not entirely equal. For example, men are responsible for spiritual leadership in the home. Wives are to submit to their husbands (within Scriptural bounds). All of this is not logical without authority structure and headship.

Jesus' Example

Young makes a gross overstatement concerning the example of Christ in Scripture. Jesus tells Mack, "Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus.' it means your independence is killed." (p. 151) Sure, I get that we can't ask, "What would Jesus do?" in every situation of our life, but why are we called Christians in the first place? Was it not because they saw Christ in the believers at Antioch? I understand that this can quickly turn into a form of legalism, but if being like Jesus isn't a large part of what the Christian life is about, then what is being a Christian all about? This issue can be easily misunderstood because of what Young says here in the book.

Grace Theology

The author also is a very strong supporter of grace theology. This is the belief that Christianity is "all about relationships and simply sharing life." (p. 180) This theology emphasizes God's grace and our relationship with Him to the neglect of discipleship, repentance, justice, punishment, structure, institutions and responsibilities. Grace theology is a reaction to legalism and strictness among conservative Christians. While it may sound good, it simply neglects elements of the Christian faith that are vital. Grace theology also has the potential to damn souls who live in sin, but claim God's grace and a relationship with Him. I John 2:3 clearly tells us otherwise.

Sin and Salvation

In response to Mackenzie asking for God's forgiveness regarding his sin of lying, God replies, "Did that a long time ago, Mack. If you don't believe me ask Jesus. He was there." (p. 191) This seems to cheapen the importance and sacredness of Calvary. While Christ died provisionally for all of our sins - past, present and future - we must personally appropriate his forgiveness each time we stumble and sin. Christ's work on the cross does not give us a once-and-for-all pass to automatically be forgiven when we sin. Of course, if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us. (I John 1:9)

God's Expectations

The Shack also proposes ideas about God's lack of expectations for us. Papa speaks up and says, "Honey, I've never placed an expectation on you or anyone else. This does not mesh with what Scripture says. (Genesis 17:1, I Peter 1:16) If God does not expect anything of us, then aren't we free to do whatever we want? Young states that the idea of expectation that someone doesn't know the future and is trying to get a desired result. Hence, since God knows everything about us, he has no expectations of us. Furthermore, the author tells us that because God has no expectations of us, we never disappoint him. (p. 208) This is totally false. God does have expectations of us and his heart is pained when we make wrong choices. He is a person whom the Bible describes as having emotions. i.e. anger, compassion.

Forgiveness and Repentance

Finally, the author confuses the issue of forgiveness and repentance in relation to sinning against God and against man. God opens the wound of the hurt that Mack has experienced because of losing his daughter. "So what then? I just forgive him and everything is okay and we become buddies?" Mack states softly and bitterly. God replies, "You don't have a relationship with this man, at least not yet. Forgiveness does not establish relationship. In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship." (p. 227) We must be careful not to confuse this issue. It is true that forgiveness does not necessarily establish a relationships with people who have wronged us, but we can only be in a right relationship with God on the basis of God's forgiveness. Philip Brown says it well in reference to forgiveness, "God is omniscient. He doesn't forget anything. When He forgives us, he removes it from the record. God can also unforgive and put sins back on the record book. His "forgetting" our sin is merely removing our sin from his focus." (cf. Luke 17:3-4; Matthew 18:15-35) Also, it is important that we understand that God doesn't forgive anyone of willful sin without repentance. We must not confuse God's forgiveness and our own forgiveness of others. It's an entirely different aspect of the issue. Furthermore, in an emotional frenzy, Mackenzie cries out, "Help me, Papa. Help me! What do I do? How do I forgive him?" God answers, "Tell him." Mack is still confused, "How Papa?" God tells him, "Just say it out loud. There is power in what my children declare." Mack begins to whisper in tones at first halfhearted and stumbling, but then with increasing conviction, "I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you." (p. 229) While the notion sounds nice and wonderful, this is not biblical forgiveness. Brown also says, "God requires from us a willingness to forgive, but not an act of forgiveness if they refuse to repent. If we actually forgave them, they would no longer be responsible according to the record book." (cf. Romans 12:19; Leviticus 19:18)


In summary, The Shack is a puppet that the author uses to explain his belief's about God. Unfortunately, many of the author's ideas are not biblical. This book should only be read by mature Christians or those who are scripturally grounded in what they believe.